The world wants cheap but stylish phones. Can Android deliver both?

By Kevin Kelleher
December 17, 2010

KOREA/Cheap and stylish are more likely to be antonyms when describing mobile phones. But the global market will reward a smartphone that can deliver on both fronts, a goal that Android phones seem best suited to reaching.

That is one conclusion to be drawn from a survey from Nielsen on mobile phone usage by 15-24 year olds around the world. The survey had some interesting insights, such as Italy’s position as the market with the highest percentage of young people owning a smartphone (47%). The U.S. was the only major market surveyed where smartphone owners were more likely to be female (55%) than male (45%).

Only one in six smartphones owned by people in the age group surveyed were purchased by parents, so the results can help shed light on what features appeal the most to consumers under 25. For the most part, those features varied by country.

In India, practical features were seen as the most important factors in deciding which phone to buy, with 40% saying price was paramount and 12% choosing battery life. In the U.S, price was also important at 22%, while a QWERTY input was next at 14%.

In China, the biggest potential market for smartphones, only 22% chose price as the biggest factor. Just as many chose the form and shape of the phone, and 10% said style and design. That suggests a promising market for Apple’s iPhone and sleeker Android phones like the Samsung galaxy.

But Android phones, which use a free operating software designed by Google, also have an opportunity to appeal to consumers who want a low-cost phone. The versatility of the Android platform to appeal to cost-conscious and design-conscious consumers alike bode well for Android’s market share abroad.

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