LG Nexus 5X Unboxing-6

Last month, Google officially unveiled the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P with all kinds of new features and functionality. It also put the pair at a proper price point: competitive with similar products; a good value-for-money proposition. Shortly after news broke about the less fortunate situation overseas, where the darling devices will cost quite a pretty penny. In Japan however, it seems carriers are literally asking for a small fortune.

Two telecoms will sell the Nexus 5X, each only offering the 32GB variant. SoftBank subsidiary, Y!mobile, is charging ¥80,352 (roughly $673):

y!mobile Nexus 5X Pricing

NTT docomo is charging an even higher fee. The “true” price of the Nexus 5X is ¥93,312, or $781. Those who purchase before November 30th will get a ¥10,800 discount, bringing the total down to $691:NTT docomo Nexus 5X Pricing

For reference, the Japanese Google Store is selling the 32GB Nexus 5X for ¥63,400, or $531:

Nexus 5X Google Store Japan

Surprised?

For Americans, the 32GB Nexus 5X costs $429. This means that Google Japan is charging $102 over the US retail price, Y!mobile is charging $244 over the US retail price, and NTT docomo – without the campaign – is charging $352 over the US retail price.

The numbers may change slightly depending on which state you live in given that Google’s $429 does not include sales tax; the Japanese prices however, do. Suffice to say the carriers here are charging more than what the Nexus 6P costs in America.

Softbank's Nexus 6P preview page.

SoftBank’s Nexus 6P preview page.

In Japan, a 32GB Nexus 6P from the Google Store costs ¥74800 ($626). Is it also being sold via SoftBank for ¥78,720 ($659). Carrier-based Nexus 5X units are thus more expensive than the Huawei variant, and even the one carrier selling the 6P has less mark-up to boot.

Why the high prices?

Japanese carriers have operated on a ¥0 down, installment-based payment system for roughly a decade. The pricing detailed in this piece assume the customer pays Full Retail Price at the time of purchase.

Y!mobile provides no discount, thus customers are paying the FRP over 24 months. NTT docomo will provide a ¥46,800 discount over the course of 24 months (¥2,025 per month) thus bringing the cost down to ¥33,912 ($284). Still, this discount is dependant on a specific contract, which typically requires a costly unlimited talking plan, in addition to internet access and the phone installments themselves.

NTT docomo Nexus 5X

It should be noted that both Y!mobile and NTT docomo are only selling the Nexus 5X, and SoftBank is only selling the Nexus 6P. There is no choice to be had within a specific carrier.

Likewise, the monthly phone installments are interest-free (and ¥0 down) thus carriers might seem a better initial proposition than Google for many customers, especially if they don’t realize Google sells directly.

Wrap up

The Japanese Nexus situation highlights regional differences that can occur even with a single product. It is unclear as to why these two carriers have chosen to inflate the price of the Nexus 5X beyond that which Google Japan already did. One possibility is to make the smartphone seem impressive (as a factor of cost). Still, the Google Store and Softbank (carrier) 32GB Nexus 6P offerings are actually cheaper, despite major hardware and spec advantages. It’s a curious situation indeed.

NTT docomo Product Line-Up 2015-2016

Perhaps fittingly, the Nexus 6P is sold-out on the Google Store, and SoftBank Mobile has finished accepting reservations. As of this morning NTT docomo was still offering free Google Cardboard to its early Nexus 5X customers, however the promotion now seems to be finished, so clearly the price isn’t a concern for some.

Now that you know Japan’s peculiar pricing predicament, do you still feel like the new Nexus devices are expensive in your country?

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