The world’s first curved smartphones made by Samsung and LG have been met with a negative consumer reaction.
The early sales volume has stayed at a meager level, since the flexible smartphones have inferior features and have had to compete against other flagship handsets launched around the same time. Those are the reasons why the market is showing a cold response to the curved smartphones, which should be called “pilot products.”
Losing Momentum at the Early Stages
According to sources in the mobile telecommunications industry on November 20, less than 100,000 units of Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Round were sold 40 days after its October 10 launch through SK Telecom.
An industry source said, “The specifications of the Galaxy Round are similar to those of other premium phones, but consumers seem to regard Samsung’s curved smartphone as strange.” The source added, “To the best of my knowledge, less than 100,000 units have been sold so far.”
LG’s curved phone is not popular, either. After the October 12 introduction through three local mobile carriers, only 200-300 units of the G Flex are reported to be subscribed to mobile telecommunications operators each day. Its sales figures are just a drop in the bucket compared to that of other recently-unveiled flagship phones. For example, 500,000 units of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 were sold 40 days after its launch. As for the Pantech Vega Secret Note, more than 200,000 units were sold for a month after its release, with average daily sales volumes amounting to 5,000 units.
These results show that usually at least 100,000 units of premium smartphones are sold for a month after the introduction. However, curved smartphones are an exception, despite having similar specifications.
Failure to Differentiate
Customers do not appear to be very enthusiastic about curved smartphones.
A sales clerk at a mobile phone store in the Gangnam underground shopping arcade said, “Occasionally, people ask about the Galaxy Round and the G Flex, but they are just curious about the new handsets. So, they rarely buy those curved phones.” The sales clerk added, “I don’t think that curved phones have any distinctive characteristics in comparison to other premium smartphones. They are just a little bit curved. That's all.”
The curved phones’ poor sales appear to have been affected by stiff competition in the market. There has been intense competition between handset manufacturers. Since September, the Galaxy Note 3, the G2, the Vega Secret Note, the iPhone 5s, and the Nexus 5 have been revealed one after another.
Flexible phones are not competitive in price either. The Galaxy Round costs 1.089 million won (US$1,025.32) per unit, which is the most expensive among all of the smartphones released so far this year. The G Flex is priced at 999,000 won (US$940.59), the most expensive among LG’s smartphones. The subsidy for the two curved phones is valued at 100,000 won, similar to that of the iPhone 5s.
The industry source commented, “Customers are not much interested in curved smartphones, since other flagship products were released around the same time.” The source concluded by saying, “After the introduction of the two curved smartphones, there was controversy as to whether or not those products were made just to show off Samsung’s or LG’s technology. Apparently, the significance of the Galaxy Round and the G Flex lies in the fact that they are the industry’s first flexible smartphones.”