Everyone likes a bargain, and we hate to pay over the odds for a product or service that’s available cheaper elsewhere.

There are brands that have a reputation for premium quality (and prices), and there are those that put themselves forward as the people’s champion, supplying decent products at everyday prices.

Samsung is a perfect example. The technology giant puts sophisticated consumer goods into our hands at affordable prices. South Korea’s super-brand has huge economies of scale to tap into, driving prices down. With the help of its mass-production of microwaves, washing machines, televisions, cameras, phones and computers, boxes of modern conveniences have filled the needy corners of our houses and our lives.

Copycat technology

Innovation isn’t the company’s strong point. Instead, Samsung majors in surveying the market to see what’s popular, what works, what sells, and then making its own version. In established areas of tech, such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners, there are few wheels to reinvent, so it can go along with other appliance-churners.

But when Samsung sets its eye on cutting-edge computing and smartphone technology, the competition can take exception at what it sees as copying its original ideas. Few people will have missed the on-going soap opera that is Apple and Samsung winning frequent-flyer seats in international high courts. The stakes are high, as much in brand reputation as in the financial reward from awarded damages or by removing the infringing product from sale.

On one side is Samsung, with its popular Galaxy phone and tablet tributes; on the other is Apple trying to protect its ideas and designs from being diluted by lookalike products, and looking like a sulking spoilsport for its troubles.

Can it be coincidence that Samsung’s most popular smartphone and tablet PC, the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab 10.1, bear a close resemblance to the iPhone and iPad?

One gets the idea that Apple would really rather retaliate against Google for emulating its mobile OS in the first place, more than just Samsung for selling Android on hardware that tries so hard to copy its product. But this war is by proxy so far, with Samsung in the firing line.

And the fact remains that people like a bargain. While the Galaxy Tab ultimately failed to make much of a dent in iPad 2 sales, Samsung’s Galaxy S II has picked up numerous awards as a winning smartphone. That’s as much for the value it seems to offer: all the touchscreen goodness of the iPhone, available in your pocket for less.

Google smartphones like the Galaxy fill an important place for people who don’t mind if their smartphone’s only almost as good as the original. They’re good enough for those who can overlook minor shortcomings, such as flaky browsers and frictional interfaces.

And Google phones are compelling for anyone who likes to tinker or install apps outside of a single point of delivery. The semi-open-source nature of Android appeals to hackers and hot-rodders.

But Android’s huge market share mostly comprises people who just want what they see as a bargain, a phone that can surf the net and play games and give them their Facebook updates. A phone they think or have been told is every bit as good as an iPhone, but ?is cheaper to buy on a monthly subscription plan.

Premium Google phones are nipping at the heels of the iPhone, and the Galaxy Nexus is the latest Samsung-Google co-production to define the state of the Android art. Read our review to see how the Nexus 3 squares up as the everyman alternative.