I've been doing some Googling for GSM shields and their prices and frankly I don't understand why they are so expensive on average.

The official one sold by Arduino is 71 euros for me (I live in Europe), and third party ones have similar prices.

A cheap dumb-phone is usually 30 euros and those phones have become really impressive these days, they have even a camera. When they are locked with the carrier the price can go as low as 20 euros. How is it even possible that a single part of what is supposed to make up a phone is more expensive than the phone itself? :(

Thanks in advance!

  • Economies of scale? – gre_gor Jul 11 '17 at 16:29
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    @AlbertoLaRocca no, the GSM shield is sold on a global scope, the scale (number of units sold) is miniscule compared to phones. – Chris Stratton Jul 11 '17 at 17:15
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    @SmartHead You should also read the help center yourself, because edits are not for flagging something as off-topic. – gre_gor Jul 12 '17 at 0:10
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    @Michel Keijzers you approved an utterly improper title edit to this question. NEVER DO THAT AGAIN. – Chris Stratton Jul 12 '17 at 20:38
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    @Hasan you approved an utterly improper title edit to this question. NEVER DO THAT AGAIN. – Chris Stratton Jul 12 '17 at 20:39

If you are ready to wait a month for delivery and also giving up flexibility by restricting yourself to just sending and receiving SMS, then you can go as low as €2 for a DIY kit on AliExpress.

By adding more money, you also get more features. Just sarch for "gsm arduino" or "SIM800", "SIM900".

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    Sorry but that doesn't answer at all. All right, I can go as low as 2 euros, and why such a crazy difference? Just because I can't make voice calls? My 30 euro dumb-phone actually CAN make voice calls. – Alberto La Rocca Jul 11 '17 at 16:20
  • Some of these probably can make voice calls on a suitable network, and some probably won't work on the current network in your country at all. A big part of the cost difference is not having a local distributor standing behind their suitability. – Chris Stratton Jul 11 '17 at 17:16
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    I thougt you was just complaining about the price. Well the reason is simple. Those devices are produced in small batches. Non of those suitable for use with arduino are used in actual phones. Phones have SoCs so the modem is integrated into the CPU. Just take a look at a Qualcomm Snapdragon. Those have built in LTE modems. Also iPhone CPUs have integrated modems. So you would have to pay a lot more if a manufacturer used those for Arduino Shields. Also you would get more than you asked for. Like a CPU, GPU and system memory. – Kwasmich Jul 11 '17 at 17:23
  • However Flash storage is external. so those would be even more expensive if you want run them with pre configured firmware/software/operating system or such. The development of those will likely also take a bunch of money. Not to mention licensing fees. – Kwasmich Jul 11 '17 at 17:24
  • @Kwasmich - it may be that some of the modules are simply low-end feature phone SoCs with a serial port brought out. Or at least, that seems like it could be the most economical way to make a module. – Chris Stratton Jul 11 '17 at 22:14

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