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Argentina's Mobile Users Upgrade to Smartphones

Smartphones are the shining star in Argentina's mobile market as mobile device uptake slows

August 6, 2015

Due to its smaller population, Argentina has a smaller mobile market in absolute terms than either Brazil or Mexico. However, the mobile phone penetration rate in Argentina exceeds that found in both of those countries, a clear sign of a more advanced mobile market. eMarketer estimates that there will be 30.7 million mobile phone users in Argentina in 2015, representing 70.6% penetration among the overall population. Mobile phone users will number 32.9 million by 2019, when the penetration rate will be 73.0%, reflecting a slowdown in growth found in maturing markets.

Mobile Phone Sales Share in Argentina, by Type, 2010-2014 (% of total)

There are other signs, too, of a slowdown in mobile device uptake in Argentina. In March 2015, Carrier y Asociados reported that the number of mobile phones shipped in the country had fallen from 13 million units in 2013 to 11.4 million units in 2014, a 12% decline.

Smartphones, however, remain a bright spot for the mobile market. The devices will see a higher growth rate over eMarketer’s forecast period, with the number of smartphone users in Argentina increasing from 13.3 million in 2015 to 19.8 million in 2019. Smartphone penetration among mobile phone users will also increase from 43.5% to 60.2% over that time period.

Feature phones constituted a very small share of total mobile phone sales in Argentina in 2014, according to Carrier y Asociados. The firm reported that 84% of mobile phones sold last year were smartphones. Only 7% of the phones sold were feature phones, while 9% were so-called “socialphones,” which run basic versions of social networking and messaging apps but lack the computerlike functions of a smartphone.

Internet Connection Types Used by Smartphone Owners in Select Countries in Latin America, Jan 2015 (% of respondents)

The number of socialphones and feature phones dropped 68% in 2014, while smartphone sales increased by 31%. Carrier y Asociados also reported that 9.6 million smartphones were sold in Argentina in 2014.

Despite signs that smartphone adoption in Argentina is continuing apace, the country remains largely stuck on 3G connections. In January 2015 polling by Internet Media Services (IMS) and comScore, 84% of smartphone owners in the country used 3G internet connections, while only 9% used a 4G network to get online. This was the lowest percentage among respondents in the countries polled.

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