Research from polling and data firm YouGov has revealed that 16% of UK mobile phone customers now have a SIM-only deal – the same proportion as use pay as you go.
SIM-only plans are available from all major networks on both 30 day and 12 month terms and are considerable cheaper than a standard contract as networks don’t have to recoup the cost of the bundled handset.
The firm says that demand for SIM-only deals has grown faster than that for PAYG over the past years, with market share leaping from 5% in June 2010 to 16% now.
Over the same period the proportion of people using pay as you go increased by three percentage points.
YouGov’s research shows the rise of SIM-only deals has hit the sale of traditional contracts hardest, with the proportion of phone owners with contracts falling from 80% in 2010 to 67%.
The fall is blamed on people keeping their phones for longer – in June 2010 38% had owned their handset for less than six months compared to just 28% today. In the same period the proportion of phone owners who’ve had their device for more than 18 months has increased from 14% to 23%.
Russell Feldman of YouGov said: “There is a perceived lack of innovation in the market because smartphones aren’t the new kid on the block anymore. In essence people are used to them and may now be on their third iteration of smartphone and so are not seeing as many new “killer” features as they did when they first got them.
“As phone owners hold on to their devices for longer there has been a decline in the number getting contracts and an increase in those getting SIM-only deals.”
However Feldman suggested the the launch of the new iPhone later this year meant the firm’s army of fans “are highly likely to replace their devices with new ones from Apple,” boosting sales for the tech giant.