TLDR: I can get a 64GB microsd card for under $50, so why are 64GB smartphones so expensive?
Before the iPhone was born, everyone wanted an iPod. Back then you could carry around your entire music collection with you. Today, times have changed. MP3s have gotten larger and higher-quality, and individual songs are now easier to find and much easier to download. Taken together, the size of our music libraries has increased significantly since the “good ol’ days” of the original iPod.
Luckily, iPods have improved as well, but now most of us use our smartphones to do that which our iPods used to. Interestingly, a good deal of smartphones still come with only 8GB or 16GB storage. The newer generations of phones have all but standardized on 16GB and 32GB, and high-end devices are usually available in 64GB varieties, too.
I, for one, feel that 64GB smartphones should be the defacto-standard, but what’s got me scratching my head. Why are 64GB smartphones so expensive? Yes, I get that they’re the flagship phones and can command a premium, but that’s not the confusing part. Let’s take a look at two phones, the HTC One and the iPhone 5S. Both are flagships, and both are available in 64GB versions.
The HTC One is available from several carriers in several configurations — some subsidized, some not. Based on an unsubsidized rate, the 64GB version costs $669.99 compared to the 32GB variety at $599.99.
If we assume the only differences between the two devices is the amount of storage space on-board, we get a price differential of $2.19/GB.
(Yes, I know that doesn’t take into account cost of the base amount of storage, just the difference, but I couldn’t find an HTC One available in a zero-GB version for a baseline comparison.)
iPhone 5S: $4.17/GB
Moving on to the latest flagship from the Apple camp, the iPhone 5S is available from T-Mobile, unsubsidized for $648.84 for the 16GB version and $848.84 for the 64GB version. The difference between the two is $4.17/GB.
If you look at subsidized versions of the phone, the initial costs are lower, but the price per GB remains essentially the same.
SanDisk Ultra 64GB microsd card: $0.77/GB
Compare both phones to the SanDisk Ultra 64GB microsd card. Here we can calculate the raw cost per Gig, so the comparison is skewed to the high-side when we look at the sdcard as compared to the phones. However, even with the “handicap” of a 0-to-64GB comparison, the sdcard comes in around 77-cents per GB.
Obviously, the cost of storage in our smartphones is significantly more expensive than it could be. My question to you is how long do you think OEMs will be able to get away with overcharging us?