Smartphone Owners More Likely to Complain of Various Device Issues

pew-mobile-phone-problems-august-2012.pngSmartphone owners are more likely to report encountering a range of mobile phone problems on at least a weekly basis than other cell phone owners, finds a survey [pdf] from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, released in July 2012. Among those using mobile internet, emails, or applications, 49% of smartphone owners report facing slow download speeds that often, compared to 31% of other cell phone owners.

Smartphone owners are also 45% more likely to report having received spam or unwanted texts (among texters – 29% vs. 20%), and 25% more likely to have experienced dropped calls (35% vs. 28%) at least weekly. The gap closes when it comes to getting unwanted sales or marketing calls on their device, although smartphone owners also report this occurrence at a slightly higher rate (26% vs. 23%).

According to May 2012 survey results from Prosper Mobile Insights, among the smartphone and tablet owners surveyed, 36.9% had experienced a slow internet connection, and 24.1% said they had experienced dropped calls.

Slow Download Speeds Most Common Problem

Overall, according to the Pew study, 46% of cell phone owners (including smartphone owners) who access the internet, apps, or email over their devices complain that they encounter slow download speeds at least a few times a week. The next most-common problem dealt with at that frequency is dropped calls (31%), although this is a lower figure than found by Rebtel in May 2012 survey results (see link above): according to that study, roughly 2 in 5 mobile users complain of more than 5 dropped calls per month.

Among the Pew cell phone owners, spam and unwanted texts (among texters – 25%), and unwanted sales and marketing calls (24%) also showed up as significant problems, though at a lesser rate than slow download speeds and dropped calls.

Non-Whites More Likely to Face Issues

Data from Pew’s “Mobile Phone Problems” indicates that Hispanic and black cell phone owners are more likely to report these problems than white cell phone owners. Hispanics cell phone owners who engage in online activities are the most likely to face slow download speeds on at least a weekly basis, at 53%, while white and African-American cell phone owners are virtually tied on this issue (at 44% and 43%, respectively).

When it comes to receiving spam or unwanted texts (among texters), getting unwanted sales and marketing calls, and dropped calls, though, African-American cell phone owners are the most likely to face these issues on at least a weekly basis, at 37%, 34%, and 41%, respectively. In each case, Hispanic cell phone owners are more likely than white phone owners to encounter each of those problems, with the gap highest for dropped calls (39% vs. 30%).

The report suggests that the higher incidence of problems among African-American and Hispanic cell phone owners could be a result of their being more likely to rely on their cell phones as their primary or exclusive devices for calling or internet access. Indeed, according to June 2012 results from the US National Health Institute Survey (NHIS), Hispanic adults (43.3%) and African-American (36.8%) adults in H2 2011 were both far more likely than white adults (29%) to be living in cell-only households (without a landline).

About the Data: The Pew data is based on a survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from March 15-April 3, 2012. The total sample size was 2,254 adults, aged 18 and older, including 903 cell phone interviews. The sample sizes were as follows: for cell owners, 1,954; for cell owners who text message, 1,395; for cell owners who use the internet or email on their cell phones or download apps to their cell phone, 953. The interviews were conducted in English and Spanish and on landline phones and cell phones.