The market research firm estimates that 46.5 million active unlocked smartphones were running on US mobile networks during the first quarter of 2019, a 22 percent increase from the same period last year.
Consumers are increasingly opting for unlocked mobile phones and spending more money on them, according to the NPD Group.
The market research firm estimates that 46.5 million active unlocked smartphones were running on US mobile networks during the first quarter of 2019, a 22 percent increase from the same period last year. At this point, three out of four consumers (77 percent) are aware of unlocked devices, the NPD Group said.
With an unlocked mobile device, you have the freedom to choose any compatible carrier, take advantage of cheap prepaid plans, and use it with an affordable pay-as-you-go card when traveling overseas to avoid international roaming charges. You can also switch service providers or sell the phone whenever you like, and you won’t have to deal with carrier-installed bloatware.
“Most consumers are aware of the advantages, such as lower cost and freedom to choose their carrier, that unlocked devices provide, and we are seeing that convert into adoption,” NPD Connected Intelligence Executive Director and Industry Analyst Brad Akyuz said in a statement. “Carriers are also playing a role in education through aggressive BYOD (bring your own device) offers, which give consumers yet another opportunity to bring their device to a new network to take advantage of a discounted rate.”
In the past, the unlocked mobile device market was “dominated by devices priced under $400,” but that’s changing, NPD said. In the first quarter of this year, models priced above $400 accounted for 48 percent of the market, up from 29 percent just two years ago. Nearly a quarter of people currently using an unlocked smartphone paid between $500 and $700 for it.
“This uptick in price is in parallel to the overall increase we are seeing in smartphone average selling prices,” Akyuz said. “The growing popularity of device financing programs available from big box retailers is another driver allowing price-sensitive unlocked smartphone shoppers to get their hands on the expensive unlocked hero devices.”