College Advice Blog

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Dec 30, 2013

The Most Popular Cell Phones Among College Students

Ipad And IphoneCell phone use among college students has grown exponentially in recent decades. In this interconnected world, students opt for feature­heavy smartphones. Rather than lugging a laptop all over campus, it's much easier to update Facebook, post a recently taken picture, or check a class schedule via a handheld smartphone. Consequently, smartphones have overtaken "feature" phones as the phone of choice on college campuses.

According to a recent study by Ball State University's Institute for Mobile Media Research, nearly 73% of students reported using a smartphone. In another study by eMarketer, by the time the class of 2016 graduates, roughly 90 percent of college students will own a smart phone. What are students doing with all of this technology?


Communication is a big part of the reason why students have smartphones; the majority of communication is done via texting, as only about three quarters of students make actual phone calls on a daily basis. The second reason young adults use smartphones is to stay active on social media. Students also like the convenience of a smart phone's camera. Not only is it nice to have a camera constantly at the ready, but it also fits nicely into the social media/sharing lifestyle mentioned above. Finally, students use their smartphones as "time fillers" and "boredom killers." Counselor late to a meeting? Waiting for the last bus across campus? No problem, just pull out some Angry Birds or Words With Friends to pass the time.

The College Market

With the explosive growth in mobile phone technology in recent years you might expect a large number of competitors to dot the top­selling lists in the US. However, according to recent research conducted by the NPD Group, it turns out that Apple and Samsung have cornered a vast majority of the US mobile phone market. More specifically, there were 52 million phones shipped by mobile phone manufacturers to US customers in the fourth quarter of 2012. Apple shipped 17.7 million of them, Samsung 16.8 million. LG was responsible for about 4.7 million units and a handful of other manufacturers made up the balance. Percentage wise, this would translate into 65% of the market share for Apple and Samsung combined. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, underlying this trend is a consumer desire for smartphones.

At a more granular level, the top five handsets sold in the US all came from either Apple or Samsung. According to NPD data from the end of last year, the iPhone 5 is the top selling handset in the US. The next four top­sellers are the Samsung Galaxy S III, the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 4, and finally the Samsung Galaxy S II.


Which brands are most popular on campus? Research suggests that over half of all college students still have their smart phone bills paid by their parents. Keeping that in mind, many researchers believe the college market mirrors the US market overall, with Apple and Samsung reigning supreme on campuses everywhere.


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About the Author
Daniel Filmore writes about mobile phones, gadgets, gadget accessories (such as the kensington ipad keyboard case), video games, laptops, tablets and other tech topics.
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