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iPhone and high-end phones in trouble as we 'focus on price'

Bargain-hunting phone fans spell trouble for the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S4 and other pricey phones, according to the top man from Orange.

Bargain-hunting phone fans spell trouble for the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S4 and other pricey phones, according to the man behind Orange. With the Google Nexus 4 leading the charge for bargain blowers, it seems we're going off the idea of spending four, five, six hundred quid on a high-end phone.

"Customers are more focused on price," the boss of Orange-owning France Telecom Stephane Richard told Bloomberg. "Selling a phone for $600 is getting more and more difficult." 

That's especially true in Europe. Bargain-hunting Brits and canny continentals are squeezing profits and share prices for European networks, with US carriers able to charge much more for contracts.

France Telecom owns Orange here and around the world, although it's merged the British branch of Orange with the British branch of T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom under the name EE.

Trouble at the top 

It seems savvy Europeans are keeping the same phone even when switching networks. Orange honcho Richard reckons there are fewer early adopters rushing out to pick up the latest must-have gadgets, and with value becoming more of a concern, expensive high-end devices are becoming less and less tenable.

"Changing consumer behaviour" threatens pricey phones most of all: aside from "a few hundred thousand people who will buy the latest iPhone", for most of us owning the latest bleeding edge gewgaw is becoming less of a priority than finding a better price for our kit. That doesn't bode well for the launch of the S4, the next iPhone, and other flagship phones.

Où est le S4's 'je ne sais quoi'?

It doesn't help that excitement about the iPhone, the S4 and other high-end phones seems to have peaked. The latest premier league phones have seen incremental upgrades rather than cool, sweeping new features: the iPhone has looked the same for years, and the S4 marks the first time a new Samsung Galaxy S flagship has looked the same as its predecessor, drawing flak from fans. The desire for a bargain in these austere times and the perceived lack of pizazz in today's top-tier phones spell trouble for those class-leading phones.

Hit play on our video to see high-end rivals compete as the S4 squares up to the Lumia 920, HTC One, iPhone 5 and Nexus 4.

Now playing: Watch this: Galaxy S4 vs iPhone and others

Could frugal phone fans force Apple to introduce a lower-cost iPhone? Rumours have swirled about a budget-friendly iPhone for as long as there's been an iPhone. Apple recently launched the iPad mini, a low-cost version of the iPad tablet, and Samsung is also playing the game with the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini.

But if you are looking for a bargain with your next phone or tablet, we have one word for you: Nexus. The Google Nexus 4 is a high-specced smart phone with cutting-edge Android software and costs just £240, while the Google Nexus 7 tablet costs a mere £160. Press play on our video below to see how you get more for your money with the the Nexus 4, winner of a coveted CNET Editors' Choice award.

Now playing: Watch this: Google Nexus 4

Have high-end phones lost their sparkle? Is value the new yardstick for judging the latest gadgets? Or are high-priced powerhouses going to be best? Tell me your thoughts in the comments on our Facebook page.