American smartphone buyers prioritize LTE and screen size – what do you want in your phone?

by: Edgar CervantesAugust 13, 2014

sony xperia z1 samsung galaxy note 3 z1 ultra smartphones aa 7

A sound smartphone adviser will tell you there is no “perfect” phone. Personal preferences play the most important role in choosing the right device, but this doesn’t mean we don’t collectively tend to prefer certain features or factors over others.

A new study by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech is shedding some light on what American new smartphone buyers tend to look for. Americans are all about speed, so it’s obvious most users will prefer a device that has 4G LTE compatibility. This does include most devices nowadays, but this doesn’t yet make it less of a factor. We all want that LTE!


Another important variable is screen size. The display is the window into the smartphone experience, so it makes sense that users put this specification in high priority. I prefer larger displays, which offer ease to your typing. Some may want a smaller screen, which usually makes devices easier to hold.

Research and influences

There is a process we all follow when purchasing a new product. You may look for friendly advice or professional reviews, habits this study also happens to dig into. Kantar states iPhone buyers tend to do the least research before buying a phone. This makes sense, considering Apple has its reputation and a huge following that will say wonders about Apple’s gadgets.

This study reveals that about 25% of new smartphone buyers turn to friends for advice, while nearly 25% uses the carrier’s website. The next most popular advice would come from other websites (like us). We would also be wrong if we thought the internet is now taking over the world, as 64% of purchases are made in traditional brick & mortar stores… 24% of smartphone sales are done online.

Samsung-store-vancouver Vancouver Sun

It seems stores are full of Samsung fans. A whopping 64% of users are recommended Samsung devices by in-store representatives, while only 30% are recommended an Apple smartphone. A bit over half of do buy a Galaxy device, while the rest go for an iPhone or another Android device.

Oddly enough, the above-mentioned specs are usually among the first I ask friends about when they seek for my advice. Size preferences, price ranges and design are crucial, so keep that in mind next time you need to help someone out.

  • kicker2222

    For me, specs and stock android are everything.

    • terpski

      Yup, better specs give you a much better “experience”. Phone manufacturers that claim specs don’t matter are just being dishonest and trying to rip you off.

  • Unknown

    The OnePlus One is the ideal phone. Pretty much what it has. 5.5″, 1080p and fills the holes of stock android problems such as the camera software and extra features (Cyanogenmod) while at the same time giving you the stock android experience.

  • AndroidFan

    Good enough specs (no 4k waste of money)
    Good battery
    Good camera
    Good features

    That’s it

  • T.J.

    Stock, smooth, long life.

  • Justin Flynn

    Between 4.5 and 5 inch, stock or extremely close android, not even massive on how good resolution is perhaps a minimum of 720p, as long as specs are competitive, good and no stupid useless frills. Prefer the Motorola approach aaaaand LTE is pretty awesome. BATTERY!!!!! Hense the lower red tolerance.

  • terpski

    6 – 6.5 inches, 5,000 mah battery, 4 K screen, slim to no bezels, 4 gb RAM, 128 GB storage, SD card slot.

    • We’re at least 9-12 months from a phone like this, but mark my words; it is coming.

    • Lisandro O Oocks

      Why only 16 MP? What about speakers?
      This is why we never get the dream phone.

      • MasterMuffin

        16 MP with a huge sensor!

    • Shark Bait

      ooooooo that battey tho!!! when we can get a full 3 days + out of a phone ill buy it

    • Chris

      This guy gets it

    • Ashley

      Maybe 19 inches with 20 000 mah and 16 k screen, u dumb fuck?

  • rebirthofcool

    ux(os optimization vs hw_spec), battery life, display & picture quality, connectivity, storage – in that order

  • Julian Casio Santana King

    4,7 inch screen, 32gb-64gb memory, 3gb ram , Battery life ,camera, and up to date software and pocketable ( moto x). It doesnt need the most current processor as long as it smooth when using it

  • muddy46

    4.7-5.0 screen with high end specs like LG G3…put the LG G3 specs into a footprint the size of the LG L90 or even the LG G3beat (G3s) that would be perfect!!!

  • Cole Raney

    LTE comes on all devices I would buy anyway, so that isn’t a priority.

    Screen size is important (bigger is better) for me.

    Screen resolution is also important. 1080p or Errol preferred.

    2 GB of ram or more is necessary

    The latest high end Snapdragon processor available.

    A decent sized battery. The G3 is impressing me so far, so around G3 level battery.

    Non-metal. Although, a small metal band like on the Z2 isn’t bad.

    Those are my most important parts of a phone.

  • RH

    I was one of those that thought, you have to have a 2k screen, 3gb ram, kk, etc….or you weren’t getting the “full experience”. That’s a bunch of crap!
    I want a good battery, 6″ screen and something that works that you don’t pay an arm & leg (off contract) to purchase, without all the locked down, stripped out, bloat/crapware. People need to start paying more attention to the middle of the road devices. I got a Huawei Ascend Mate2 a few weeks ago because it was only $300 bucks. When you look at the specs or benchmarks, you’d laugh and not even consider it. Actually, I never heard of it until all the waiting for “the flagship killer of 2014” OnePlus, and a couple people bought it because of the price and novelty. I got one because they said it wasn’t bad! It replaced my Note1, so you know where I’m coming from. It’s fast, great screen, 2-3 day battery life (3900mAH battery). People are buying devices with rocketship engines that do nothing better than the middle of the road devices, but eat up your battery, and your wallet.

  • Lee

    Wireless charging, 4.7, no more then 5.5. Processor snapdragon 801 or better

  • TechLover

    First thing is the specs, then the display size (I prefer larger ones) with design and build quality considered (It needs to be held comfortably in one hand and looks good enough)

  • Walg

    5 – 5.5 inches screen, 5000 mAh battery, slim bezels, 4gb RAM, 128gb storage, SD card slot, water and dust proof, LTE, 1020 camera quality.

  • Roberto Gargiulo

    4,7-inch screen, 6000mAh of battery life, QHD display, Qualcom Snapdragon 810 at 2,4GHz, 64GB with SD, LTE-Advanced, 21MP with second camera like HTC One (M8), 10MP frontal camera(even if I don’t use that), 6GB RAM(probably useless), waterproof and metal-built, with on-screen commands,64GB of internal storage, made by HP, Android L stock and removable battery, perfect!

    • gghh

      You forgot OIS, laser auto focus, phase detection auto focus, big sensor,

  • Clinton

    LTE doesn’t matter as we don’t have it here.Hell ,even 3G is scarce.
    Basically what I want in a smartphone is comfortable one handed usage, thats a minimal bezel 4.5 to 4.7 inch device with over 320 ppi and good color reproduction.A camera that doesn’t give grainy images.
    But most importantly ,battery life.I need a phone that comfortably lasts longer than I can, I don’t mean a lifetime, I mean a wake up time of 24 hours.The most I’ve gone is 32 hours without sleep and I don’t do it that often.
    So if a phone last that long without me using it conservatively, that’d be great.
    And of course the usual, speed and multitasking and design that is appealing and comfortable to hold, I don’t care much for metal or plastic, especially after seeing the metal and plastic versions of HTC M8.

    • M3D1T8R

      I once went 68 hours without sleep. No drugs besides caffeine. Fell short of my 3 full day goal by just 4 hours. Yeah, I was pretty stupid when I was 18.

      Curious, if you don’t like metal or plastic, what material do you prefer for a phone? Glass? Carbon fiber? I’m not a big fan of metal either due to scratches, but I like HTC’s soft touch plastic (like my DNA). I think some kind of carbon fiber could be good too.

      • Clinton

        I meant that i didn’t care if my phone was built with either polycarbonate plastic or metal.Both can be done well.Metal is a good material and HTC showed us how you can make a good phone both by using metal and plastic with the M8 and E8 respectively.
        I prefer my phone to look and feel good.So it doesn’t matter if its metal or plastic as long as it feels and looks good to me.Its different for everyone, I simply don’t think that one material is better than the other when it comes to making a phone.They both have their pros ans cons.

  • Shark Bait

    Battery, battery, battery and waterproofing !

  • Shark Bait

    Interesting people aren’t nerdgasaming for GHz any more and interested in more meaningful specs

  • Foramex

    LG G3 design and size with Snapdragon 805, 5,000 mAh battery and 16 Mp with huge sensor, 4GB RAM and Waterproof would make the perfect phone. You can also throw in some Sammy gimmicks.

  • Mattya1989

    Better Audio Quality.

    • M3D1T8R

      Oh god yes. And signal reception. The basics that everyone forgets about. Unfortunately we probably won’t get better call quality until HD voice over LTE becomes a common thing. Audio in general, at least HTC is doing it right. Sony is trying. And I’m hoping Motorola starts to as well.

  • Guest123

    1.8in screen , TFT, 65K colors , 1000mAh battery , GSM only , vga camera , 30days ++ on standby

  • 5-5.5″ display, LTE, 13mp and up camera, quadcore, 2GB Ram.

  • tBs_Battousai

    5.2″ QHD display, LTE, 2 days battery life and a Nexus logo :)

  • pseudo

    4.3 inch 720p screen, Qualcomm snapdragon 410(I don’t need the highest end processor and this would still be future proofing due to 64-bit capabilities) clocked at 1.8ghz, 2gb ram, 64gb internal storage +sd card slot, waterproof, 8 megapixels camera with a large lens , dual flash, standard google android, or maybe even cyanogenmod, 5 megapixel front facing camera. bluetooth 4.1, wi-fi a.c, 11mm thick removable back with as large a battery as possible.

    update: forgot to add that I’d rather have an LCD IPS display than AMOLED

    update 2: woudn’t it be quite cool if instead of a removeable back, you had a sort of cover in the side of the phone that gave access to the battery, perhaps at the bottom. It would work like loading a magazine into a pistol.

  • gabu

    5.0 inch screen ,32-64GB ROM ,3GB RAM , SD CRD SLOT, 8-12 MP camera with flash and OIS, 5MP front cam, LTE, latest android OS, 3000mah battery, qualcomm snapdragon 801 quad core 2.5 GHz, Adreno 420 GPU, corning gorilla glass 3, water resistant ,

  • Happy

    I prefer 2″ monochrome screen with 1G (as in first generation i.e. NMT, AMPS, etc.) speeds.
    What a question? Who doesn’t like bigger screens and faster network connection?!?!? Do we need a special study on this? Apple fans are not to be considered anyway as they defend anything that Apple makes even if it is extremely outdated and/or inconvenient. They were defending the 3.5″ screen, from next month they will defend the 4.7″ screen. This is not preference – this is brand blindness.

  • Matt

    I just want a phone with a close to accurate display, a battery that will last two days (or more), an OS without bloatware, a camera that takes great pictures whether inside or outside, has decent stereo speakers, and fast enough to where I don’t see any lag.

  • f-lip

    what i look for in a smartphone is call quality and above it, screen size without on screen keys. Around 5″-5.5″, if the battery lasts more then a full day of heavy usage it would be great too.

  • TheOracle

    Lenovo k910 vibe z (my current phone) with an sd slot, infrared and 4000mah+ battery. Lte isn’t necessary for me (pentaband wcdma of the K910 is essential only because most carriers outside of cities worldwide don’t have 4g) and I’m quite happy with a 720p screen especially where battery life is concerned.

  • Lilith_Black

    Well, not sure abt US, but I normally buy my phones via walk-in purchase for the promotions which offers a better deal than online purchase

  • Happy

    Now I propose that someone make a summary of this discussion in the comments section and send it to Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, etc. Otherwise we are just wasting our time in small talk.

  • pocketdrummer

    I personally would rather have a screen size of less than 5″ with the same flagship parts inside. Yes, that may reduce battery life a bit, but it also means I can use the phone with one hand. It’s sad I have to choose between ergonomics and performance.