(Photo : Reuters/Jorge Silva)
The Pew Internet and American Life Project released a study on Wednesday confirming what seemed to be an inevitability in modern American life: more Americans own smartphones than those who don't. Of those surveyed, about 56 percent overall could be classified as smartphone owners, and when the study was broken down into demographics, Hispanics helped lead the trend with 60 percent smartphone ownership, though accounting for the margin of error puts both statistics on par with each other.
This year's Pew survey marks the first time that a majority of respondents could be classified as smartphone owners since the Pew Research Center began tracking the trend. Of the total 2,252 adults surveyed by Pew, 55 percent said that their phone was a smartphone, while 58 percent answered yes to a similar metric, saying that their phone "operates on a smartphone platform," which could include Android, iOS, Blackberry or Windows-based devices. As Pew calculates it, "taken together, 61 percent of cell owners said yes to at least one of these questions and are classified as smartphone owners. Because 91 percent of the adult population now owns some kind of cell phone, that means that 56 percent of all American adults are now smartphone adopters."
The total is up to 56 percent from just over a third two years ago in 2011, and the tables have flipped between smartphone and feature phone ownership. The percentage of people who own only a feature phone is down, from almost half two years ago, to 35 percent, the same percentage who owned smartphones in 2011.
A Majority of Hispanic Adults Own Smartphones
Pew breaks down their total by demographics, including gender, age, and race/ethnicity. First, it may not surprise you to find out that the highest percentages of smartphone ownership are among young people. Of those aged 18 to 24, smartphone ownership was at 79 percent, a statistic only bested by people aged 25 to 34, 81 percent of whom own smartphones. Only 18 percent of seniors, 65 and older, own a smartphone, though that's up from 13 percent just last year.
Broken into race/ethnicity, the study found that 53 percent of Whites owned smartphones, compared to 64 percent of Black, non-Hispanic adults, and 60 percent of Hispanics.
Haves and Have-Nots
Your household income level still matters a lot in whether you own a smartphone or not, and that depends especially on your age, though smartphone ownership has grown all across the socio-economic range. Of people making less than $30,000, smartphone ownership is still high among young people aged 18 to 29, and only climbs higher with higher levels of yearly income; 9 out of 10 young people, making $75,000 or more, have smartphones.
As you get older, income matters a lot more when it comes to adopting a smartphone. Pew says that older adults view smartphone ownership as being "more of an 'elite' phenomenon," while ownership doesn't slip among income levels for younger adults no matter the income level.
iPhone vs Android? Among Hispanics, It's Equal
Pew has also tracked how much various platforms have grown in the last two years, comparing the growth of iPhones to Android, Blackberry, and Windows phones. Overall, Blackberry's market share has slipped, while, unsurprisingly, iPhone and Android have both grown at a similar pace. In May 2013, 25 percent overall said they used the iPhone, while Android's numbers have increased to 28 percent.
Among Hispanics, as with Whites, the total percentage of adults who own either an iPhone or an Android phone is almost dead even, hovering around 26-27 percent. Black, Non-Hispanic adults was Pew's only race/ethnicity that showed a contrast. Only 16 percent of Black, Non-Hispanic adults used the iPhone, compared with 42 percent using Android.
No matter what your age, race, or preferred platform, the news from the Pew Internet and American Life Project is clear: we've arrived in a decidedly always-connected Internet age, and that won't likely change in any way in the future, except to escalate.
Pew conducted the survey between the months of April and May, conducting both landline and cell phone interviews in English and Spanish. Go to their website for more information on their survey techniques and results.