'

Apple's iPhone: Still top in US but Android tightens its grip

Apple's iPhone remains the most widely-used smartphone in the US, where mobile market penetration now nudges 80 percent.

screen-shot-2016-02-05-at-10-34-00.png

Apple's iPhone continues to dominate US smartphone subscriptions.

Image: comScore

Apple's iPhone brand continues to dominate in the US, despite Android strengthening its lead on the platform front.

The iPhone held a 42.9 percent share of US smartphone subscribers in the final quarter of 2015. Its closest rival Samsung ended the year up slightly but remains over 14 percentage points behind, according to comScore's MobilLens data.

Despite Apple's clear and continued dominance on mobile hardware in the US, its share has declined by 0.7 percentage points from the September quarter, while Android vendors Samsung, LG and Motorola have all made slight gains.

Samsung ended the year on 28.4 percent, followed by LG with 9.9 percent, and Motorola with 5.3 percent. HTC remained flat at 3.3 percent.

Given the minor influence of Windows Phone/Windows Mobile and BlackBerry, those hardware numbers were reflected in the platform measurements across the second half of the year.

Google's Android grew by one percentage point to 53.3 percent between the September and December quarters, while Apple saw its share decline 0.7 percentage points to 42.9 percent.

Microsoft was flat at 2.9 percent, while BlackBerry saw its share fall from 1.2 percent in September to 0.9 percent in December.

However, year on year Apple's iOS performed the best on the platform front, growing 1.3 percentage points, while Android grew just 0.2 percentage points, according to comScore data. Over the period, Microsoft dropped half a percentage point, while BlackBerry fell 0.9 percentage points.

Despite US smartphone saturation, subscriptions have continued to grow over the year. According to comScore, there were 197 million smartphone owners in the US, representing 79.3 percent mobile-market penetration. That is up from 182 million people last year when penetration stood at 74.9 percent.

Fellow market research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, which looks at sales rather than total subscribers, estimates that US smartphone penetration hit 65 percent in the last quarter of 2015 and represented 84 percent of all mobile phone sales.

Android's wider price points do offer Google's platform advantages in a saturated market, because it attracts late adopters, noted Kantar Worldpanel ComTech's chief of research, Carolina Milanesi.

However, that trend benefits cheaper brands such as Huawei, LG, ZTE and Alcatel at the expense of Samsung and HTC, she said.

The firm also reported that the iOS share of US sales in the last quarter of 2015 declined 8.6 percentage points to 39.1 percent while Android gained 11.5 percentage points to 59.1 percent.