Junior flagship smartphones to balance rising handset prices and encourage quicker replacement cycles

Cell phone carriers in the US are looking for ways to attract more subscribers, increase phone sales and boost phone upgrade rates. But with costly smartphones and reduced innovation between device generations, phone replacement cycles continue to lengthen. Junior flagships, a new category of smartphones, can offset rising smartphone prices and increase upgrade rates, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Junior flagship models are fundamentally equivalent to pricier flagships, minus a few of the luxuries. For example, Google’s Pixel 3a series retain the main features of the Pixel brand such as the impressive camera with Night Sight, Call Screen and Google Assistant, but omit Pixel Visual Core, wireless charging and an extra front camera.

Anisha Bhatia, Senior Technology Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “In a market focused on premium, expensive phones, carriers are using junior flagships, which retail between $300 and $500, to normalize rising smartphone phones prices without affecting quality of features and drive an uptick in phone upgrade rates.”

GlobalData found that the mid-tier smartphone range ($300 to $600) accounted for just 10% of total postpaid phones in Q2 2019. The mid-tier range lacks phone choices, opening a gap for newer and established vendors to come in with these junior flagship value smartphones and bypass the Apple-Samsung stronghold in the premium tier.

Bhatia concludes: “The junior flagship smartphones, with their affordable pricing and key flagship features, also play well into the prepaid market and its price-sensitive customers. Therefore, the US market will see more junior flagships from known brands such as Samsung and LG in the coming year, as well as carrier promotional dollars focused on them, as carriers use this category to appeal to families and entice customers to relinquish their older smartphones faster.”

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