The latest Android smartphones are available unlocked through top carriers. These newer deals are becoming increasingly popular as more people are willing to invest more money upfront to get new phones. The existence of new unlocked deals doesn’t reduce the number of carrier contracts and special offers available.

Experts in the mobile industry are considering this new array of offers as a new trend to anticipate. Will future phones be offered without data plans and contracts?

Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S8

The increasing popularity of unlocked phones started with the Google Pixel and Pixel XL. Despite being sold in the £400+ price bracket – unlike the Nexus line from Google that was priced more reasonably – Google Pixel and Pixel XL received a warm welcome, mainly in the US and European markets. In the UK, both Pixel and Pixel XL are even sold at premium prices after Brexit.

The move was then followed by Samsung Galaxy S8. The phone removes any carrier branding altogether, even on units sold as part of a contract. OEMs like LG with its G6 are following along and are starting to offer high-end devices without contracts.

Unlocked vs. Locked

The biggest difference between the two purchase options is the amount customers have to pay upfront. Locked phones come with a subsidy and a contract, usually for 12 to 24 months. The phones are often offered for free as long as customers are willing to commit to the long-term contract. There are upgrade options and trade-in deals to make upgrading just as easy.

There are times when having a locked phone can cause issues. When travelling overseas, for instance, a locked phone means you can’t switch to a local carrier. That said, most carriers allow its customers to unlock their phones for a fee, albeit with a complicated process. Services such as Unlocking Smart offer the same option for much less and without the extra hassle.

Unlocked phones come with the ability to use any carrier the customer wants to use. However, there is a hefty price to pay to get the device, usually more than £400 for flagship phones and around £300 for mid-range devices. The big investment may also prevent you from upgrading to the next big thing in a year.

Reshaping the Market

The demand for both ways to get a new phone – unlocked and locked – is climbing steadily. It is surprising to see the increasing number of unlocked phones available isn’t really eating into the market for contract-based phone deals. These two purchase options simply give customers more ways to get the devices they want.

We’re also seeing more deals being made available for both purchase options. Contracts now offer better data and voice deals, along with more features such as free Netflix subscription. Unlocked phones are being offered with extra accessories (i.e. launching bundle or cross-promotions) to make the steep price more justifiable for customers. Either way, unlocked phone deals is a trend that is here to stay.