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Smartphone trends that shaped 2013

Smartphone trends that shaped 2013

1/13/2014

The momentum behind the mobile craze has been gathering for quite some time now - but in 2013, the trend seemed to stake its claim in U.S. consumer culture more definitively, making it hard to deny that smartphones and tablets are here to stay. 

The defining mobile statistic of this year came from Nielsen: 64.7 percent of American wireless customers now own smartphones, a comfortable majority. Among the younger age groups, that figure is even higher, with 79 percent of consumers between the ages 18 and 24 opting for smartphones, as well as 70 percent of teenagers.

With nearly all of 2013 now fading in the rearview and 2014 practically arrived, it's time to take a more granular look at the mobile trends of the waning year - and to ask what the next might hold.

Google Trends names 2013's top smartphones
The major device-related news this year came from Apple: Sales for its new iPhone 5S and 5C broke first-weekend records, and the iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 have been the most widely talked-about tablets in some years.

But Android remains the world's most popular operating system, so Apple can't claim all of the spotlight. Google recently released its Google Trends lists for this year, naming the top 10 most commonly searched items in a variety of categories. While there's a Trends list for practically everything, one of the most instructive is the smartphone roundup.

Yes, the iPhone 5S unsurprisingly claimed the top spot, and the 5C came in at No. 3. But all except one of the other phones in the list is an Android device. The Samsung Galaxy S4 ranked second, while the HTC One and Google Nexus 5 came in at fourth and fifth, respectively. The sixth spot belonged to the BlackBerry 10, while the remainder of the list consisted of the Galaxy S3, Motorola's Moto X, the LG G2 and the Nokia Lumia 1020, in that order.

The Android vs. iPhone debate continues
One of the topics the Google Trends list brings up is the age-old tension between advocates of the Android operating system and Apple's iOS. The limitations and strengths of both options come into sharp relief in light of the report. 

Apple's primary drawback, of course, is the limited number of devices that fans of the company's mobile OS have to choose from. Sure, the iPhone 5S was the most commonly searched-for smartphone of the year, but seven out of 10 of the devices run Android. That means that advocates of the Google operating system have many more options, but they also have to be smarter about what they buy. iPhone and iPad enthusiasts know what to expect when they buy a new handset or tablet, but it's harder to be confident about the quality and consistency of an Android device's performance.

The year of the tablet
While smartphones have been the battlefield for customer loyalty, that may soon be changing. Tablets are rapidly gaining in popularity as they replace laptop computers for many users. Research from Business Insider found that tablet adoption rates tripled between 2011 and 2013, jumping from 2 percent to 6 percent, an even faster rate of growth than their smartphone cousins.

Looking ahead to 2014
What might the smartphone of the future look like? Samsung has already announced that it has a bendable device under production, and according to Forbes, LG is ready to roll out its own version of the technology. Meanwhile, TechnoBuffalo predicted that wireless charging and nanocoatings would become more prevalent.

Whether mobile phone insurance will see the same kind of innovation and progress is up for debate. But if it doesn't, ProtectCELL's smartphone and tablet protection plans will be there to keep your cutting-edge device safe from harm.

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