The appearance of any limited edition version of a smartphone usually implies one of three things; it’s geared towards those with more taste— and money— than the mainstream consumer; there’s more to the company’s creative vision than the mainstream market will support; or it’s a shameless cash grab designed to part the wealthy from their hard-earned dollars, because what costs more must be better. Except when it isn’t.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with companies coming up with clever ways to make a buck, that’s Business 101. Dongle life is here to stay. Vertu apparently had a functional business model— for a while, anyway. Who could possibly resist the gold-plated every-new-phone from Gold Genie or the Caviar Samsung Supremo Putin Rubino?
But each of these examples give you something in return for your money. A dongle is functional. A gold-plated phone has obvious monetary value. Vertu… well, Vertu got what was coming to it.
I was skeptical of last year’s Porsche Design Mate 9, but even that device managed to stand out by offering a curved display, a notably different design, a front-facing finger scanner, a higher resolution display, and additional internal storage and RAM. Nothing life-changing to be sure, and certainly not worth its price tag, but it was still enough to differentiate itself from the standard Mate 9.
Not so with the Porsche Design Mate 10.
The Porsche Design Mate 10 takes the Mate 10 Pro, changes the pattern on the camera from horizontal to vertical, bumps the internal storage to 256 GB and that’s about it. Oh, you get wallpapers, and, umm, a Porsche Design theme. Because themes are really hard to come by and, of course, très expensive. It’s black too; a real rarity in smartphones these days.
The Porsche Design Mate 9 sold ten times what Huawei expected it to, hitting six figures globally.
Huawei told us yesterday that the Porsche Design Mate 9 sold ten times what they expected it to, hitting six figures globally. Like most commercial ventures, once you experience success, the next step is to start reducing what you’re offering without changing the price to maximize profitability. Enter the Porsche Design Mate 10.
This year there isn’t even the illusion of a “better” device; it’s prestige and nothing more. The screens, chassis, size, weight and physical design are all the same. The 128 GB version of the Mate 10 Pro even has the same amount RAM, and still costs several hundred Euros less. That fancy Porsche Design box and PD logo are apparently worth their weight in gold.
This year there isn't even the illusion of a “better” device, it's prestige and nothing more.
In the age of ultra-premium flagships, manufacturers need to push perceived value harder than ever. There’s very little differentiating a $1000 flagship from a $600 flagship these days. Maybe they’ve got a few additional features, but mostly they trade on just the feeling of one being “better”. Most of that comes down to marketing because underneath it all, there’s very little substance to be had.
Perhaps this is why Huawei tried to convince us yesterday that the Porsche Design Mate 10 performs like a Porsche 911 and that it features “automative surfacing”. Gimme a break.
It’s the same phone with more storage and some themes. Buy it if you want, just don’t buy those vacuous lines – it has nothing in common with a real Porsche other than in name. As prices continue to increase, we need to increasingly call out BS for what it is.
Even the “ceramic-look exterior” is fake. It’s glass, made to look like ceramic because “ceramic is too heavy for phones”. Try telling that to Xiaomi. At the very least, ceramic has very low yields and is expensive to make. That alone might have been enough to justify the added price.
I’m sure there will be a market for the Porsche Design Mate 10. I’m sure it will outsell its predecessor and we’ll see another one next year. But claiming this partnership brings “design, performance and innovation together in cutting edge devices” is patently untrue and comically transparent. Maybe I’m just old and grumpy, but I’d like to think 1395 Euros is worth a better lie than this.