The world's best selling phone makes the Samsung Galaxy S20 look way overpriced

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
(Image credit: Future)

The prices of smartphones keep going up and up and up, and Samsung is really pushing the limits with its new Samsung Galaxy S20, which starts at $999 and goes all the way up to $1,399 for the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.

But new data says that the vast majority of consumers are plenty happy with cheaper phones. The iPhone XR was the top selling phone of all of 2019, according to research company Omdia. The price? $599.

Omdia’s Smartphone Model Market Tracker report says that Apple shipped 46.3 million iPhone XR units during 2019, while the $699 iPhone 11 was the second best-selling phone of the year with 37.3 million units shipped.

Samsung had three models in the top 5 as well, but they were not flagship phones. Instead, they were cheaper handsets like the Samsung Galaxy A10 ($189), Galaxy A50 ($275) and Galaxy A20 ($250)

There was a super premium phone that made the top ten list in the iPhone 11 Pro Max ($1,099) but by and large it seems that consumers simply prefer more affordable handsets.

iPhone XR: Good enough for most people

Based on our iPhone XR review, even today Apple's 2018 phone is still a great value. While it doesn’t offer the advanced cameras of the iPhone 11, you get fast performance, a big and bright 6.1-inch display and long battery life. 

And this is pretty much what consumers want form a phone these days.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 lineup looks great overall, but it’s not clear whether consumers will be willing to splurge on what it brings to the table. The biggest upgrades are a 120Hz display, the more powerful zoom cameras and 5G connectivity.

Samsung Galaxy S20: Just too pricey?

However, in our tests we found that the 120Hz display mode took a huge battery life toll on the Galaxy S20 Ultra. And while the cameras do indeed impress, 5G networks are still rolling out around the country.

Meanwhile, Samsung has dropped the prices on its Galaxy S10 lineup from last year, and I suspect that these phones will be among the top sellers for this year. The Galaxy S10e now starts at $599, which is $400 less than the Galaxy S20.

And Samsung didn’t release an answer to the $699 iPhone 11 with its latest flagship phones, which I think is a big Galaxy S20 mistake.

With the OnePlus 8 around the corner and other affordable flagships from Motorola and LG on the way in the Motorola Edge Plus and LG V60, this could be the year of the good-enough phone.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.