Finally: Americans Now Buy More Smartphones than Feature Phones

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It’s been a surprisingly long time coming, but the majority of cellphone purchases in the U.S. are smartphone purchases. A new Nielsen study shows that smartphones have finally overtaken feature phones for American consumers… and that change may be thanks to Apple.

Nielsen’s May survey of U.S. mobile consumers found that 55% of those who had purchased a cellphone in the preceding three months had gone with a smartphone, the first time that category has led the market since it debuted.

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The gain—up from 34% at the same time last year—comes from significant market share increases in the new purchase area for both Apple iOS and Android products (up 10% and 18% from May 2010, respectively), although that’s where the good news ends for Android; over the last three months, Android’s share of new smartphone purchases has stayed at 27%, while Apple’s has risen from 10% to 17%. Android still leads Apple in overall smartphone market share, however, at 38% to 27%.

Does this survey mean the end of the feature phone? Well… not yet. While smartphones are leading new purchases—and that lead is expected to grow in time—feature phones still account for 62% of all cellphones in the U.S. So if you’re still using a feature phone, don’t worry; you’re amongst friends. Well, until they all wise up and buy an iPhone, apparently.

MORE: Survey: Apple iPhone Tops Sales at 58% of AT&T, Verizon Stores

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