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The world’s median mobile phone

Android Smartphone 3GWe can easily overlook or misinterpret some of the headline figures quoted for mobile phone subscriptions, device types and usage. Here are some of the latest statistics and insights into the proportion of mobile phones and subscriptions worldwide. This includes the specification of the median mobile phone worldwide.

Half of the world’s mobile phones are now smartphones

While you may have been using a smartphone for a decade (the iPhone launched in 2007, has sold over 1 Billion units and has 44% US market share), the rest of the world is still catching up. We’ve now reached the point where half of the world’s mobile phones in use today are smartphones.

World Mobile Stats at End of 2016
Humans alive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.4 Billion
Mobile accounts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.8 Billion
Mobile accounts used by humans . . . . 7.2 Billion
Handsets in use . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.8 Billion
Unique humans with mobile . . . . . . . . . 5.0 Billion
Smartphones in use . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.95 Billion
Dumbphones in use . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.85 Billion
Source: TomiAhonen Phone Book 2016, December 2016

The larger number of mobile accounts (7.8B) compared to handsets (5.8B) is due to:

  • -       600 million machine-to-machine applications (vending machines, CCTV cameras, Satnav etc.)
  • -       Multiple SIM cards per device
  • -       Tablets and other non-handset devices

The digital divide between industrialised and emerging nations

Drilling further into the detail, you can see that the industrialised world have more than one smartphone per person. And there will always be demand for basic phones – not everybody is literate, they are less likely to be stolen, battery life can be better.

Digital Divide at End of 2016
Item . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Industrialized World. . . Emerging World
Humans alive . . . . . . . . . 1.2 Billion . . . . . . . . . . 6.2 Billion
Mobile accounts . . . . . . . 2.1 Billion . . . . . . . . . . 5.1 Billion
Unique mobile users  . . . 1.1 Billion . . . . . . . . . . 3.9 Billion
Handsets in use . . . . . . . 1.6 Billion . . . . . . . . . . 4.2 Billion
Smartphones in use . . . . 1.4 Billion . . . . . . . . . . 1.6 Billion
Dumbphones in use . . . . 0.2 Billion . . . . . . . . . . 2.6 Billion
Source: TomiAhonen Phone Book 2016, December 2016

The Median Mobile Phone Handset In Use on the Planet December 2016

If you ranked all 5.8 Billion handsets in the world by capability, the median (ie the one ranking 2.9 Billion) would have the following features.

 Median Phone 2016

Generation Mix

Analyst Ovum reports worldwide 3 Billion subscriptions on GSM, 2.3 Billion on 3G and 1.7 Billion on LTE. The rapid growth of LTE and decline of GSM will result in a mostly 3G/4G share within five years. 3G isn’t about to disappear anytime soon, but 4G is becoming dominant in the industrialised world.

China in particular has seen rapid 4G growth, with over 500 million served by China Mobile alone. Not bad since launch 2.5 years ago. Unlike the 44% iPhone share in the US, inChina it’s only 8.2%

Conclusion

It’s easy to believe that the world is already fully 4G smartphone equipped or that everyone uses an iPhone. LTE is rapidly becoming the norm in the developed world, but there are many more people today continuing to use 3G.

The world is only now shifting away from 2G GSM as the primary technology and it will be a few years before 4G dominates the mass market.

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Comments   

#1 Rich Rodgers said: 
Awesome writing! Thanks for sharing.
0 Quote 2017-01-13 05:41
 
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