The number of quality smartphone options in the prepaid category is growing fast – and that's obvious when you look at sales results from the second quarter.
The total number of smartphones sold between April and June in the U.S. was up 9 percent over the same quarter a year ago, but sales of postpaid smartphones were flat, meaning prepaid devices were responsible for the entire jump, according to research by NPD Group. In fact, sales of prepaid smartphones are up 91 percent from a year ago.
“Prepaid smartphones are no longer just cheap, also-ran options, focused on older and less capable phones," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at The NPD Group. “As the smartphone market matures, and as growth slows, carriers have been smart to aggressively market some of their best current smartphones on a prepaid basis to a new set of customers, in order to keep sales humming along."
Prepaid popularity is likely to rise even more. Two prepaid carriers – Sprint's Virgin Mobile USA and Leap's Cricket Communications – began offering Apple's iconic iPhone just days before the quarter ended. Apple and Samsung are the clear-cut leaders, the researcher said.
"By concentrating on their best, flagship devices, while at the same time supplementing their volumes with lower priced alternatives, both Apple and Samsung are extending their lead over the other smartphone makers," said Baker. “To be a share leader means participating in all segments of the market, in order to take advantage of prepaid and other growth opportunities, while also providing the hero devices that drive customers to your brand."