Smartphones Elbow Their Way Into Majority

For the first time since the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project began tracking adoption of the device, most Americans now own a smartphone.


Android smartphone owners still outstrip iPhone owners, but the gap is narrowing slightly (3 percentage points, compared with 5 percentage points two years ago). And BlackBerry continues sliding down the defunct-device chute, with ownership plummeting to 4%, from 10% in 2011.

More than half (55%) of 2,252 adults surveyed by phone termed their cell phone a smartphone and most (58%) also said their phone operates on a smartphone platform common to the U.S. market. More than a third (35%) have some other kind of cell phone and 9% of Americans surveyed do not own a cell phone.

Ownership remains expectedly high among younger adults, especially those in their twenties and thirties – though a majority of Americans in their mid-forties through mid-fifties now own smartphones as well as those with higher levels of household income and education.

Every major demographic group experienced significant year-to-year growth in smartphone ownership between 2012 and 2013, although seniors (age 65 and older) continue to exhibit relatively low adoption levels. Almost a fifth (some 18%) of Americans age 65 and older now own a smartphone, compared with 13% a year ago.

Adoption still varies significantly by household income but that variation is unevenly distributed across different ages. Younger adults, regardless of income, are very likely to be smartphone owners. For older adults smartphone ownership is more of an “elite” phenomenon.

Smartphones tend to be quite prevalent at the upper end of the income distribution but much less common among those with lower income. Android owners now represent 28% of all cell owners, up from 15% two years ago. iPhone owners now represent a quarter of the cell owner population, up from 10% two years ago.

Android and iPhone owners are equally common within the cell owner population as a whole, although this ratio differs across various demographic groups:

Cell owners from a wide range of educational and household income groupings have similar Android adoption levels, but almost half (49%) of cell owners with a household income of $150,000 or more say their phone is an iPhone.

African-American cell owners are more likely than whites or Latinos to have an Android device as opposed to an iPhone.