US Carriers Court BYOD Users Amid Longer Upgrade Cycles

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Wireless carriers in the United States are catching on that people are less inclined to buy new smartphones these days, and are responding with competing offers meant to appeal to the BYOD crowd. Sprint is the latest and most dramatic example, offering a free year of unlimited service to switchers from its three rival carriers through the end of the month. T-Mobile, meanwhile, is running a #getoutofthered promotion that allows Verizon customers to bring over their Pixel or iPhone and get the device's payment plan paid off. Verizon has courted this crowd for some time, offering a credit to BYOD switchers to offset the device subsidy that they don't have to pay. Even AT&T is in on the trend, offering free activation for those bringing a phone. Even MVNOs want a piece of the BYOD market, touting an offer to make every other month of service free for those who bring their own compatible unlocked phone.

While the other carriers aren't putting out terribly attention-grabbing promotions to attract BYOD customers, Sprint has laid out an offer that could give almost any wireless customer some pause. The offer is not being sold in stores or over the phone, and is only being promoted in a very low-budget fashion online. Despite the unique and somewhat underwhelming promotional efforts, the tactic has seen moderate success thus far. According to research firm Wave7, Sprint's marketing video for the promotion featuring spokesman Paul Marcarelli managed to rack up around 168,000 views, while another video featuring  prominent YouTuber Inanna Sarkis got over 500,000 in its first day.

Consumers these days are less prone to upgrade simply because a new phone wouldn't fit their needs any better than their current one, in most cases. Many flagships from a couple of years ago that customers may have paid off and gotten unlocked by now, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 and LG G2, are still perfectly viable devices for today's mobile landscape in most use cases. On a similar note, buying secondhand devices unlocked and buying devices that come unlocked from the factory are both becoming more and more popular options, especially as unlocked phones get cheaper and more able to compete with current flagships over time. The OnePlus 5 is a great example of powerful hardware that comes unlocked and can compete with current flagships for substantially lower cost, while Amazon's method of selling unlocked devices at a discount in exchange for advertising on the lockscreen is an example of the trend becoming more accessible.

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