Are we ready for a $1,000 cell phone?

It’s actually not the first cell to reach that price. For years, a company called Vertu has been selling gold-plated luxury phones that cost as much as $10,000 and come with free concierge service. Now that’s a smart phone. But it’s also a ridiculous price to pay.

But what about $1,000?

Five years ago no one would have paid that much for a phone. Back then phones were heavily subsidized and even a power user in those days rarely paid more than $300. Most people got “the free phone” which is why Android grew in popularity as it did. Back in those early days, Android wasn’t very good, but it was very cheap.

And then, carriers got wise to the idea that people didn’t want to be stuck with the same phone for 2-3 years and were willing to do some innovative things so they could have a new phone whenever they wanted. The upshot is that phones actually got more expensive. Plans from T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon let you upgrade your phone practically anytime by paying a monthly share of its cost and then turning the phone into the carrier for a new one when you wanted.

Good news for style-conscious millennials, bad news for lovers of “the free phone.” These days practically no one has a 2-year contract, but on the other hand if you want the latest iPhone or Galaxy, you’ll pay over $600.

But are we about to hit that $1,000 mark? Yes, according to rumors. Apple’s no-holds-barred attempt to take back technological leadership and reassume the mantle of undisputed tech wizardry will probably cost over $1,000 in its highest storage incarnation. And guess what, people will pay it.

The smartphone is undoubtedly the most important possession most people have. There’s no doubt that people would choose it over a computer or television if they could have only one, and I suspect that most people would skip a meal or two rather than be disconnected. It’s just that important. And carriers are smart. This isn’t 1995 folks, they don’t need to convince you to get a phone. They know you’re addicted and they’ll find ways to feed that addiction. Those ways will be ever more expensive, too.

Of course you don’t have to buy a $1,000 phone. There are plenty of used phones in great shape that are 1-2 years old and need nothing more than a new battery (if that.) You can also find some very competent brand new phones in the $200 range that would blow away most 2014 phones. No one is saying that you really need the edge-to-edge goodness that is the iPhone 8 or Galaxy S8.

But as important as our phones are to us, they’re also status symbols very much the way our cars are. It’s very easy to find a competent, comfortable car that’s pretty well tricked out for under $30,000 yet people will spend more for exactly what they want. Luxury and position are just as important as features for some people and these are the people who will get those new phones.

Some day, in some far off future, historians will look at the passion and love we have for these little slivers of glass and aluminum and wonder why we worshiped them so much. Perhaps not, though; perhaps it will be obvious to them that the phone, more than anything else is the lens through which we view our lives, the oracle that instantly satisfies our need to know, and the lifeline through which we reach our loved ones and those who keep us safe. In one package, it answers, speaks, entertains, informs, and engages.

Wow. When you put it that way, $1,000 doesn’t seem so bad.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.