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A Full Third of American Adults Own Smartphones, Pew Study Finds

BY Nick Judd | Monday, August 15 2011

Photo: Cheon Fong Liew / Flickr

Here are three reasons why mobile phones could be a crucial battlefield for the 2012 election, courtesy of a Pew Internet & American Life Project study released this morning:

  • Thirty-five percent of American adults own a smartphone;
  • Thirty percent of adults use the Internet or email on a smartphone;
  • Twenty-three precent of adults use their smartphone to go online on a typical day.

The Pew survey shows it's still true that a greater proportion of blacks and Hispanics own smartphones: 44 percent of people in each group own smartphones, according to the Pew survey, conducted between April and May of this year among 2,277 adult Internet users ages 18 and older.

However, that can't necessarily be construed as a means of Internet access for people who might not be able to afford a landline connection: only 22 percent of people with a household income of $30,000 a year or less reported owning a smartphone. Twenty-three percent of folks in that group reported having no mobile phone at all.

Political fundraisers take note: Nearly 60 percent of people polled who made $75,000 per year or more said they did have a smartphone.

Mobile phone users might be becoming increasingly reliant on their phones, the survey results indicate as well. In a press release accompanying the study, senior Pew research specialist Aaron Smith writes that half of cell phone owners used their phone at least once to get information they needed right away, and over a quarter "said they experienced a situation in the previous month in which they had trouble doing something because they did not have their phone at hand."

And the study, available here, also explored the love-hate relationships Americans have with their phones. From the press release:

With advantages comes frustration – 20% of cell owners experienced frustration because their phone was taking too long to download something; 16% had difficulty reading something on their phone because the screen was too small; and 10% had difficulty entering a lot of text on their phone.