Skip to content
02_Elements/Icons/ArrowLeft Back to Insight
Insights > Digital & technology

Smartphone Owners Are as Diverse as Their Devices

2 minute read | March 2015

Around the globe, consumers are increasingly mobile, which is changing shopping habits, viewing tendencies and even how we kill time. And in the U.S., smartphones are increasingly the devices consumers—especially multicultural ones—are choosing for their multitude of mobile activities.

In fourth-quarter 2014, 16% of smartphone owners said they had recently acquired their handset within the last three months, bringing overall smartphone penetration up to 77% of mobile phone owners in the U.S. Among recent phone acquirers, 91% chose smartphones as their mobile handset, compared with 82% who chose smartphones in fourth-quarter 2013. Overall smartphone penetration continues to rise rapidly, increasing 8 percentage points from 69% in fourth-quarter 2013.

However, multicultural consumers continue to lead the growth in smartphone penetration, as they’re adopting smartphones at a higher rate than the U.S. average. Asian/Pacific Islanders (86.6%), Black-African Americans (83%), and Hispanics (82.4%) are the top three groups with the highest rates of smartphone ownership, compared with 74.2% of non-Hispanic whites.

For all Americans, the top operating system in fourth-quarter 2014 was Android, with 49.5% of U.S. smartphones running on that system. Apple, meanwhile, remained the top smartphone manufacturer, with 43.6% of mobile subscribers in the U.S. owning an iPhone.

Among Hispanics, Android penetration was the highest in fourth-quarter 2014 at 53.8%, up slightly from 53.7% in fourth-quarter 2013. However, iOS ownership among Hispanics grew 6% to 40.2% in fourth-quarter 2014, up from 39.6% in fourth-quarter 2013. Comparatively, iOS ownership is highest among Asian/Pacific Islanders at 47.6% in fourth-quarter 2014, an increase from 45.8% in fourth-quarter 2013, while Android ownership among this demographic held steady at 46.7% year-over-year.


Data based on Nielsen’s Mobile Insights survey, a monthly survey of 30,000+ mobile subscribers aged 13+ in the U.S. Data is collected primarily online and also via a supplemental Spanish language phone survey seeking to reach Hispanic respondents aged 18+. Mobile owners are asked to identify their primary mobile handset by manufacturer and model, which are weighted to be demographically representative of mobile subscribers in the U.S. Smartphone penetration reflects all models with a high-level operating system (including Apple iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry). 

Continue browsing similar insights