Nielsen: U.S. Smartphone Shoppers Choosing Android As iPhone 5 Looms

There were few surprises in the latest report from Nielsen on the mobile device market: Android continues to do well in the U.S. at the expense of Research in Motion (NSDQ: RIMM) while Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) continues to stay strong on the back of a single 18-month-old phone. But despite continued economic worries and high unemployment in the U.S., phone buyers are increasingly choosing smartphones over feature phones.

One number was a little higher than expected: over half of those in the U.S. buying a smartphone over the last three months chose an Android phone, and a similar percentage (58 percent) chose a smartphone over a feature phone, according to Nielsen. Given that the iPhone 4 is getting long in the tooth and savvy phone shoppers know that an iPhone 5 is around the corner, it’s not that surprising that Android had a strong quarter, but that’s still an impressive number.

The smartphone market “is out of the early adopter phase and moving into the mainstream,” said Jonathan Carson, general manager of digital for Nielsen, in presenting the new research Monday at GigaOm’s Mobilize conference.

Android phones are capturing a lot of those new users with promotional giveaways and strong pricing discounts. But with Apple expected to launch the new iPhone 5 in time for the holiday season, those number s could change.