High-end smartphones priced at $200 or higher made up more than 83% of the market last year, according to Informa. That share is expected to drop to 33% by 2017, however. The research firm predicts that by 2017 affordable smartphones, or those priced below $150 with no contract, will account for a majority of sales, CNET reported. The shift in the mobile industry isn’t good news for smartphone manufacturers, which are expected to see smaller profit margins as prices continue to drop. The market of the future is expected to become increasingly split between high-end smartphones that continue to be heavily subsidies by wireless carriers, and cheaper prepaid devices. More →
AT&T (T) smartphone users on a tight budget will have a new prepaid option starting October 7th. AT&T on Monday said that it would launch a new prepaid GoPhone plan next month that will include unlimited talk and text and 1GB of data, and will cost just $65 a month. AT&T currently offers prepaid data plans that start at $50 a month for unlimited text and talk, with the option of adding data plans starting at $5 (50MB), $15 (200MB) and $25 (1GB). AT&T’s new $65 prepaid GoPhone plan will provide $10 in savings for the same unlimited talk and text plus 1GB of data per month. The carrier said it will not be discontinuing existing prepaid plans, and added that the $65 is simply another option. AT&T is also launching the $99 Fusion 2 Android smartphone alongside the new prepaid plan. The company’s full press release follows below.
More and more wireless users are opting out of two-year service agreements and switching to prepaid. New data released by Chetan Sharma Consulting shows that American wireless carriers as a whole actually lost postpaid subscribers for the first time, as the top seven carriers in the United States lost a combined 52,000 postpaid subscribers. The drop in postpaid subscriptions has coincided with a surge in pay-as-you-go prepaid wireless subscriptions, which have risen 15% year-over-year while postpaid subscriptions have risen just 1%. The biggest beneficiary of this trend has been Sprint, which has long promoted its prepaid options as a cheaper alternative for cash-strapped consumers. Chetan Sharma notes that Sprint “is the only US operator that has added more than 1 million subs every quarter since Q4 2010.” Overall, the firm recognizes that the shift toward prepaid contracts may have more to do with the bad economy of the past four years than with genuine consumer preference and notes that “it is possible that the newly minted prepaid subs might return to postpaid subscriptions.” With the prepaid iPhone coming to Virgin Mobile and Cricket, it seems that smartphone users will have even more reasons to switch to prepaid in the near future. More →
Apple’s ever-popular iPhone will be coming to yet another prepaid wireless carrier this summer, according to a new Market Watch report. Citing unnamed sources, Market Watch’s Thomas Gryta Tuesday reported on Tuesday that Virgin Mobile USA licensee Sprint would announce this week that Virgin Mobile subscribers will be able to use the iPhone as their device of choice for prepaid voice and data services. Gryta didn’t say exactly when Virgin Mobile would start offering the prepaid iPhone but said it could start as soon as July. Earlier rumors have indicated that Sprint also plans to bring the iPhone to Boost Mobile, another of its prepaid wireless carriers. Regional carrier Cricket, owned by Leap Wireless, was the first carrier to officially offer the iPhone alongside its prepaid plans and is charging users $399.99 for the 8GB iPhone 4 and $499.99 for the 16GB iPhone 4S. More →
Prepaid mobile carrier Boost Mobile reportedly has plans to launch Apple’s iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 smartphones in early September. Citing an unnamed source, TechnoBuffalo recently reported that the Sprint-owned virtual carrier will offer both models with no contracts alongside its $50 unlimited prepaid plan, which includes unlimited voice calling, text messaging and Web. The handsets will launch just ahead of the expected debut of Apple’s next-generation iPhone this fall. Cricket will become the first prepaid carrier in the United States to offer the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 when it debuts the handsets on June 22nd. The carrier will offer Apple’s 8GB iPhone 4 for $399.99 with no contract, and the iPhone 4S will cost $499.99 — details regarding iPhone pricing from Boost Mobile was not made available. More →
Beginning on June 22nd, consumers in the United States will be able to purchase a new iPhone to be used alongside prepaid wireless service. Regional carrier Cricket, owned by Leap Wireless, will offer Apple’s iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 off contract alongside its $55 unlimited talk, text and data plan. Though labeled as unlimited, the plan includes 2.3GB of full-speed data, and speeds will be throttled once that threshold is reached. While the news marks the start of a new chapter for Apple’s current iPhone models, the high hardware cost compared to other prepaid smartphones may be a substantial barrier for many subscribers. Cricket plans to charge $399.99 for the 8GB iPhone 4 and $499.99 for the 16GB version of the iPhone 4S. Apple’s iPhone 3GS is seen as a much more compelling handset for prepaid carriers, which may soon begin offering the 3-year-old device for between $200 and $250 off contract. Cricket’s full press release follows below. More →
Apple’s iPhone 3GS was unveiled nearly 3 years ago in June 2009, and some found its familiar styling and modest hardware upgrades to be disappointing. The handset went on to be Apple’s best-selling smartphone until its successor launched the following year, and the iPhone 4 would be Apple’s best-selling iPhone until the iPhone 4S launched last year and drove the biggest quarter in Apple’s history. The iPhone 3GS will be 3 years and 3 generations old when Apple’s sixth iPhone is unveiled later this year, but one analyst believes the Cupertino, California based company is ready to breathe new life into the handset. More →
Verizon Wireless on Monday announced a new prepaid plan that offers unlimited talk, text, and 1GB of data for $80. The monthly plan is only being offered on the 3G Samsung Illusion, which can be had for $169.99 and will be available at Best Buy, Target, RadioShack and Walmart. Verizon also announced three different prepaid plans for its Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot. The nation’s largest carrier is offering 250MB of data for usage for a week for $15, 3GB of data per month for $60, and 10GB a month for $90. The Verizon Jetpack 4510L will be available for $129.99. Verizon’s press release follows below.
T-Mobile announced on Monday that it has teamed up with Walmart to offer an exclusive $30 monthly prepaid plan that provides unlimited web and text. The new plan will be available online and in more than 2,200 Walmart stores across the United States. “T-Mobile is thrilled to offer this exclusive, affordable service plan, designed specifically with heavy text and data users in mind, to meet the demand for prepaid, which is expected to double by 2015,” said Amy McCune, vice president of national retail, T-Mobile USA. The plan will come with 100 minutes and additional talk time will cost $0.10 per minute. By October 15th, T-Mobile will offer a total of six prepaid handsets, including one with “4G” support. Read on for the full press release from T-Mobile USA. More →
Apple will unveil two new iPhone models next month, an all new iPhone 5 and a revamped iPhone 4 that will address the entry-level smartphone market. Deutsche Bank Securities analyst Chris Whitmore on Monday rehashed a research note he distributed this past June, which suggested Apple would unveil an iPhone 5 and an “iPhone 4S” in September. The iPhone 5 would be Apple’s brand new flagship smartphone, and the 4S would be a low-cost version of the current iPhone 4 model priced around $349 unlocked. The analyst’s new note mirrors those sentiments, though Whitmore now offers a few additional details. Read on for more. More →
In an effort to edge in on MetroPCS and Sprint-owned Boost and Virgin Mobile, Verizon Wireless will introduce a brand new $50 monthly prepaid this week that includes unlimited text, talk and web, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. The new plan, which first launched back in April as “Unleashed” in limited markets, will be available to customers in Verizon stores, Walmart, Target and Best Buy. The new plan is much cheaper than Verizon’s current unlimited talk and text prepaid option, which currently costs $94.99 per month. “This is a very competitive market, and we want to make sure we have a price portfolio to fit a greater number of customers,” Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Raney said. “In these times there are some people who would prefer living on a prepaid plan.” Read on for more. More →
Apple is preparing to launch a new, less expensive iPhone 4 model that will become available at the end of September alongside the iPhone 5, Reuters reported on Tuesday. Citing multiple anonymous sources, the news organization says that the retooled iPhone 4 will feature a smaller 8GB flash drive manufactured by an unnamed South Korean company. Apple has sourced flash drives for its current iPhone models from Toshiba and Samsung. Reuters also contradicts recent reports that the iPhone 5 will launch in early October, writing instead that Apple is “targeting an end-September launch for the next-generation iPhone 5.” The report restates numerous others that claim the iPhone 5 will feature a larger display, a new antenna design and an 8-megapixel camera. More →
T-Mobile announced on Tuesday that it is now offering the LG GS170, a prepaid phone, in 6,000 Family Dollar stores around the United States. As you might expect from a phone being sold at a dollar store, the $30 GS170 offers a relatively basic feature set. It offers a large keypad, a VGA camera, Bluetooth 2.1 and support for e-mail. The phone will be available with T-Mobile’s no annual contract Monthly 4G plans, which includes the carrier’s $50 unlimited talk, text and web option. “T-Mobile’s track record for providing quality service and customer support fits well with our culture and commitment to the customer, and we are very excited to take our partnership to the next level and begin selling the company’s devices as well,” Family Dollar divisional vice president Bob Giles said, suggesting that Family Dollar will begin to stock more T-Mobile devices in the future. Read on for the full press release.