Smartphones priced $400+ represent nearly half of unlocked devices

Port Washington, NY, July 22, 2019– The unlocked mobile phone market is experiencing steady growth with an estimated 46.5 million active unlocked smartphones running on U.S. mobile networks, an increase of 22 percent from the end of Q1 2018 to Q1 2019. Based on the latest findings from NPD’s Unlocked Phone DemandReport 4.0, during the first quarter of this year three out of four (77 percent) consumers reported awareness of unlocked devices, as exposure in retail and digital channels has continued to grow over time.

This increasing awareness is allowing original equipment manufacturers to target consumers beyond the initial user groups of frugal consumers looking for lower-priced devices that deliver, and high-end, tech focused consumers, looking to differentiate from the standard choices. Some of the most noticeable shifts in unlocked smartphone adoption occurred among women and consumers aged 35-54.

“Most consumers are aware of the advantages, such as lower cost and freedom to choose their carrier, that unlocked devices provideand we are seeing that convert into adoption,” said Brad Akyuz, executive director and industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence. “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.”

Though the unlocked market was once dominated by devices priced under $400, models priced in the upper mid-tier and high-tier space (the $400+ category) grew from 29 percent to 48 percent in just two years. In fact, phones priced from $500 to $700 now account for almost a quarter of the installed base of unlocked smartphones.

“This uptick in price is in parallel to the overall increase we are seeing in smartphone average selling prices. 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,” noted Akyuz.

The results of the NPD Group Connected Intelligence Unlocked Phone DemandReport 4.0 are based on online consumer panel research of over 1,500 U.S. unlocked smartphone owners, aged 18+ from diverse regions and demographical backgrounds. This survey was fielded in May 2019.

About Connected Intelligence
Connected Intelligence provides competitive intelligence and insight on the rapidly evolving consumer’s connected environment. The service focuses on the three core components of the connected market: the device, the broadband access that provides the connectivity and the content that drives consumer behavior. These three pillars of the connected ecosystem are analyzed through a comprehensive review of what is available, adopted, and consumed by the customer, as well as reviewing how the market will evolve over time and what the various vendors can do to best position themselves in this evolving market. For more information: