Generation of Mobile: The Devices Each Generation Prefers

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According to Statista, the total value of smartphone sales in the US was in the region of $74.7 billion in 2022. While this is an impressive stat, how is this broken down when it comes to the age of the user and the generation of mobile devices?

Moving Through the Generations of Mobile Tech

There have been five different generations of mobile technology to date, starting in the early 80s with the “first generation.” This represented the true revolution as phone usage then began to switch from analog to digital and introduced a new phenomenon to Baby Boomers and Generation X alike.

The pace quickened as the second and third generations of mobile technology appeared, and with the dawn of the new millennium, digital tech was well and truly established.

Today, 5G is the benchmark, and consumers of all ages and generations rely on their devices for everyday interaction. For example, young people can play games with their friends, no matter where they are across the globe, while companies can hold latency-free conference calls with remote employees. People can also play virtual reality and augmented reality videos due to the speed and low latency of 5G.

Looking at Smartphone Use by Generation

What are the most popular smartphones by generation? Unfortunately, specific data is difficult to come by, but a report by Flurry Analytics can provide insight:

  • Millennials and Generation X make up around 90% of the user base for both Apple and Samsung devices
  • Millennials appear to favor Apple devices (at 48%) versus Samsung (25%)
  • Generation X users prefer Samsung (65%) over Apple (39%)
  • Baby Boomers make up a much smaller percentage of smartphone users but seem to split equally between Apple and Samsung

How Do Different Age Generations Interact With Their Smartphones?

It’s no surprise that according to Pew Research Center, cell phones are popular among all generations, especially with adults under 65 years of age.

It’s also interesting to note how the different generations use their smartphones. Here, according to data compiled by Experian as reported by MarketingProfs, there’s very little difference between talking and texting. 

Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials all report that they use their devices for texting and talking 92% of the time. Generation X users tend to use their devices more for mobile browsing than Baby Boomers (90% versus 87%), although both generations favor the camera app 50% of the time. 

Millennials watch videos on their smartphone 46% of the time, but this drops to 32% for Boomers.

Do Different Generations Prefer Different Devices?

Analysts estimate that more than 87% of US consumers own a smartphone, which may rise to 95% when it comes to the 18 to 34-year-old age group. And when it comes to the most popular device, Apple and Samsung continue to be the market leaders and have a market share of nearly 70%.

As for other devices:

  • 69% of Gen Xers own desktop computers and are more likely than Millennials to own this type of tech (57%)
  • When it comes to laptops, Millennials take first prize here, with 70% of that group owning laptops
  • MP3 players are how a whopping 74% of Millennials listen to music on the go, compared to just 56% of Gen Xers

Generations of Mobile Tech Users Seem to Favor Different Levels of Technology

As time has passed, new generations seem to have embraced higher levels of technology far more quickly than their predecessors. For example, Baby Boomers appear to be much happier with e-readers, while Gen X-ers favor tablets. On the other hand, Millennials are far more likely to have their smartphone in hand and to embrace cutting-edge technology every day.

What’s clear across ages is that generations of mobile tech users have their preferences, but we’re all used to some sort of portable devices that make like a little easier.