Despite being a great phone, the Galaxy S20 isn’t selling so hot right now. Samsung is trying to boost enthusiasm for its latest smartphone with a new buyback policy that ensures customers will get a sizable refund on the device in the future. And while guaranteed money sounds like a good deal, is it?
Customers can get at least fifty per cent of the purchase price refunded if they buy directly through Samsung’s online store and promise to trade in their smartphone within two years (in good condition, naturally). The catch is that you have to agree to the buy-back terms at the time of purchase, which caps your device’s estimated trade-in value at 50 per cent.
That’s not bad if you can keep your Galaxy S20 in decent shape for the next two years, but it also opts you out of any better trade-in deals that could show up in the future. You’ll be contractually obligated to follow through on your end of the deal when the time comes, even if Samsung drops a promo that could give you more money later.
So, what should you do about the Galaxy S20?
Like any long-term commitment, give this one some thought before saying yes. In fact, you should probably take some extra time to consider your options before buying a Galaxy S20 at all.
The S20 starts at $1,349 and the S20 Plus goes for at least $1,499. While not outlandish for a flagship smartphone, those prices would be difficult for some to justify even in an ideal scenario—but with the COVID-19 pandemic causing major economic disruptions, buying an expensive new flagship smartphone doesn’t really feel like a priority for many people right now.
Since this affects Samsung’s sales figures, it’s possible that the company could push down the price of the S20 line sooner than expected to boost sales as best it can. We’ve already seen sales slashing the Galaxy S20's price by as much as $400 just a few weeks after launch, and Samsung might need to consider a full-on price drop if it wants to move more of its phones off store shelves.
While that would, of course, lower the overall value of Samsung’s offer, it’ll also lower how much you’re paying out of pocket, right now, for its smartphone. And since you can’t take advantage of any other Samsung deals when purchasing with the buyback guarantee—you’ll have to pay the full price of the device—there are a lot of variables to consider.
The devil’s in the (timing) details
Our advice? If you absolutely need a smartphone now, and you know you’ll use it for at least two years, go for it. A basic, 64GB, two-year-old Galaxy S9 recently sold for anywhere from $330 to $50 on Swappa, yet that phone would have cost you $1,199 at launch. The $550 feels like an outlier figure, and is still slightly less than Samsung’s buyback deal would have given you (at the time), if that existed.
We suspect that Samsung’s latest phones will have even more longevity than the aged S9, so it’s possible their resale value might approach the halfway point in 2022. It’s also possible that the Galaxy S40 (or whatever) might be so incredible that the S20 feels like an afterthought. It’s a roll of the dice, but if you’re holding the phone for two years or longer, Samsung’s buyback deal seems like the right gamble.
However, if you think you’d ditch the S10 within a year and move to something better, find a discount that drops $330 off the phone’s asking price and sell it yourself when you’re done.
A Galaxy S10, launched at this time last year, sells for anywhere from $660 to $830 on Swappa, even though it would have cost you about $1,500 to buy from Samsung when it debuted.
If you managed to score the phone for $1,199 in some magical deal around that time, you would only be in the hole around $330-$500 if you sold it today. If Samsung had the same buyback offer back then, you’d be out $750. While it’s not a huge savings, and it’s not a guaranteed sale, the maths still works out in your favour.