Feature Phones Important for Mobile Web Use in Latin America - eMarketer

Newsletters Sign-Up

Plans & Pricing

Does My Company Subscribe?

Feature Phones Important for Mobile Web Use in Latin America

Nearly 70 million residents use feature phones to go online

December 24, 2014

Smartphone penetration in Latin America is at just 31.9% of mobile phone users this year, according to eMarketer’s latest estimates of mobile phone usage around the world. But nearly half the region’s mobile phone users access the internet via their phones at least monthly—meaning many are doing so with a feature phone, instead.

Mobile Phone Internet Users and Penetration in Latin America, by Country, 2013-2018

In total, we estimate that there are over 194 million mobile phone internet users in Latin America, though the region boasts only 126.1 million smartphone users. That leaves some 68 million residents of Latin America who are using feature phones to go online.

Mobile phone internet penetration is highest in Mexico, where 57.7% of mobile phone users have access. A majority of users in Brazil will also use the internet via mobile phone this year. By 2015, mobile phone internet usage will reach a majority of mobile phone users in Argentina, as well. By the end of our forecast period, nearly three-quarters of mobile phone users in Latin America will log online via their phones—the same year that smartphone penetration among residents with mobile phones will pass the halfway mark.

eMarketer estimates that mobile internet ad spending will reach $677 million in Latin America this year, nearly triple the amount spent in 2013. Mobile internet ad spending in Latin America is expected to grow faster than anywhere else in the world throughout our forecast period.

eMarketer bases all of its forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.

In addition, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.

About eMarketer’s Interactive Guide to Worldwide Ad Spending

eMarketer’s latest worldwide ad spending forecast is accompanied by an interactive tool that provides open access to data on traditional, digital and mobile ad spending in 22 countries. Explore the dynamics of the global advertising landscape and compare and contrast which countries are projected to make the fastest switch to digital, and which are staying the course with traditional outlets.

You can view the visualization tool here: emarketer.com/adspendtool

The definitive research source for marketing in a digital world

eMarketer benchmarks and forecasts are developed employing a research process unlike any other in the industry.

Watch this video that highlights how we put together data and insights.


  • Go beyond the articles:

    eMarketer Products

    You've never experienced research like this.

  • Hear from our clients:

    Customer Stories

    Nearly all Fortune 500 companies rely on us.

  • Want to learn more?

    Contact Us

    Inquire about corporate subscriptions today.