Smartphones commandeer 70 percent of teen market

A new Nielsen survey shows that feature phones are a dying breed as nearly 65 percent of all US users snap up smartphones, especially within the teen and young adult age groups.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

It's no secret that feature phones are rapidly going the way of the pager as smartphones continue to dominate the mobile market.

It's now to a point that smartphone saturation among teens and young adults in the US is nearly complete. According to a new study released by Nielsen on Tuesday, 70 percent of teens aged 13 to 17 now use smartphones, and 79 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 own a smartphone. In 2012, 58 percent of American teens owned a smartphone, and in 2011 only 36 percent did.

For the third quarter, 11 percent of US cell phone users upgraded their devices and nearly four-fifths of these upgrades were to smartphones. With this increase, smartphone penetration is now at 64.7 percent for all US users, up from 62 percent in the second quarter.

What types of smartphones are these people choosing? Overwhelmingly, it's Apple and Samsung devices. Apple's iPhones grabbed 41 percent of the market share and Samsung captured 26 percent. HTC and Motorola both have 8 percent, followed by LG with 7 percent. BlackBerry's 3 percent market share continued to decline, according to Nielsen.

While Apple leads in devices, Android still rules for operating systems. In the US, 52 percent of smartphone owners use Android, while 41 percent use iOS. Taking up the rear is BlackBerry and Windows with 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

Nielsen notes that while smartphone usage is booming in the US, it could be tapering off as the only people left using feature phones are die-hard users.

"As the smartphone market matures in the US, adoption is reaching the late majority phase, and consumers in this group may be more reluctant to replace their feature phones," Nielsen wrote in a blog post. "Device brands may want to shift their marketing muscle to appeal to this new audience, while working to not alienate their existing bases of smartphone owners."