Pre-Paid Phones Account for All Growth in 2Q Smartphone Sales

The 9 percent growth in smartphone sales experienced in the second quarter came exclusively from pre-paid handsets, the NPD Group reports, and the vast majority of those were sold to buyers with an income under $35,000.

Cellular subscriptions were flat in the second quarter but pre-paid sales were up an astounding 91 percent, the NPD found. Last year, only a quarter of all smartphone buyers had an income under $35,000; this year, that percentage jumped to a full third on the back of thriving pre-paid sales.

"Prepaid smartphones are no longer just cheap, also-ran options, focused on older and less capable phones," NPD VP Stephen Baker said in the firm's press release. "As the smartphone market matures, and as growth slows, carriers have been smart to aggressively market some of their best current smartphones on a pre-paid basis to a new set of customers, in order to keep sales humming along."

IDC reports that iOS and Android phones accounted for 85 percent of all smartphone shipments in the second quarter. No other operating system claimed more than a 4.8 percent share. 

According to NPD, the top four smartphone manufacturers not named Apple were Samsung, HTC, Motorola and LG, respectively, which combined for 57 percent of all smartphone sales.