Even Bragging Rights Does Not Justify Buying the Note 3

[Editorial Notes: Samsung launched Galaxy Note3 in India for the price of Rs. 49,900. Guest writer, Kailas Shastry shares his candid opinion with us. Kailas has eight years experience in the field of media and communications. Most recently he was Executive Editor at a consumer technology portal.]

Even Bragging Rights Does Not Justify Buying the Note 3

…at its launch price, of course.

Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Knowing Samsung, the company will start dropping the price well before the product nears end of life, but going by the launch price, it is very hard to convince myself of the value of getting one.

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I concede that bragging rights, flaunt value, mine’s more expensive (or bigger) than yours feeling, and all of that form a significant part of the ownership experience when you buy a Rs 50,000 phone. The problem though is that bragging rights last only as long as the device is priced at that Rs 50k mark. If its price drops to say, 40k, people will see it as a 40k device, no matter what price you paid for it. It’s not like buying a Rolex, whose appeal and perceived value does not diminish over time.

Samsung is banking on making the Note 3 aspirational, in part by pricing it way, way above what’s currently in the market (the iPhone 5S, when it arrives, notwithstanding). A very Apple-ish tactic, dare I say. That aside, Samsung needs to ask itself whether its brand is aspirational at all, in the Apple sense of the word. Saying “I bought a Galaxy this or that or Note” does not have the same ring to it as “I bought the iPhone”. So, why else would you buy a phablet that’s almost half a foot diagonally, for all of Rs 50,000?

All new stylus or Air controls are all nice to play with and think to yourself ‘wow’. The last time I used the Air Gesture on the Galaxy S4, it looked like a PoC (proof of concept) rather than a feature ready for end users. Even if Samsung’s nailed it this with the Note 3, given their recent history, only a Samsung fanboy would pay the premium for fancy features.

What else do we have? Higher compute power, for sure. Other than being able to play newer graphics intensive games, there’s little else that all that extra processing power can do with the app ecosystem and typical usage of today. Of course, we can make a similar statement about the iPhone 5S, but that’s another discussion for another day. Back to the Note 3, a better camera is one area that deserves mention, but hey, go get yourself a point and shoot camera for Rs 6000 and it’ll do a better job – this whole convergence thing has its limits.

The Note 3 does not add anything significant to the Note 2 to justify its asking price. When you factor in the choice that Tier 2 brands offer – similar screen size for about one third the cost – you can essentially replace such a device every year for three years, ensuring you get an upgrade in the process, and for a cost similar to the Note 3’s. An aside: the screen and silicon won’t be as good as the Samsung’s, but a surprisingly high number of buyers – even those who are not cost conscious are quite ok with it.

If you are looking for a premium phablet, hang in there, Samsung’s sure to drop prices. If you want one today, just get the Note 2. It doesn’t look like you’ll be missing too much.

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