While smartphones are becoming generally more popular, there is some evidence to suggest that women are preferring white coloured smartphones over black finishes. Most of this evidence is being provided by smartphone companies, which are emphasizing different colour choices for customers. More smartphones are now being released in white, from the iPhone to the Motorola RAZR i, and is creating some debate over which is more popular with different genders. However, is there any truth in this claim?
Smartphone manufacturer HTC are the chief company responsible for the ‘women prefer white smartphones’ argument; this is apparently due to women associating white phones with a higher degree of style and personality, compared to black phones for male professionals wanting something smart and formal. While this claim is difficult to back up, there is market research to suggest that women are buying more smartphones than men in the United States, with figures at 50.9 per cent.
Whether or not white smartphones are an important factor in this decision might relate to the importance of colour in design, and what kind of emotional signals that altering colours sends out. Both white and black are considered to be neutral colours for design work, with black conveying a sense of technological sophistication and professionalism, while white signifies cleanliness, neutrality, and easy matching with other colours. Which might lend credence to the argument that white smartphones are preferred by women wanting to accessorise with white phones, although this is a weak argument at best (and more than a little bit sexist).
Other explanations for the popularity of white smartphones might be found in the establishment of white as a symbol of high quality design by Apple in the 2000s – the company’s iPods particularly distinguished white’s associations with clean, functional tech. Apple are moving back towards white for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 after several years of black designs, and are offering more choices to users. White is also proving to be a popular smartphone colour in particular countries, with the French and the Italians representing the most popular buyers.
The importance of white smartphones to women can be discounted by the clearer splits being discovered in market research into how phones are being used, rather than what they necessarily look like. Research by comScore in 2012 indicated that women use smartphones more often to send photographs to friends and family, and for interacting with others, while men are more likely to find information and scan QR barcodes.In terms of whether colour is going to be an important decision for smartphone users, Nokia have also been promoting the different personalities of their phones – white is held up here as signalling sophistication, while black is described by Nokia as being tougher and more protective. Still, while these claims are again a bit dubious, we might look to how other companies like Apple are mixing up their colour choices – white is typically combined with silver, and black with charcoal slate, with the idea that white is more distracting to anyone watching videos, and more prone to discolouring when not combined with another colour.