NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - Apr 6, 2016) - The latest sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech for the three months ending in February 2016 shows that, in the US, just 9% of smartphones sold are still in the four-inch size range, showing a dramatic portfolio shift from the same period two years ago at 58%. However, the recently announced Apple iPhone SE is likely to find wide acceptance among owners of older four-inch iPhone models who are ready to upgrade, and are loyal to Apple and the smaller form factor.

"Fifty-eight percent of iPhone users in the US still own an iPhone 5s or older," said Lauren Guenveur, mobile analyst for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. "Those who own the larger phones mention screen size as a primary purchase motivator (54%), while those with older and smaller devices were driven by reliability and durability, rather than screen size."

The average life cycle for four-inch and smaller iPhones is 27.5 months, longer than the overall smartphone market at 20.9 months, suggesting that up until now, owners of older iPhones have been hesitant to upgrade. This may be because they prefer a more compact iPhone, or they are not interested in investing in the new models.

Cost may also play to the iPhone SE's advantage. "In the US, the $399 price point will likely appeal to more cost-conscious first-time smartphone buyers who otherwise would be more inclined to purchase an Android smartphone," Guenveur added.

Forty-nine percent of those owners with a four-inch or smaller iPhone intend to change their device within the next 12 months. Among this group, 84% intend to stay loyal and buy another iPhone. For them, battery life will be most important (68%), not surprising, since as devices age, battery life is diminished, making that issue top-of-mind for owners of older devices. After battery life, phone reliability and durability matter most (63%), followed by camera quality (55%), and finally screen size (54%).

Recent OS Global Market Data

The mobile OS market continued to exhibit some shifts in leadership between Android and Apple iOS across markets. In the three months ending February 2016, Kantar sales data shows that Android increased its share in urban China to 76.4% from 73% in the same period a year ago.

In the US and EU5, Android continued to make year-on-year gains. Europe's big five markets are Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.

Android's share grew steadily in EU5, varying considerably by locale, and underlining the impact that vendors like Huawei and local brands are making in some markets. In Great Britain, where 42% of the smartphone market falls into the premium category, Huawei's premium specs offer very good value, but have not yet attracted Great Britain's consumers away from their premium devices.

"Android showed solid growth in urban China during the three months ending February 2016, due to strong sales during the period around Chinese New Year, which fell on February 8 this year. This is always a busy promotional season, and Android brands were able to take advantage," Guenveur added. "Up-and-coming local brands Meizu and Oppo both showed strong year-on-year growth, each capturing about 6% of smartphone sales."

Some of that growth came at the expense of iOS, which declined 3.2 percentage points between February 2015 and February 2016. Huawei was able to regain the top spot on the smartphone brand leader board, capturing 24.4% of smartphones sold in urban China, just ahead of Apple's 22.2%.

"With the iPhone SE going on sale last week, we will be closely tracking initial acceptance and uptake of the $399 addition to the iOS offering," Guenveur said. "There are significant numbers of potential buyers, particularly in China, who may not be able to afford the high price of a flagship iPhone, but may find that the iPhone SE lets them take their first step into the Apple ecosystem."

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About Kantar Worldpanel
Kantar Worldpanel is the global expert in shoppers' behavior. Through continuous monitoring, advanced analytics, and tailored solutions, Kantar Worldpanel inspires successful decisions by brand owners, retailers, market analysts, and government organizations globally. With over 60 years' experience, a team of 3,500, and services covering 60 countries directly or through partners, Kantar Worldpanel turns purchase behavior into competitive advantage in markets as diverse as FMCG, impulse products, fashion, baby, telecommunications and entertainment, among many others.

Kantar Worldpanel is part of the Kantar Group, one of the world's largest insight, information, and consultancy networks. The Kantar Group is the data investment management division of WPP.

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