With smartphones these days costing a moon and a little more, manufacturers are having to take a different route to creating value for customers. This means bundling in content and data packages, as well as allowing users free access to certain web services or social networking sites. We’ve also seen accessories such as flip covers and battery packs thrown in to lure more customers. But how often does this factor into your buying decision? If it doesn’t, it should.

The great specs divide between high-end and low-cost local manufacturers has dissipated. And there’s very little differentiation in terms of hardware even among established brands like Samsung, Sony, LG and HTC. So value propositions are more important than you think when buying a phone. Just look at the bundles and packages being offered with newly launched smartphones.

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All focus on consumption

Moreover, as smartphones and tablets transition from gadgets to our primary consumption devices, multimedia streaming apps or software for TV on-the-go takes centre stage. Manufacturers often take the easy route and offer subsidised or free subscriptions to these apps along with the new phone. Bigflix is one such app, and most manufacturers bundle in a limited period subscription for it with their new phone.

That seems like an easy way out, but some companies have it easier. Sony, for example, owns a huge collection of movies, music and TV shows to distribute through its devices and designated apps. It’s a win-win situation for Sony and the customers. Buyers of the Sony Xperia Z1 will be able to get free music downloads and streaming for six months and exclusive access to unseen footage from popular TV shows through its Sony LIV and Sony Music apps. In addition, the company has also tied up with Bigflix to bring six free movies a month for a limited time. Then there’s a portable battery charger worth Rs 2,790 and accidental damage insurance for six months, both included in the introductory package. If that wasn’t enough Sony has tied up with Vodafone to give users 8GB of free data for a limited period.

Earlier, Sony's massive phablet, the Xperia Z Ultra also got a similar offer at launch. The phone comes with a month's access to Bigflix and the full version of the Asphalt 7 game. That's in addition to the same Sony Liv and Sony Music offers that the Z1 comes with.

Sony's massive Xperia Z Ultra comes with free movies thanks to Bigflix

This is how Sony envisions you watching all those movies

Samsung set the ball rolling with the Galaxy Grand earlier this year. While everyone scoffed at the slightly higher price (Rs 21,500) of the decidedly mid-range handset, Samsung boasted about the plethora of free infotainment content on the phone. As a reminder, Samsung’s ‘My Services’ scheme included myMovies, myMusic, myMobileTV and myStation for entertainment services. MyMobileTV gave buyers 100+ Live TV channels while myStation streamed live concerts. myMovies brought access to Indian movies, trailers and film songs, while myMusic allows them to download from among 250,000 songs. In the information category, myReader and myEducation, gave users access to Indian newspapers, magazines, over 30,000 books and audio books. According to Samsung, all these features are worth Rs 8,000 and hence can be written off from the cost of the phone. While that may indeed be an exaggeration, it can’t be denied that it brought extra value to the Grand. And it sold like hot cakes, if you needed more convincing.

Galaxy Grand sold like hot cakes

Galaxy Grand was a market hit

With the Note 3, Samsung has done more of the same and this time, it claims content and goodies worth Rs 15,000 will be thrown in along with the flagship phablet. This included pre-loaded apps, as well as downloadable premium content through Samsung Apps. This is besides the snazzy new flip cover and free 2GB of 3G data for three months for Vodafone users.

It’s not just the Android heavyweights that are trying to woo customers with such deals. Buyers of Nokia’s new Lumia 625, the largest-screened Lumia device, will get movies worth Rs 4,275 with the device. They can choose from among 3,000 movies through the dedicated Your Movies app. Nokia is also throwing in content claimed to be worth Rs 16,000, which includes movies, eBooks from Flipkart and access to the Nokia Music Store, among other options. In addition, there’s 10GB worth of free Wi-Fi data at McDonald’s, Subway and Cafe Coffee Day outlets for three months. There’s complimentary 3GB 3G data for three months on the Tata Docomo network. Bear in mind, that the Lumia 625 is officially priced at Rs 19,999.

The Lumia 625 comes with great offers for movie buffs

The Lumia 625 comes with great offers for movie buffs

Back in April, when the Lumia 520, 620 and 720 were just launched in India, Nokia gave buyers a three-month subscription to Bigflix. Over on the Asha platform, Nokia tied up with Facebook to give buyers of Asha 501 free Facebook access on Airtel.

As smartphones get more powerful and hence more expensive, the need for such content-based and accessories-based value creation is greater than ever. Not only is it a second front for manufacturers to position its marketing muscle, but it also give buyers a well-rounded experience, that’s not just about native apps and ecosystem.

Cover image: Mobile entertainment on Shutterstock

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