The US carriers sold more than 1.5 million white-label devices in the third quarter of 2021, says a new report.
According to market research firm Counterpoint, this figure includes AT&T, Cricket and T-Mobile (Revvl brand) devices.
“Over the years, both carriers have maintained a range of white-label devices to fill gaps in their portfolios by offering affordable device options,” the firm said in a statement.
“Lately, the focus has shifted towards the sub-$300 5G device segment, especially in prepaid channels,” it added.
White label products are sold by retailers with their branding and logo but the products themselves are manufactured by a third party.
In 2021 so far, US carriers have launched white-label 5G devices such as the REVVL 5G, REVVL V+ and Cricket’s Dream 5G/AT&T Radiant Max 5G, bringing down the 5G device cost to sub-$200.
In September 2021, Dish’s Boost Mobile announced the Celero5G-branded smartphone. The device launched for $279 will include unlimited talk time, text and data (speed throttled after 35GB) for 12 months.
Dish claims that the device fills a void in the market by providing an affordable 5G option to the customers. This is parallel to AT&T and T-Mobile’s strategy to bring more subscribers to the 5G network.
The industry continues to ponder whether Chinese OEMs will be able to enter US carrier channels.
“So far, none of the major Chinese OEMs have been able to range among US carrier channels apart from OnePlus,” the report said.
“However, the white-label device opportunity brings OEM, ODM and EMS firms to a level-playing field and opens a backdoor channel for entry to the US market,” it added.
This has enabled many ODM/EMS firms such as FIH (Fushan), Wingtech, Tinno and Vinsmart to work with US carriers. Many Indian OEMs are also aggressively looking to cater to the rising demand.
Apart from the carrier-branded white-label devices, some local US brands are also moving their production outside China.
Recently, India-based EMS firm Dixon Technologies announced a partnership with Orbic to manufacture 5G smartphones in India. Orbic devices are sold in Verizon and TracFone channels in the US.