NPD Group: LTE poised to gain share of 4G smartphone offerings in 2012

According to The NPD Group, the fourth-generation (4G) smartphone market grew from 6 percent in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2010 to 35 percent in Q4 2011. The most popular 4G network technology in smartphones was HSPA+, at 22 percent of smartphone sales. The only 4G network technology offered by AT&T until 2011 and still the only 4G technology offered by T-Mobile, HSPA+ received a tremendous boost in Q4, because it was the only 4G technology supported by the popular iPhone 4S.

One year after Verizon’s launch of the first commercially-deployed LTE network, LTE-enabled handsets accounted for 7 percent of the smartphone market; however, consumers are exhibiting a strong association between LTE and 4G. More than a quarter (26 percent) of consumers who purchased LTE phones were specifically seeking 4G technology in 2011, compared to just 9 percent of all smartphone buyers.

“HSPA+, which has combined high throughput with practical power efficiency, has been a compelling evolutionary 4G upgrade option for carriers upgrading GSM networks,” said Ross Rubin, executive director, Connected Intelligence for The NPD Group, in a statement. “With all major U.S. carriers committing to LTE as their 4G future, it is clearly the cellular network technology that will determine the baseline for the next generation of advanced smartphones.”

The percentage of smartphones supporting WiMax, the LTE alternative launched by Sprint in the summer of 2009, ended the year at 6 percent of the market after hitting a high of 10 percent in the third quarter of 2011. Based on The NPD Group’s monthly Mobile Phone Track service, the top-selling mobile phones for each 4G technology in 2011 were as follows:

• LTE: HTC Thunderbolt
• WiMax: HTC EVO
• HSPA+: Apple iPhone 4S

Source: The NPD Group, Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: And the HTC Thunderbolt will lose its LTE crown a couple of hours after Apple’s next-gen iPhone launches.


  1. The iPad with LTE is an enormous battery with a few tiny chips packed in around it and a screen on one side. Thats all you need to know about the current state of the LTE joke. It’s not ready for phones yet, android phones with LTE are pure garbage.

  2. “The iPad with LTE is an enormous battery with a few tiny chips packed in around it and an enormous screen on one side.”
    There you go; fixed that for ya!
    It may possibly have slipped your notice, but all the iP3 versions have the same size battery, and the majority will not be equipped with LTE; most people will buy wifi only. And LTE is switchable, because most of the world doesn’t have 4G tech.

    1. it’s true that the battery is needed to drive a higher resolution screen but it’s also true that a large batteries going to be needed the dryer of the LTE chips!

  3. Let’s talk data equity… If you are a Verizon customer you now get 4gb of LTE data for $30 if you have a voice account. But iPad users get half that for the same price. No way that I’ve found for data parity.

  4. Marketing strikes again!

    I can’t believe HSPA+ is called 4G technology in the US. It’s not, & it’s pretty far from standards required for 4G. Out here in Singapore, where we’ve had HSPA+ for several (maybe 3?) years, it’s been known/treated as 3.5G. So HSPA+ = 4G is marketing bullish*t.

    Even LTE, which is heavily marketed as 4G throughout much of the world, doesn’t actually come up to 4G standards. It’s really only about 3.9G. Only it’s successor, LTE+, will be true 4G, & that’s still in R&D, some years down the road.

    To call HSPA+ 4G just diminishes & dilutes the impact of the real 4G. And it’s false advertising!

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