How Do Costco Smartphone Prices Compare?

Costco sells food in vast containers at cheap prices. But are its smartphone deals such good value? Planhacker investigates.

Costco's entire business model revolves around buying in bulk and selling in large quantities through its six retail warehouses in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT. Buying in bulk makes a certain amount of sense if you're purchasing, say, toilet paper, but few of us buy smartphones in bulk. That hasn't stopped Costco from offering smartphones up from pallets in its stores.

The temptation must be strong. It's Costco, known for bulk buying and razor-thin margins, so it must be selling bargains, right?

Lifehacker editor Angus Kidman snapped pics of all the phones on sale in Melbourne last weekend, and we've looked over the offerings to see how they stack up against a range of Australian retailers.

N/A

Handset Costco Expansys Kogan Mobicity Dick Smith Harvey Norman
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids 8GB $199.99 N/A $179 $299.95 $227
Nokia Lumia 625 Black $239.99 N/A N/A $229.95 $248 $248
Samsung Galaxy S5 White $839.99 $799.53 $699 $699.95 $846 $894
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active $549.99 N/A $459 $449.95 $548 N/A
Samsung Galaxy Pocket Neo $109.99 N/A N/A $139.95 $129 N/A
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active White $589.99 N/A $469 N/A N/A N/A

All prices are as stated on vendor sites at 9:00am on 13/5/14

It's worth noting that for three of the handsets -- the Lumia 625 and Galaxy S4 Active and Pocket Neo -- Costco's advertising them with "Australian manufacturer's handset warranty", which suggests that they're not direct imports, although it's feasible the other handsets are. Costco's pricing includes an "instant" rebate, which we've ignored, because if it's going to simply charge you a lower price, then that's what you're actually paying, making the "rebate" an irrelevant distraction designed to make you think you're getting an even larger bargain.

Costco's really only cheaper for two devices, the generally unremarkable Galaxy Pocket Neo and the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids. As with most technology purchases, it really does pay to shop around, even when it looks like a bulk retailer is offering you a bargain.

Lifehacker's weekly Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.


Comments

    Comparing Costco prices with Kogan, Expansys and MobileCity does not make much sense as their products are import ones where you cannot claim GST as well as warranty is only 1 year.
    Comparison with DSE and Harvey Norman gives the correct picture.

      I've noted specifically in the article where Costco has made it clear it's covered by local warranty (which is often only a single specified year, although the usual consumer "reasonable use" provisions apply anyway) or not. The GST point may be apt depending on your financial situation; I would imagine there were a fair number of LH readers who wouldn't be in the position to claim GST back in any case.

        I agree that GST may not be for all but it does make difference of approx. $50 if someone is travelling overseas.
        Another point for Online stores is that unless free shipping, customer has to pay for shipping also. I believe shipping should also be accounted in the prices.

          But to purchase from CostCo you need to buy a membership card for $60 ($55 for a business)

    And yet mobicity (who i can recommend - especially if you can visit their store in Parramatta) seem to be the cheapest.

      r u sure mobicity have a store in australia?

    You had the wrong headline. It should have been: "Mobicity finally has cheaper prices than at least three other retailers"

    i live in adelaide.
    mobicity doesnt have any store here.
    no where in australia. only online service

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