Nobody likes paying an ungodly sum of money to obtain a smartphone. Despite the attractiveness of subsidized phone plans, invariably you wind up paying even more money long-term for the same equipment. So is buying off-contract really worth the huge hit up-front? Yes.
Unfortunately, most can't afford to shell out for a top-tier handset at a moment's notice. It's no surprise, then, that budget carrier-unlocked phones have seen a renaissance.