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UK watchdog takes Apple and Google to task over storage upgrade prices

Markups of 1,000 percent found on leading tablet models
Wed Nov 20 2013, 12:50
Apple iPad Air is the iPad 5

CONSUMER CHAMPION Which? has taken technology manufacturers to task over their pricing policies for internal storage.

It has criticised Google, Apple, Amazon and Samsung for pricing smartphones and tablets disproportionally higher for more internal storage.

A Which? survey revealed that in some cases the markup for more internal storage reaches a mindboggling 1,000 percent. Which? based its findings on a cost of £5.95 for 16GB of flash storage. This figure is definitely not a price one would expect to pay for, say a flash drive, but for internal components it seems reasonable.

It noted that a 32GB iPad Air costs £80 more than the 16GB version, while Google charges £70 extra on the Nexus 10 and Amazon £40 extra on the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.

The watchdog also commented on the fact that the storage space quoted is often far less than advertised because figures do not take into account built-in apps and the operating system.

It called out the 16GB Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, which advertises 16GB of internal storage but in fact has only 10GB available to the user. In the case of Android tablets, we can also add that updates to system apps aren't part of the ROM image, meaning that, although a factory reset will return a tablet to factory state, we have had tablets into the office that by the time all system apps were updated had no internal space left, and often no option to move apps to SD card.

As such the only option is to forego the updates or root the tablet and add the apps to the ROM image manually, which voids the warranty and often leads to other problems. We certainly don't recommend it unless you are absolutely certain about what you are doing.

Which? editor Richard Headland told The INQUIRER, "With tablets in demand this Christmas, buyers will be shocked to discover what a raw deal they're getting on built-in memory. If you want the best value storage, then buy a tablet with a SD or microSD slot and add a memory card for a fraction of the cost."

We have noticed the increasing number of phones and tablets coming in to the office that have a paltry 8GB of internal storage for their starter model with optional models at higher prices.

The idea of an 8GB smartphone would have seemed laughable five years ago, so the fact that it seems to be becoming more prevalent suggests that handset makers are using this ploy as a way of artificially lowering baseline prices and extracting more profits with 'premium' models. µ


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