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Tuesday, 29 July 2014 18:42

When a 'cheaper' smartphone costs more

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Are there really five 4G smartphones that are cheaper than Kogan's Agora 4G?

As long-time readers will know, I sometimes feel compelled to call shenanigans on my colleagues' work.

Over at the Herald-Sun, News Corp national technology editor Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson questions Kogan's claim that its new Agora 4G smartphone "offers 4G connectivity for a price point never seen before anywhere in the world."

According to Ms Dudley-Nicholson, "here are other smartphones delivering 4G connectivity for less than Kogan's new phone" and then she goes on to list "five 4G smartphones on sale now for less than $250."

Why $250? The Agora 4G costs $229, but the minimum delivery fee appears to be $19, which seems in line with other retailers, though I did see that Officeworks offers free delivery, at least to some locations.

Her first pick is the Alcatel POP S3 - $199 from Alcatel. But that's a prepaid deal, and if you unlock it within six months of purchase you're up for an $80 fee. In my book, that makes it more expensive than the Agora 4G.

Next there's the Nokia Lumia 625. Ms Dudley-Nicholson quotes a price of $219.95 from Mobicity, which charges at least $9.95 for delivery. That seems to be an unusually good price - I checked some better-known retailers and found prices between $248 and $299 - but at Mobicity's price it is the only phone on her list that genuinely undercuts Kogan.

Number three is the Samsung Galaxy Ace 3, which she says costs $249 as a prepaid handset from Telstra. When I checked this afternoon, the price was $224.10 including $10 credit, perhaps as a response to Kogan's announcement. While free delivery is offered, the unlocking fee is at least $50 - for some reason the Telstra rep I asked couldn't be exact, saying it could be anything up to $150.

Then there's the $233 Samsung Galaxy Express 2. This handset seemed a bit harder to find, but Shopbot.com.au presents prices ranging from $250 to a whopping $429. The $233 price comes from eGlobalDigitalCameras, which appears to be based in Hong Kong. Shipping costs at least $29, so the Agora 4G is actually cheaper.

This list is rounded out with the BlackBerry Q5, which at the quoted $249.95 already costs more than an Agora 4G including postage.

Unless you're going to compare like with like - particularly with regard to locked and unlocked handsets - you might as well claim that the iPhone 5s is cheaper than the Agora 4G because you can get one for $0 upfront on a $100 per month plan.

Disclosure: The writer has purchased items from Kogan and Officeworks at prevailing prices.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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