Smartphone leasing hasn’t really caught on here in Canada just yet, but it has suddenly become all the rage among America’s major wireless carriers. Rather than subsidizing your phone purchase in exchange for a two-year contract, US carriers have smartphone leasing programs where you pay a monthly fee for the privilege of using the latest hardware. Some might even let you buy the device at the end of the agreement… or you can choose to upgrade to the newer model for no additional charge.

The thing is that all of these smartphone leasing programs are coming from the carriers. If you wanted to get an unlocked smartphone from one of the manufacturers directly, you’d have to pay the full price up front. ZTE doesn’t think it has to be this way. That’s why the Chinese company has now announced that it will let customers lease-to-own their smartphones too.

The smartphone leasing arrangements can run anywhere from six months to 24 months in duration with monthly payment levels to match. I can see how this could useful even for more affordable devices like the ZTE Grand X 2, as it might mean customers can get a new phone for only $10 a month. It could be an even better idea for higher end or mid-range phones like the $450 ZTE Axon (shown above).

Like the programs offered by the carriers, ZTE’s version will also allow for some flexibility. If you fulfill the terms of your agreement, you own the phone outright when you’re done. If you decide partway through that you’d rather upgrade to a new phone, you can do that too; you just have to be up to date on your payments and you have to return the current phone in “good working order” back to ZTE.

ZTE isn’t exactly the first hardware company to do this — Apple is doing it with the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus — but could this mean that Motorola, Samsung, and even Google could jump on this trend soon too?

Via Mobileburn

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