When the Nexus 5 debuted just scant weeks ago it raised quite a few eyebrows. Here we had some high end hardware for a budget price. It was borderline scandalous. Everyone in the tech community wanted one, or two. They went on sale, they sold out, they went on sale again. There was clamoring – actual clamoring – for this phone. I admit, I also got caught up in the moment. Technically, I guess I still am since I plan to get a Nexus 5 in the not-too-distant future.
But this last weekend, something occurred to me. Offering a high end, almost flagship phone for a low price is something that has been done in the Lumia line of phones for years now. Even when the Lumia 900 debuted, it came with an off-contract sticker price of roughly $450, $100 more, but in the same neighborhood as the 2013 Nexus 5.
Nexus 5 vs Lumia?
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “The Lumia 900 is a piece of garbage compared to the Nexus 5,” and of course you are right. But the Lumia 900 was the flagship Windows Phone offering at the time and $450 is a pretty impressive price tag for a flagship phone. The Nexus 5 surely isn’t considered a flagship phone. Android’s favorite son remains the Samsung GS4 or perhaps the Note 3, (though the jury is still out on the latter of the two). The Nexus could be considered the flagship of the Nexus line, but since the Nexus 5 is an army of one, that’s not a particularly convincing story.
All the same, the Nexus did beat the Lumia – all of them – by about one hundred dollars or so. Even the Lumia 920 carried the 900’s same initial price tag of $450. More recently, the Lumia 1020 retails for around $640 and the Lumia 1520 (16GB) will go for $585. Bear in mind, these are US prices. International prices will vary from region to region, just as they vary for every other phone. But to provide a consistent comparison, we had to go with one region, and we picked the US.
Not all of them
While the 1020 does carry a heavy price tag, consistent with most flagships of today, including the GS4 and the iPhone 5S, the $585 price tag for the 1520 still resides well below the phablet poverty line. The Samsung Galaxy Note III, for example, is going to run you an extra 5 trips to the ATM (or $200 in Adam-speak) to pick one up. So, cheap is not new to the land on Lumia.
Which begs the question – why the saliva? Why does the world drip like Pavlov’s dog at the sound of a Nexus 5 dinner bell? Is it popularity? Is it familiarity? Is it Google?
Marketshare, marketshare, marketshare
First of all, it should be mentioned that Windows Phone 8 lives in the single digit market share shanty for a reason. People just don’t know it. Or they do know it, and can’t stand to use it (*cough* *cough* Taylor Martin *cough*). But whatever the reasons (
Tech media folks certainly know what Windows Phone is about. They are familiar with it. They write about it. Yet even they, both my colleagues at Pocketnow and those of other sites, sat up like dogs at a dinner table, while at the same time paying little attention to the Lumias over the years. Sure they’d give a blurb below the fold when the Lumia 520 became available for less than the price of a mochachino at Starbucks. Occasionally, the word off-contract came up while riffing about the Amazeballz camera on the Lumia 1020, or the impressive screen of the Lumia 1520.
The crowd goes wild
But when Google gave birth to the Nexus 5, with that silly-low price, tech folk couldn’t help but talk/write/comment/blog about it. Of course, I was one of them. I won’t pretend otherwise. But it makes one wonder why there is so much gaga over the “pure Android experience” and the Lumia phones barely rate a Backstreet Boy (Get it? GaGa? Nevermind). After all, every Lumia is a “pure Windows Phone experience.” I guess that is by definition not a big deal then. But between the Lumia 520, 820, 920 and 925, we’re talking about some great phones for less than $500, which is pretty darn impressive if you ask me. Both the 920 and the 925 will certainly give the Nexus 5’s camera a run for its money any way.
But I don’t want this to come off as Windows Phone whining. Far from it. The Nexus line of phones is clearly more popular than the Lumia line of phones, and it should be. This is due mostly to their respective operating systems. It would be silly to think that today’s Lumias could keep up with the big green bot in the court of public opinion. But it seemed right to point out the fact that while, yes the Nexus 5 is a great phone for a great price, there are indeed other options out there, and like pretty much everything else in mobile tech, the whole “low cost for high quality this” isn’t exactly a brand new concept.