The new Galaxy phones each have several camera upgrades, including improvements to auto framing, video stability, night mode and high-dynamic range photography. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: In a tactical move, Samsung’s UAE retailers have slashed prices on the earlier version of the flagship Galaxy S smartphone series by anywhere up to Dh1,000-Dh1,200 even as the latest one – Galaxy S23 – hits the stores.

The S23 represents the first of the premium smartphone launches of 2023, and Samsung retailers are aiming to win market share with the new model and the S22 alike, which is now seeing price-offs. “This officially starts the big battle for market share in 2023, and Samsung is clearly gunning for an early lead,” said one of the top retailers for the brand in the UAE.

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“It’s up to the user to decide what he wants – the latest or the previous model but with sizeable cuts on the prices.”

For the Galaxy S23, the pre-orders are ‘strong’, according to multiple sources, and the local telecom giants are also offering packages with free add-ons that come up to Dh1,000 and over.

“We are giving instant pre-orders, where the customer gets same-time delivery as per availability of the stocks,” said Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer at Jacky’s Electronics. 

Sales for the S23 have been robust and in keeping with past trends among UAE buyers, the sales initially have skewed towards the S23 Ultra 512GB (costing more than Dh6,000).

- Ashish Panjabi of Jacky’s Electronics

Can S23 demand go big and wide?

“The model is exceptional, whether it’s on the aesthetics or battery life – the Samsung die-hards will buy and this is what everyone will see with the pre-bookings,” said Saleem Javed, co-founder of Dubai-based Touch Tel, a smartphone distributor. “As for buyers beyond the fans, I think they will wait a few weeks to see whether prices will settle or if retailers can provide more free add-ons.

Because there is a marked price difference between the launch prices of the S22 and S23.

- Saleem Javed of Dubai-based Touch Tel

In comparison, Apple related promotions for the current version, the iPhone 14, are seeing price drops of 3-5 per cent. Sources say demand for the iPhone 14 continues to hold up after the model saw supply issues in the final weeks of 2022.

“The iPhone 14 Pro is still moving and a lot of the stock issues that were there in last quarter of 2022 have disappeared,” said Panjabi. “There is more consistent supply as of now across most colours.”

Where Apple models are recording bigger price drops are on the iPads and previous iterations of the MacBook range. “Only if stocks of iPhone 14 build up, then we could see some major adjustments in market prices,” said a retailer. “On the S23 for now, there is no discounting due to pre-order bundles being offered. Post-Ramadan, retailers will assess what the situation is on stocks from some other regions and whether those have started flowing into the UAE.”

Demand is still intact for premium

In an interview, the President of Samsung's Gulf operations affirmed that at the top-end of the smartphone market, there is no evidence of consumer discretion with spending. "During times of a global recession, consumers are more critical of their purchase decisions and invest in quality and value above all else," Doohee Lee, the President of Samsung Gulf Electronics, after last evening's S23 launch.

Doohee Lee, the President of Samsung Gulf Electronics
Lee said, "The demand for premium products that last longer is expected to continue increasing, as consumers prioritize purchases from brands they trust to be reliable and ready for the future."

That and a bit of aggro on pricing does make for a sound gameplan.