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One-third of all smartphone sales were prepaid in Q1

That's the word from NPD Group, which noted an increase from the same period a year ago when 21 percent of purchased smartphones were prepaid.

The NPD Group

Prepaid smartphone sales are starting to become more popular, according to new data from market researcher NPD Group.

NPD released on Wednesday a study that found 32 percent of all smartphone purchases came from prepaid devices during the first quarter. During the same period in 2012, that figure stood at 21 percent.

Although "postpaid" devices, which are subsidized but can lock customers into a long-term agreement, are still most popular, NPD believes the prepaid jump is due to consumers finding more value in older devices that can still hold up well in today's crowded smartphone space.

"For consumers looking at prepaid phones today, value does not equate with finding phones that are cheap or obsolete," NPD Vice President Stephen Baker said in a statement. "In fact, the Galaxy S2 and the iPhone 4S, two of the top five prepaid smartphone models in 2013, were among the top-selling phones overall just one year earlier."

Still, it was Samsung that led the prepaid market, capturing 32 percent of the market in the first quarter. LG was second with 22 percent market share. Apple landed in a tie for fourth place with 8 percent share.