Dumping the Galaxy S24 Plus is the right move for Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus back panel on pink

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Earlier this week, Korean publication The Electric released a report that suggested Samsung, the world’s largest Android phone maker, could have a rather monumental shift in strategy for its 2024 lineup. Shortly after including the Note series in the primary Galaxy S series, the company is now poised to drop its long-standing three-device strategy in the series.

While the upcoming Galaxy S23 lineup is expected to feature three devices, the 2024 flagship portfolio could be in for a big shake-up just like last year. If rumors are to be believed, the series will only ship with the budget flagship Samsung Galaxy S24 and a top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra that marks the top end of Samsung’s non-foldable offering.

While prolific leaker Roland Quandt immediately suppressed the rumor, it got us thinking. Would dropping the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus really be such a bad idea? We don’t think so, and there’s more than one reason.

Do you think Samsung should do away with the Plus model?

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Two is company, three is a crowd

Samsung Galaxy S22 family in blue on wood

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Based on insights from market research agency Gfk, The ElectricSamsung’s report gives us a deeper understanding of the shipment volumes for Samsung’s lineup for 2022. The report states that of Samsung’s total shipments for the S22 series, the mid-range Galaxy S22 Plus is a pitiful 17% for its took into account. Meanwhile, the regular Galaxy S22 and flagship Galaxy S22 Ultra accounted for 38% and 45% of shipments, respectively. In a year where, by Samsung’s own admission, shipments and consequently profits have been significantly better, it doesn’t paint a very good picture for the Galaxy S22 Plus.

Samsung’s Plus variant contributes a minority share of total shipments, even in a good year.

But let’s rewind a little further. Looking at the Galaxy S21 series, total shipment volumes showed a 47% drop from the Galaxy S10 series. While we don’t have a clear breakdown of shipping volumes, estimates suggest Samsung expected most volumes to be led by the entry-level model, with the S21 Ultra and S21 Plus managing 8 million units each. Considering that Samsung underestimated the demand for the S21 Ultra and faced shortages for its flagships, it becomes even clearer that Samsung’s mid-range flagship device never really stood out in terms of shipping volumes.

Diving in, the reasons aren’t all that surprising. The Galaxy S22 Plus didn’t really push the needle beyond a chipset upgrade and sub-flagship increases to the camera. For a phone that launched at a searing $999, just $200 shy of the thoroughbred, ultra-charged flagship, the significant reduction in specs was never going to sit well with its intended audience. However, the significantly lower sales are also symptomatic of sweeping changes in buyer demographics across all smartphone brands.

apple iphone 14 plus home screen

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Samsung’s main competitor in the premium space, Apple, has similar woes. A few weeks after its launch, rumors began to circulate that this year’s all-new mid-premium iPhone 14 Plus might be in trouble. In fact, it is widely speculated that the maximum size smartphone with the same internals as the regular iPhone 14 has been a commercial failure.

Aimed at Asian markets, the iPhone 14 Plus failed to make a breakthrough due to its limited spec sheet and high price.

Finding the right product-market fit is important, and Apple’s gamble with the Plus clearly didn’t sit well with the expected audience. It’s a product few clamored for in the West, and it proved to be too expensive for Asian markets that would otherwise prefer a powerful device with a larger screen.

So, what’s the deal?

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max portrait

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

A multi-device strategy is not new to the segment. Samsung and Apple have been at it since flagship prices crossed the $1000 mark. Maximizing sales through a wide variety of options has long been considered a viable option, as long as prices remained within sub-flagship territory and the feature set warranted it.

While both brands approached the issue slightly differently – Apple differentiated in size and Samsung opted for both a lighter feature set and a smaller size, they both suffered from the same fundamental issues – limited demand and portfolio overlap.

In a price-conscious market segment where every $100 difference can make or break the product, it makes sense to have a variety of options. This is especially true in countries where paying full price for a smartphone is the norm and is often seen with brands like OnePlus and Redmi that tend to flood the market at any price point. However, that same strategy starts to fall apart as you move up the value chain.

A $200 price difference matters in the affordable segment. But someone who’s already looking at premium phones won’t mind paying it to get the best.

For a buyer already spending $1,000 on a new phone, the $200 extra for a top model isn’t nearly as difficult as it is for someone who wants to buy an affordable phone. flagship category. It’s a very different customer mindset – one where the buyer doesn’t want to settle for second best.

For most buyers interested in picking up the Plus model in Samsung’s lineup, the Galaxy S22 Ultra comes across as a justifiable spend due to its significantly better feature set and not much higher price. In Apple’s ecosystem, a $100 jump over the iPhone 14 Plus gets you a faster processor, a better screen, and an extra camera — a bargain that only the most price-conscious but price-conscious iPhone enthusiast would pass up. If we look at sales reports, obviously there aren’t too many of them.

Size matters; specifications too

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max cameras top

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

That close enough positioning is, of course, designed to sell a more expensive device to the buyer, but it comes with the risk of cannibalizing your own product. The tepid sales for the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus are a perfect example of that cannibalization at play.

Another factor to consider is buyers who want a flagship but still want a more comfortable size and shape. For that customer, the intermediate position of the Galaxy S22 Plus or for that matter the iPhone 14 Plus makes no sense. Both phones fail to hit a sweet spot with their displays, lack top-end specs and are priced within spitting distance of the actual flagship.

Both the Galaxy S22 Plus and iPhone 14 Plus are intermediates. They are not full-fledged flagships and they lack the advantages of an attractive size or price.

Nor is it mere speculation, as consumer trends and shipping numbers support that hypothesis. The entry-level iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S22 both remain popular due to the near-perfect balance between specs and prices. Meanwhile, the iPhone 14 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra continue to deliver numbers at a decent clip, despite the nosebleeds and global economic headwinds.

Interestingly enough, this clear split in customer mindset has been going on for a long time, and we see it impacting portfolio planning for other brands as well. When we sneak a peek at Google’s upcoming Pixel smartphones, the market segmentation was clearly defined there too. Sure, Google also seems to be aiming for a three-device lineup, but unlike Samsung and Apple, the goal is to have the same flagship in two different sizes, and a slightly understated budget flagship similar to the awesome Pixel 7 rather than forced segmentation.

Unlike the sub-flagship devices from Samsung and Apple which can divide the customer base into those tied to a budget and those able to spend more, the latter having the choice of a smaller or larger phone. Google’s strategy has the potential to be uncompromising for its customers.

There is value in a slimmer portfolio

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus family colors on wood

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

As journalists, we usually measure the value of a product by the hardware it offers, and more importantly, the experience it offers at a given price. In our Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review, we found it to be a fairly enjoyable product, with a caveat that it might be worth spending on the premium flagship instead – if you can handle it. If shipping skewness is to be taken into account, it seems that a large majority of buyers did just that.

A leaner high-end portfolio would make choosing the right option easier for the customer while increasing profits for Samsung – a win-win situation.

Whether or not Samsung follows through with the rumors remains to be seen, but the public has made it clear that it’s important to balance the price, spec sheet and size options. It may seem like a no-brainer, but a leaner portfolio could actually help Samsung achieve higher sales and revenue by removing the complexity of choice for the customer.

For those on a budget, the more affordable entry-level model would be a shoo-in, while those looking for the best have a clear option that will also boost profit margins for Samsung. A win-win situation for both the brand and the customer.