The refurbished Samsung Galaxy Note FE (Fan Edition) is now on sale in South Korea, sporting a 699,000 KRW price tag – that’s roughly $610 – and will be making its way to a limited number of other countries soon. On top of the refurbished hardware, customers also receive Bixby voice integration right out of the box, which makes the phone feature comparable with the Galaxy S8 and presumably the upcoming Note 8 as well.
The $240 or so discount off the original Note 7’s price tag ($849) might tempt some, but that’s not a huge price reduction for a troubled model now quickly approaching a year old. So that leaves the question, is this just a launch for the dedicated fans, with a Samsung premium attached, or is this a competitive purchase when compared with other handsets that are roughly the same age?
The best way to decide is to compare the discounts now available on other handsets of a similar age, which compete in the same market as the Note 7. A small selection of options stand out as the closest alternatives- the LG V20, Google’s Pixel XL, Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus, and even the Galaxy S7 edge. The Huawei Mate 9 hasn’t been on sale for as long in the US, and so hasn’t had time to accumulate a discount, but I’ll include it in the pricing for reference. Here’s how much the prices of these phones have fallen:
|Launch Price||Price Today||Difference||% Off|
|Galaxy Note 7 FE||$849||$610||-$239||28%|
|Galaxy S7 edge||$749||$445||-$304||40%|
|Huawei Mate 9||$600||$580||-$20||3%|
|iPhone 7 Plus||$769||$769||$0||0%|
As you can see, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The LG V20 has depreciated by almost 50 percent at some retailers since launch, and the Galaxy S7 edge isn’t far behind at 40 percent. However, the Pixel XL, Mate 9, and Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus are still the same price as at launch, suggesting that these premium brands are more resilient to depreciation than Samsung and LG. So looking at the Note FE, a 30 percent discount is pretty close to the middle of the market, but certainly not a massive bargain by comparison, especially as there’s the phone’s history to consider too.
For bargain hunters, Samsung Galaxy flagship prices can fall by 40 percent or more after the first year, making the FE more expensive than the usual deals.
Another point worth remembering though is that the Note 8 is right around the corner, and the Note 7 would certainly have seen a price reduction at this point anyway. So, a little look at the history of the Note 5 should give us a solid precedent to see if the FE model is a good deal or overpriced compared with a typical year old Note.
Depending on where you looked, the Note 5 could be bought for as little as $450 before the launch of the Note 7, which again right around that 40 percent ballpark figure for the S7’s depreciation. That’s a further $150 cheaper than the Note FE will retail for, so there’s a considerable difference here that suggests Samsung is keeping the FE’s price a little higher than would be typical for a year old Samsung phone.
Now there are several reasons why Samsung may have chosen a deliberately higher than typical price for the FE. The most obvious is to prevent cannibalizing sales of the upcoming Galaxy Note 8 and stealing its thunder. Usually this wouldn’t be much of a problem, as we’ve discussed that previous models always become cheaper. However, as the Note range has been off the market for so long, a low cost model release so soon before the Note 8 could make the upcoming flagship appear overpriced.
There’s also the brand angle and costs to consider – refitting and retesting all these Note 7’s can’t have been cheap. Furthermore, a rather expensive FE sends out the message that this is still a premium smartphone, and not just the company selling off borked stock at a discount rate. Samsung needs to repair the Note brand and a low cost refurbished model would probably have hurt the brand further still, even though we’d all love cheaper phones.
Of course, there’s still a good handset to be bought here, but the pricing strategy doesn’t make this quite the bargain that many had perhaps hoped for. However, it’s still a better deal than phones like the Pixel or iPhone 7 Plus. Overall, Samsung’s pricing strategy makes the Galaxy Note FE one for the faithful fans first and bargain hunters second. As such, this isn’t a purchase that I could recommend based on value alone, especially with the Note 8 right around the corner.