If you are considering to utilize augmented reality in your business by any means, you have probably wondered, how big is the potential target audience? There are several estimations and projections about the AR market size. But how many AR enabled phones are out there actually? We have dug up some numbers for you.

First of all, basically any smartphone today is capable delivering simple marker based augmented reality experience. The system requirements for such task are iOS 8.0+ or Android 4.0.3+. Even the laggard in updates Android were running fresher OS version on 99.8% of the devices (source) in mid-2020. This means about 3.5 billion active devices (source).

For AR experiences tracking the environment higher performance is required. These are what we will consider AR enabled phones from now on. Few years ago this level of computing and graphical capacity was the exclusive feature of flagship devices. Today however, most of the mid-range smartphones available on the market are supporting advanced AR features. But what does it mean regarding the ones already in the pockets of the users?

Android
Android smartphones
Image by Lisa Fotios on Pexels

The list of ARCore supported devices can be found here. As of today, there are 500 million+ downloads of the Google Play Services for AR (previously ARCore) in Play Store. This indicates the number of devices those are ARCore compatible and the user tried out some AR experience at least once, meaning there are most probably even more ARCore supported Android devices.

iOS

On the iOS side we need to get a bit creative as the AR features don’t require downloading a separate app. iPhone SE and newer iPhones are AR supported. It varies by location and years how frequently people are upgrading their smartphones, but as a thumb rule it can be concluded about 75% of the people are buying new gear in at least 3 years (source). Apple started to sell iPhone SE in 2016, so it is safe to say that any iPhone sold since 2017 is supporting ARCore (and ARKit). Since then Apple accounts for about 13% of the smartphone sales per year (source 2017source 2018source 2019). Assuming that the ratio of the active devices is about the same, we can conclude that there are about 3.5 billion * 0.13 ~= 455 million AR capable iPhones out there.

So, how many?

To stay on the safe side of the estimation, let’s say there are 500 million Android devices and 455 million iPhones out there, summing up to 955 million. This means at least 27% of the smartphones is supporting advanced AR functions. Almost one billion user devices already AR enabled. And this is not a projection, these are the figures now.

Okay, so this gives us the minimum amount of AR enabled phones, but what could be the maximum? According to another report not only 13% but 22.3% of the active devices were iPhones as of September of 2019. Also, Google Play Store figure “500 million+” only tells us ARCore required applications were downloaded on between 500 million and 1 billion devices, so it can be way more than taken into account in the previous conservative estimation. 22.3% would mean more than 780 million iPhones and there can be up to 1 billion Android smartphones as well, which would sum up to 51% of the active devices.

Obviously this is another extremity, the previous paragraph is all speculation. The deviation in the iPhone ratio may account for longer usage, also meaning older, not AR supported devices. It is also extremely generous to assume 500 million+ would actually be 1 billion, but it is somewhere between. It may also happen that some users download ARCore to learn their devices are not supporting this feature. Moreover, it is pretty sure that there are some devices ARCore installed on got broken or discarded. Contrarily, it is fair to assume not all of the users installed ARCore on their supported Android smartphones. What we can conclude is pretty sure that the maximum penetration of ARCore supported phones is lower than 51%.

AR Compatiblity of Smartphones [billions]

The truth is probably somewhere between one fourth and one third of the smartphones in the users pockets today are capable of delivering advanced augmented reality experience. And we didn’t take into account the tablets. Quite fair penetration level reached under the radar, isn’t it? Also, AR features are invading lower and lower end devices as well. It is pretty sure we will see the mobile AR penetration further improve in the next few years.

Naturally, the higher performance a smartphone has, the higher quality of AR experience it can deliver. Check out our blog section for device tests to get more insight on that.

Do you think this audience is large enough? Would it worth to offer them some augmented reality experience related to your business? If yes, do not hesitate to contact us and realize it!