The Under 44 Crowd Prefers Smartphones, But Everyone Wants An iPhone [Survey]


Photo: drewbeck/flickr
Photo: drewbeck/flickr

According to a recent survey, if you own a smartphone in the U.S., you’re likely younger than 35 years old. By contrast, if you are older than 45, a basic feature phone is likely your preferred handset. Welcome to the Smartphone Generation Gap.

According to Nielsen researchers, 62 percent of adults age 25-34 who own a mobile phone use smartphones instead of “feature phones” that provide basic voice and texting features. That percentage drops to just over half – 54 percent – when the age range falls to 18-24 or increases to 35-44.

The dividing line is even bolder among middle-aged mobile users. In the 45-54-year-old range, just 40 percent of those surveyed by Nielsen say they own a smartphone.

The numbers likely mimic the split in most American homes, where younger people want the apps that a smartphone offers, while older people just want a telephone they can stick in their pocket and maybe send a few texts during the day. There have been some ham-handed attempts at marketing mobile handsets to older folks — remember the Jitterbug with the giant numberpad?

However, the split between smartphone usage based on age could be overcome by the iPhone, a simple-to-use device that doesn’t overwhelm the user. We may already be seeing the results of the iPhone’s introduction on the older generation. According to Nielsen, the 55-64 age group is the second-fastest group adopting smartphones. Apple is the top maker of smartphones in the U.S., claiming 28 percent of the share of domestic sales.

But this line between smartphone and feature phone could vanish over the next few years. As carriers turn to data plans to replace revenue from shrinking voice calls, smartphones are beginning to crowd out the simpler alternatives. Already 43 percent of all mobile phones sold in the U.S. are smartphones, says the survey.


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