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What the Wendy’s and T-Mobile phone deals tell us about the state of mobile in 2021

Wendy’s Canada: A free Samsung Galaxy A11

Wendy’s — at least the Wendy’s in Canada — has a phone, and they’re giving away one every day!

https://twitter.com/WendysCanada/status/1442466554168414209

The Canadian mobile tech site MobileSyrup reports that it’s a Wendy’s-branded Samsung Galaxy A11, which is one of the better “starter” phones, especially where the camera is concerned.

For those of you like reviews, Android Authority called it a “a solid starter” in their August 1, 2020 review, while Android Police recommended that you should only buy it on sale in their April 15, 2021 piece.

If you prefer specs, the A11 is powered by an older chipset, the Snapdragon SDM450, with octa-core 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53 and Adreno 506 GPU. You can see its full specs on GSMArena.

T-Mobile U.S.: A free Samsung Galaxy A12

I unexpectedly got a free phone — complete with free line! — from T-Mobile last month. I was there to add a line to my plan for someone in my family, and it turned out that I chose the right time. It was during one of those promotions where if you added a line to a plan, they’d give you an extra line that’s free of charge forever and with a free phone!

They asked if I wanted one, and after confirming that it wouldn’t cost me anything extra, said yes.

The free phone is a Samsung Galaxy A12, the successor to the A11 that Wendy’s Canada is giving away. T-Mobile currently offers both phones at the same price: $180, which can be paid off over two years in monthly payments equal to the cost of a Big Mac meal with ice cream cone

As for the reviews, PhoneArena sums up the A12 with the title Cheap can be fun, ExpertReviews gets snarky by calling it A killer battery for a great price, and Android Police say that it’s Aging ungracefully.

The A11 uses the Mediatek MT6765 Helio P35 chipset, with octa-core (4×2.35 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A53) and PowerVR GE8320 GPU. You can see its full specs on GSMArena.

The A12 is going to be my new low-end Android test phone, and since it came with a free line, I now have another secret phone number (oh yes, I have a couple of ’em), which is very often a handy thing to have.

What these freebies tell us about the state of mobile in 2021

These phones sell for about $200, the low end of a price spectrum whose high end is about $1,200. Think about it: What other consumer category gives away freebies valued at 16% to 20% of the top-of-the-line versions of the product?

These free phones live in the sweet spot where:

  • They’re cheap enough to give away,
  • yet valuable enough that customers feel that they’re getting an amazing deal when they get one for free.

In the case of the T-Mobile deal with the A12, I got an additional free line for as long as I’m a customer — that’s something they’re willing to give away and write off as a marketing/customer loyalty expense.

According to Pew Research Center, 35% of Americans owned a smartphone a decade ago, which was a mere four years after the industry-changing iPhone keynote and three years after the introduction of the App Store. Smartphones had already moved out of the “early adopter” zone, but they were still in the “nice to have, but not absolutely necessary” category.

Today, 85% of Americans own a smartphone, and they’re now considered to be a necessity with a price for every budget.

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