More American Adults Now Own Smartphones Than Other Cell Phones, and Other Stats

Not even a year ago, in May 2011, Pew found that 35% of Americans had smartphones; in February, after conducting the same study again, that number is up to 46%. Thus, almost half of all cell phone-owning American adults now have a smartphone.

What is perhaps more significant is that for the first time, there are more smartphone users (48%) than users of other types of cell phones (41%). The other major finding is that the percentage of adults without any cell phone dipped from 17% in May 2011 to 12% in February 2012.

As expected, the percentage of younger adults with smartphones is still far higher than that of older adults, although the 45-54 and 55-64 age groups saw a big uptick in adoption. The former shot up from 28% to 44%, and the latter climbed to 31% form 22%. Among those 65 and older, however, growth was somewhat stagnant, going form 11% to just 13%.

There’s a little wild card to consider, though: Pew noted that if a surveyed person said that their phone was a smartphone, it counted as owning a smartphone. One can’t help but wonder how many people just answered in the affirmative without having any idea what they were talking about--maybe the same number of people who call any Android-based phone a “Droid”. (You’ve had that conversation before: “Do you have an iPhone?” “No, I have a Droid”.)

Pew did note that such confusion has dwindled, from 14% who were unsure in May down to 8% in the most recent survey.

In any case, the results of the survey seem to indicate that a smartphone is an increasingly indispensable possession for more and more adults, regardless of income level, education, ethnicity, or gender.