If you’re in the market for a smartphone and you choose a prepaid provider or device you are among one in every three Americans. A new study released by researchers at NPD suggests that prepaid smartphones now account for one-third of the US market.

According to the study those smartphones including premium options and low-end devices offered at steep discounts to bargain shoppers.

According to NPD the number of prepaid smartphone sales increased by 11 percent year-over-year through Q1 2013.

Top Prepaid Smarpthones In US

The overall smartphone market witnessed a 42 percent year-over-year spike which means prepaid smartphones actually witnessed an even bigger jump that we might assume.

As more customers ditch “feature” phones in the developing world they have begun to purchase smartphones. Those prepaid smartphone buyers despite their new devices still typically engaging in calling, texting and the same light internet usage they engaged with via their feature phones.

If NPD’s numbers are correct, and they tend to be fairly accurate, that means prepaid smartphones sales have experienced a 10-point sequential increase from the last quarter of 2012. The study finds that post-paid smartphones now account for 68 percent of the market, down from 79 percent year-over-year.

According to NPD the lack of a new Galaxy smartphone or Apple product has led customers to focus on the value of their dollars and not the technology they are receiving. Those customers instead look at older models that offer lowering pricing such as the Galaxy S2 and iPhone 4S which are two years old but still among the list of the top five purchased prepaid devices.

While LG has struggled to gain a huge following in the post-paid smartphone market the NPD study shows LG ranked second overall for prepaid smartphone sales. LG tends to offer a lot of entry-level Android devices that specifically do well in the prepaid smartphone sector.

Prepaid Smartphone Sales In US Market

Here is the NPD list of the top five prepaid smartphone sellers based on market share:

  • Samsung (32 percent)
  • LG (22 percent)
  • Huawei (11 percent)
  • HTC and Apple (tied at eight percent).

It looks like T-Mobile’s ‘UnCarrier’ concept may have been a very smart move during a potential pivot point for the wireless industry.

Are you surprised by the consumer shift towards prepaid smartphones in place of traditional post-paid smartphones?

[Images via TechnoBuffalo, NPD]