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We see you, Samsung: Global markets are subsidizing US Galaxy S23 prices

The Pixel 7 Pro is cheaper than the S23 in Europe and that tells you what you need to know about Samsung's priorities.
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Published onFebruary 2, 2023

samsung galaxy s23 lineup displays
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S23 series is finally here, which means we no longer have to endure a constant stream of leaks and rumors — until the Galaxy S24 leaks start in two weeks, ha! Nevertheless, the phones seem to be interesting, though minor, upgrades over the Galaxy S22 series.

There’s good news for US consumers: The entire Galaxy S23 range has the same pricing as the Galaxy S22 series. But take one look at global pricing and it’s hard to shake the feeling that US prices are being subsidized by higher prices in other markets.

Do you think Samsung is making a mistake with global Galaxy S23 prices?

608 votes

Galaxy S23 pricing: US versus the world

samsung galaxy s23 series lined up pink
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 (8GB/128GB): $799 / €859 / £769
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 (8GB/128GB): $799 / €959 / £849
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus (8GB/128GB): $999 / €1,059 / £949
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus (8GB/256GB): $999 / €1,219 / £1,049
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (8GB/128GB): $1,199 / €1,259 / £1,149
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (8GB/256GB): $1,199 / €1,419 / £1,249

The new Samsung phones indeed cost $799, $999, and $1,199 in the US, but the company has set up major price hikes around the world, including Europe, the UK, India, and South Africa. In India and South Africa, price increases can — at least partially — be attributed to weaker local currencies compared to a year ago. However, this same reasoning doesn’t seem to hold water for Europe and the UK, as the exchange rates for these regions haven’t substantially changed compared to a year ago.

It definitely feels like Samsung made a deliberate choice to be more aggressive in the US, while increasing its profit margins in global markets. We can understand this stance, as the US is a major market for Samsung and the company needs to be aggressive in its fight against Apple there. However, this decision could blow up in Samsung’s face in a big way.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 series sees a major price hike in the EU and UK, despite similar exchange rates compared to a year ago.

It’s worth noting that Samsung’s sticker price doesn’t always reflect the value you’re getting from the brand’s phones. After all, the company offers subsidies in partnership with retailers and networks, pre-order benefits, and generous trade-in offerings. But these perks have applied to previous Galaxy flagships as well, and also apply to the Galaxy S23 series in the US with its cheaper price tag.

We can also speculate that Samsung is instituting price hikes in some markets as Snapdragon processors might be more expensive than Exynos SoCs. The company may have been willing to accept reduced profit margins on previous models with its in-house processor. No Exynos model this time could mean a higher bill of materials to source out Qualcomm’s chip, so Samsung might have had to increase prices somewhere to meet its own profit goals.

The Pixel 7 Pro is somehow cheaper?

Google Pixel 7 Pro Lemongrass back
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Perhaps the biggest piece of evidence that Samsung is overplaying its hand with the Galaxy S23 series’ global pricing is the fact that the base Galaxy S23 is actually more expensive than the Google Pixel 7 Pro in Europe. Yes, the Pixel 7 Pro retails for €899 in European countries versus the S23’s €959 price tag. Google’s flagship also has the same price tag as the vanilla S23 in the UK. (It goes without saying that the standard Pixel 7 is €300 and £250 cheaper than the Galaxy S23 in Europe and the UK, respectively.)

The combo of Google’s aforementioned aggressive pricing and its market expansion makes it clear that Samsung has a small but mounting threat on its hands. Sure, Google barely makes a dent in the global smartphone market share, but the Korean brand can’t afford to rest on its laurels in this regard. We already argued that the base Galaxy S23 should compete with the vanilla Pixel 7, and yet we find ourselves with a price that doesn’t even keep up with the Pixel 7 Pro in some countries.

Samsung can’t afford to be complacent

samsung galaxy s23 series cameras
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The biggest risk for Samsung in taking this approach is that other smartphone markets are far more competitive than the US. The US is effectively an Apple and Samsung duopoly, with the likes of Motorola, TCL, OnePlus, and others fighting for scraps. Other major Chinese brands simply don’t have a presence in the market.

Meanwhile, Europe, India, Africa, and other global markets have loads of smartphone choices. Xiaomi is perhaps the most notable brand in this regard with a significant presence in these regions, complete with operator partnerships. OPPO and vivo are also doing a great job of offering premium experiences these days; they’re becoming reliable and popular alternatives to Samsung in some markets.

Regardless of the outcome, it’s clear that Samsung is treating major non-US markets like second-class citizens when you look at pricing. The company might have semi-justifiable reasons for price hikes in some regions, but these reasons certainly don’t seem to wash in the likes of Europe and the UK.

This pricing misstep means now is probably the best time for Google to steal even a sliver of market share from Samsung in affected markets. The time is also right for Samsung’s competitors to step up and be aggressive with their own 2023 offerings.

See price at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Large AMOLED display
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 power
Bigger battery
See price at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
New 200MP main camera
Beautiful display
S Pen functionality

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