Port Washington, N.Y. - The share of smartphones sold with 4G technology grew to 35 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, up from only 6 percent in the year-ago quarter, an NPD Group consumer survey found.
The 4G technologies include Mobile WiMAX, LTE and HSPA+.
Survey respondents include U.S. consumers ages 18 and older who purchased a mobile phone or smartphone. The statistics exclude corporate/enterprise purchases.
The 4G technology with the most smartphone share was HSPA+ with a 22 percent share in the fourth quarter. That technology got a boost because in the quarter because it was the only 4G technology available in the iPhone 4S, said Ross Rubin, executive director of Connected Intelligence for The NPD Group.
HSPA+ is offered by AT&T and T-Mobile.
One year after Verizon's LTE launch, LTE handsets accounted for 7 percent of the smartphone market, but LTE's share will go higher now that AT&T is rolling out LTE and T-Mobile and Sprint plans to migrate to LTE, the company said.
The percentage of smartphones supporting Sprint's WiMax technology, launched in the summer of 2009, ended the year at 6 percent, down from a high of 10 percent in the third quarter, NPD said.
NPD also determined the best-selling handsets for each 4G technology. They were the HTC Thunderbolt for LTE smartphones, the HTC EVO for WiMax smartphones, and the iPhone 4S for HSPA+ smartphones.