The Apple iPhone X Max sells for more than $1,000, and the new foldable Samsung phone costs almost $2,000.
Google’s going the other direction.
The search engine giant unveiled it’s newest Pixel smartphone, which at $399 costs about half of what current models run, and now the phone will be sold by most U.S. carriers, ending the long-time distribution tie-up the company had with Verizon.
The phone has been an also-ran in a market dominated by Samsung and Apple, companies that far outspent Google on advertising.
Google is hoping the new Pixel 3a, which has only one front camera and no wireless charging option, will help close the gap.
Mario Queiroz, the Google vice president overseeing Pixel, told Reuters last week:
“Getting into the market initially, it was better to do it in a focused way, but we’ve got to the point where we’re ready to do it more broadly.”
Earlier Pixel devices have drawn strong user reviews for camera features and artificial intelligence capabilities that beat those in phones from Samsung and other manufacturers using Google’s Android mobile operating system.
Google walks a thin line when producing and promoting its cell phones because other phone companies such as Samsung run Google’s Android operating system. At some level, Google is cannibalizing the business of its Android partners to sell its own phones, which could make for uncomfortable meetings down the road.
As consumers around the world buy phones for their kids and aging parents, it makes sense to check out a new version that might not have all the latest hardware, but it’s a solid performer and at half the price. When they break it or lose it you might not be quite as mad.