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Why does the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra cost $100 more?
Well, it’s finally happened. Samsung’s top-of-the-line, already expensive flagship just got a price bump. The Galaxy S24 Ultra now costs a whopping $1,299 for the base configuration — up from $1,199 — after several years of steady pricing. We can’t say that we’re surprised after seeing other flagships like the Pixel 8 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro pick up price bumps of their own, but what led to Samsung’s decision specifically? Let’s take a look at some of the possible causes.
Living in a material world
Before we jump into possibilities, we should clarify that we did ask Samsung about the price increase. In response, we were told that keeping the price consistent was no longer feasible for the US market, and consumers are increasingly reaching for the best Android phones around over the more affordable flagships.
While that sounds like marketing jargon initially, it might not be too far off the mark. For starters, inflation has hit almost everyone and everything over the last few years, so it was going to make its way to smartphones eventually. Different components like chipsets and camera sensors cost Samsung more to acquire, which means the cost gets passed onto the consumer (eventually).
Samsung's top-end flagship was always going to cost more eventually, and then it added titanium to the equation.
Samsung’s swap from Armor Aluminum to titanium might also play a factor — especially considering that it’s a Galaxy S24 Ultra exclusive. Titanium is more expensive than aluminum, but Samsung deemed the swap worthwhile for the added durability that titanium provides.
The other piece of Samsung’s explanation concerns consumers reaching for the premium segment over more affordable devices. This is where the math gets a bit more confusing, as shoppers can reach for the premium segment because they rarely pay the full price for their device — at least not upfront. Samsung regularly offers ways to save money when you reserve the latest Galaxy device before it is available, plus an opportunity to trade your current phone for several hundred dollars in value. With that many savings on the table, we probably could have expected Samsung to bump the price in previous generations with the explanation that the deals take care of the increase anyway.
Do you think the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is worth the $100 price increase?
AI ain’t free
The more likely reason for Samsung’s $100 price bump on the Galaxy S24 Ultra has to do with the real star of Unpacked: Galaxy AI. Samsung has worked its new platform into just about every element of the Galaxy S24 series using a combination of on-device and cloud-based AI. All three devices can tap into the former, but the Galaxy S24 Ultra is the most equipped to tackle cloud-based features (though nothing is exclusive to the Galaxy S24 Ultra), which means one thing — increased overhead.
As you might remember from Google’s Pixel 8 launch, the Pixel 8 Pro picked up plenty of exclusive generative AI features that may or may not come to the base Pixel 8 in the future. It picked up a $100 price increase, too. Now, we can look at Samsung as doing somewhat of the same thing. Every cloud-based AI program you run requires a certain amount of space on one of Samsung’s servers, which costs Samsung money.
Every cloud-based AI action you perform on the Galaxy S24 will cost Samsung money, and that adds up.
Essentially, the company seems to think that its Ultra users are more likely to use the advanced AI features, whether for business or personal use, so they’ll be more likely to pay for the increased access. Some of Samsung’s Galaxy AI features are powered by Google, which means that a portion of the cost also gets funneled to Google for access to its servers as well.
At the end of the day, we can only speculate as to the real reasons for the $100 price increase on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. Is it probably a mix of everything mentioned above? Yes, but there are probably some other factors at play, too. Either way, we’ll have to wait to see if the end experience justifies the increased cost.