How Many People Own Smartphones? 80+ Smartphone Stats

by Josh Howarth - November 19, 2021

Smartphones have become nearly ubiquitous in developed nations across the world. In fact, nearly three quarters of the top 10 developed countries’ populations own a smartphone.

Globally, almost 90% of cellular phones are smartphones. And the majority of the world’s population currently owns one.

There are currently over 6 billion smartphones worldwide — a number that’s projected to increase in the coming years.

In fact, worldwide smartphone sales grew a considerable 10.8% in Q2 2021 alone.

For further information on the state of the smartphone market from a user perspective, read on.

Here’s a summary of what you’ll find below:

Smartphone Ownership Statistics (Top Picks)

  • There are approximately 6.38 billion smartphones in the world.
  • Worldwide smartphone users have increased year-over-year by at least 5% over the last five years.
  • There are upwards of 10.47 billion IoT connections worldwide
  • China has the most smartphone users in the world
  • The US has the most smartphone usage per capita
  • College graduates are most likely to own a smartphone
  • Android is the leading mobile operating system worldwide

How Many Smartphones Are There?

Worldwide, there are approximately 6.38 billion smartphones. To put that into perspective, that figure accounts for over 80% of the 7.9 billion global population.

number-of-smartphones-min.png

However, it should be made clear that this does not mean that 80% of people across the globe own a smartphone. In fact, just one country (the US) has a smartphone penetration rate above 80%.

This is because many people own more than one smartphone. And certain businesses own thousands of phones. To highlight this fact, it is estimated that approximately 10 billion mobile-connected devices are currently in use.

Sources: Statista, Newzoo, OuterBoxDesign

Smartphone Ownership Demographics

The top 20 countries by smartphone users each have upwards of 35 million active smartphone users.

China has the most smartphone users worldwide - over 2x more than any other country.

Of the countries listed, the US has the largest proportion of its population actively using smartphones (81.6%).

The bottom four listed nations by the proportion of population actively using smartphones are Asian (Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan).

active-smartphone-users-min.png

Here is a full breakdown of New Zoo’s 2020 active smartphone users by country:

Rank Country Smartphone Users Total Population Smartphone Penetration
1 China 918.45 million 1.44 billion 63.8%
2 India 439.42 million 1.38 billion 31.8%
3 United States 270 million 331 million 81.6%
4 Indonesia 160.23 million 273.52 million 58.6%
5 Brazil 109.34 million 212.56 million 51.4%
6 Russia 99.93 million 145.93 million 68.5%
7 Japan 80 million 126.48 million 63.2%
8 Mexico 70.14 million 128.93 million 54.4%
9 Germany 65.24 million 83.78 million 77.9%
10 Vietnam 61.37 million 97.34 million 63.1%
11 United Kingdom 53.58 million 67.89 million 78.9%
12 Bangladesh 53.3 million 164.69 million 32.4%
13 Iran 52.81 million 83.99 million 62.9%
14 Turkey 52.06 million 84.34 million 61.7%
15 France 50.66 million 65.27 million 77.6%
16 Italy 45.92 million 60.46 million 75.9%
17 Philippines 41.31 million 109.58 million 37.7%
18 Pakistan 40.59 million 220.89 million 18.4%
19 South Korea 39.2 million 51.27 million 76.5%
20 Thailand 37.88 million 69.8 million 54.3%

Despite these staggering figures, many people do not (and cannot) have access to a smartphone. This is because approximately 1.1 billion people (roughly one in eight people) do not have access to electricity.

US Smartphone User Breakdown

Taking a closer look at US statistics, 95% of the population have some form of a cell phone.

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According to PewResearch data, the average smartphone user in the US:

  • Is male

In total, 80% of males own a smartphone compared to 75% of females in the US. There is a 3% difference in favor of females when it comes to owning a non-smartphone cell phone.

  • Is 18 to 29 years old

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the youngest adult age group features the highest proportion of smartphone users (94%).

The next highest proportion of smartphone users are 30 to 49-year-olds (89%), followed by 50 to 64-year olds (73%), and rounded off by the 65+ age group (46%).

  • Lives in an urban area

Again, there’s no surprise in the fact that a larger proportion of US citizens living in urban areas use smartphones (83%) compared to suburban residents (78%) and rural citizens (65%).

  • Is white/hispanic

Data shows that ethnicity made very little difference in terms of smartphone users. Around three quarters of white (77%), hispanic (77%), and black (75%) populations own a smartphone.

While 98% of black US citizens own some form of cell phone compared to 97% of the hispanic population and 94% of the white population.

  • Graduated college

Meanwhile, the level of education showed a positive correlation to smartphone ownership. And a negative correlation to non-smartphone ownership.

Here are the details:

Education Level Cell Phone Ownership Smartphone Only Ownership Non-Smartphone Only Ownership
Less than high-school 90% 57% 33%
High-school graduate 92% 69% 24%
Some College 96% 80% 16%
College graduate 97% 91% 6%
  • Earned upwards of $75,000

Lastly, there was also a positive correlation between smartphone ownership and annual salary.

Two thirds of people earning under $30,000 a year (67%) own a smartphone. There was a small increase between the number of US citizens earning $30,000-$49,999 with a smartphone (82%) and US citizens earning $50,000-$74,999 (83%).

Americans earning over $75,000 a year are most likely to own a smartphone (93%)

Sources: Newzoo, Quartz, PewResearch

Smartphone Ownership Over Time

In the space of half a decade, smartphone users worldwide have increased significantly.

Back in 2016, there were approximately 3.67 billion smartphone users. Since then, this figure has increased year-over-year by at least 300 million.

From 2016-2021, the number of smartphone owners has increased by 73.88%.

smartphone-owners-over-time-min.png

The following table shows smartphone usage growth since 2016:

Year Smartphone Users Growth Over Previous Year Percentage Growth Over Previous Year
2016 3.668 billion - -
2017 4.435 billion + 767 million + 20.91%
2018 5.095 billion + 660 million + 14.88%
2019 5.643 billion + 548 million + 10.76%
2020 6.055 billion + 412 million + 7.30%
2021 6.378 billion + 323 million + 5.33%

Sources: Statista

Smartphone ownership is expected to continue to grow over the next 3-4 years.

It is predicted that the number of smartphones worldwide will exceed 7 billion in the next two years. And the proportion of smart phones to cell phones will only become larger.

By 2025, it is predicted that 72% of internet users will exclusively use mobile devices to access the internet.

Here is a look at the forecasted data for smartphones worldwide between 2021 and 2025.

Year Number of Smartphones Number of Cell Phones Proportion of Smartphones
2021 6.37 billion 7.10 billion 89.79%
2022 6.64 billion* 7.26 billion* 91.46%
2023 6.92 billion* 7.33 billion* 94.40%
2024 7.13 billion* 7.41 billion* 96.22%
2025 7.33 billion* 7.49 billion* 97.86%

*estimated

Source: Statista

Smartphone Market Share

The smartphone market split has diversified over the last decade.

In 2012, Samsung claimed almost one third of the smartphone market - the largest single share that year. Besides Apple, (who claimed an 18.7% market share) no other brand claimed more than 4% of the market.

By 2020, five different brands claimed a market share of at least 8%.

Here’s a breakdown of the smartphone market split for select brands since 2012:

Year Samsung Apple Huawei Xiaomi OPPO vivo Lenovo
2012 30.3% 18.7% 4% - - - 3.3%
2013 31.3% 15.3% 4.9% - - - 4.5%
2014 24.4% 14.8% 5.7% 4.4% - - 4.6%
2015 22.3% 16.1% 7.4% 4.9% 3% 2.6% 5.2%
2016 21.1% 14.6% 9.5% 3.6% 6.8% 5.3% -
2017 21.7% 14.7% 10.5% 6.3% 7.6% - -
2018 20.8% 14.9% 14.7% 8.7% 8.1% - -
2019 21.6% 13.9% 17.6% 9.2% 8.3% - -
2020 20.6% 15.9% 14.6% 11.4% - 8.6% -

The two major mobile operating systems (OS) used in smartphones are Android and iOS.

As of October 2021:

  • Android has a 71.09% OS market share android-market-share-min.png
  • iOS has a 21.28% OS market share
  • Samsung has a 0.38% OS market share
  • KaiOS has a 0.11% OS market share
  • Nokia Unknown has a 0.02% OS market share
  • Windows has a 0.01% OS market share
  • Series 40 has a 0.01% OS market share

However, in the US market, iOS leads the way with a 57.46% market share. While Android claims a 42.22% market share.

Sources: IDC, StatCounter

Conclusion

That concludes our roundup of smartphone ownership statistics.

Smartphone adoption continues to grow and is increasingly becoming more widespread across the globe.

There is still some way to go in developing countries, but in the most developed nations, smartphones are becoming near-omnipresent.

Written By
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.
548 Market St. Suite 95149
San Francisco, California
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