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NEW YORK -- Consumers continue to upgrade their cell phones to smartphones, according to new Nielsen research.
More than three out of five mobile subscribers in the United States (61 percent) owned a smartphone during the most recent three-month period (March through May) -- up more than 10 percent since smartphones became the mobile majority in early 2012, according to the research firm.
As for the Apple vs. Android debate, Apple still reigns as the top smartphone maker in the U.S., while the majority of smartphone owners use Android OS handsets. Specifically, 53 percent of smartphone owners use the Android OS vs. 40 percent who use iPhones. Compared with the same period a year ago, Apple's share of the U.S. smartphone market grew 7 percentage points, while Android's market share expanded by 2 percent, Nielsen reported.
In March 2012, 50 percent of mobile subscribers used smartphones, marking the first time smartphones represented the majority.
Nielsen's latest research shows that women make up the majority of U.S. smartphone owners, as more than three out of five females use them. Ownership is highest among Millennials aged 25 to 34 at 78 percent, and three out of four mobile users aged 18 to 24 already own a smartphone.
Penetration of smartphones remains lowest among Americans aged 55 and older (42 percent). However, this group is catching up fast, as penetration among this demographic has nearly doubled over the past year, the researcher stated.
Smartphone usage also varies by ethnicity. Asian-Americans have the highest rate of smartphone ownership (75 percent), while penetration among Caucasians has increased the most over the past year to 56 percent, on average, during the last three months, up from 45 percent a year ago.