Smartphone vs. feature phone arms race heats up; which did you buy?

Summary:Smartphones such as the iPhone and the BlackBerry might get all the headlines, but most Americans continue to opt for less-expensive feature phones.Feature phones, which are dumb phones that have elements (but not the full connectivity) of smartphones, accounted for an astounding 72 percent of new handset sales in the U.

Smartphones such as the iPhone and the BlackBerry might get all the headlines, but most Americans continue to opt for less-expensive feature phones.

Feature phones, which are dumb phones that have elements (but not the full connectivity) of smartphones, accounted for an astounding 72 percent of new handset sales in the U.S. in the second quarter, according to a new report by NPD.

Make no mistake, the tides are changing, and more Americans than ever are ponying up the dough for a real-deal smartphone (sales are up 47 percent year-over-year, to 28 percent market share). And feature phones sales slipped slightly, 5 percent.

But when it comes to which phone rules the roost, it all depends on the features.

In Q2 2009:

  • The LG enV2 and Samsung Rant led feature phone sales
  • The Apple iPhone 3G and RIM Blackberry Curve led smartphone sales
  • Wi-Fi capability is now on 20 percent of all new handsets, a 300% increase
  • Touchscreens were on 26 percent of all new handsets sold
  • QWERTY keyboards were on 35 percent of all new handsets sold

The success of the feature phone rests on the ability for it to match the smartphone feature-for-feature, without attaching a pricey data plan to the device. (Hank Williams writes on his blog that it all depends on the operating system.)

When it comes to mobile devices, which did you opt for?

[poll id=24]

Topics: Enterprise Software, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones, Telcos

About

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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