Nearly every major US mobile carrier, with the exception of AT&T, have finally wizened up and dropped the antiquated two-year contract. And with the move toward more unlocked devices on the market, the fog is clearing and the future of mobile devices is starting to gain a bit more clarity.
The whole debacle of carrier contracts has been the dirty little secret surrounding the industry for a very long time. Consumers were getting gouged by data pricing and, even more so, the cost of devices. The exorbitant markup of smartphones was getting out of hand. When a $200.00 dollar device would run the consumer $700.00 to $900.00, the consumers were being fleeced. And no matter how the carriers spun the deal, consumers always wound up paying the price.
Take, for instance, the current AT&T model, where you make monthly payments for your device over either a 12 or 18 month period. Those payments, regardless of time frame, cost you the full, over-inflated price of the phone. In fact, in most cases, you wind up paying more than the full retail price of the device (thanks to additional fees and costs).
That all changes now... at least for every major carrier but AT&T. The majority of carriers have dropped the idea of the two-year contracts, and all those manufacturers out there creating unlocked Android devices are going to pave the way for the new world order within mobility.
Pick your carrier with the price and plan you like, purchase an unlocked device of your choice (such as the OnePlus 2), and enjoy mobility as it should be. If you find a carrier with a bigger, better deal, take your unlocked phone with you and join their parade.
A few years ago, this would have been unheard of. Not only did carriers lock consumers into unmovable contracts, they didn't support unlocked SIMs. Now, SIMs are no longer under lock and key. In conjunction with the rise of unlocked phones, the mobile landscape has opened up before us and guess who wins?
That's right... we now live in a consumer-driven mobile world, where carriers no longer have the power. AT&T will soon realize this, as contracts end and aren't renewed. Either that or AT&T will see the writing on the wall and finally let go of their Draconian contracts. Honestly, if they stand pat, they'll lose out in very big fashion.
What's best about this (besides a sense of freedom that we haven't enjoyed since the mobile world exploded) is those unlocked, non-contract devices are now superior to a lot of devices offered by the carriers. The OnePlus 2 is a shining example of what's going right in the mobile industry (especially on the Android side). Starting at $329.00 (USD) for the base 32 GB model, there's no way carriers can beat that cost with the likes of Apple, Samsung, and HTC. For a carrier-specific (and often times inferior) device, you'll be paying at least twice the cost of the OnePlus 2.
Even Motorola joined in on this game with the release of their Moto G, which is a mid-range phone (with enough power to satisfy the majority of average mobile users) for only $179.99. That's the final price for the device. You're not paying surcharges, monthly fees, or any other add-on cost. You drop the coin for the phone, take it to your carrier, get your SIM, and enjoy the freedom of the unlocked, off-contract Android device.
But the thing is, in order for this momentum to continue building, people are going to have to actually seize the moment. Purchase that unlocked device and use it with your carrier. Make sure the carriers understand that the consumers finally figured out the game, that they know how to play it and won't be fooled again. The more consumers gobble up the unlocked devices, the more such devices will find their way to market.
So, get your OnePlus 2 (when it's released), your Moto G, your Nexus 6, or any of the growing number of devices, attach them to a carrier offering contract-free service, and enjoy your new-found freedom.
Have you opted for an unlocked device on a non-contract carrier? If not, what's stopping you? Let us know in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.