Smartphone Penetration Higher Among Younger, Wealthier Groups

Pew-Smartphone-Ownership-Income-Age-Grouping-June201361% of American cell phone owners can be classified as smartphone owners, according to a new study [pdf] from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. That’s slightly higher than a recent comScore estimate of 58% mobile market penetration (though that was in the 13+ population, rather than the adult population), and leads the researchers to note that it means that 56% of all American adults are now smartphone owners. The study notes that smartphone ownership is higher among younger age groups, and similar increases within each group alongside household income level.

Looking at age groups, the study reveals that 8 in 10 adults aged 18-24 (79%) and 25-34 (81%) now own a smartphone. That figure drops to 69% among 35-44-year-olds, and continues to decrease among older brackets, all the way down to 18% of those aged 65 and older.

Smartphone penetration is markedly higher among respondents with larger household income (HHI) levels. In the 18-29 age group, 77% of those with an annual HHI of less than $30,000 own a smartphone, and that rises to 90% among those with an annual HHI of $75,000 or more.

In older age groups, the gaps in penetration between lower and higher income groups are even more dramatic:

  • 30-49 (47% for the lower-income group versus 87% for the higher-income group);
  • 50-64 (22%, up to 72%); and
  • 65+ (8%, up to 43%).

In other results, penetration is higher among urban and suburban (59%) adults than rural adults (40%), and adult males are 11% more likely than adult females to own a smartphone (59% vs. 53%). Finally, penetration is highest among Blacks (64%), followed by Hispanics (60%) and whites (53%).

About the Data: The results in the report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 17 to May 19, 2013, among a sample of 2,252 adults, age 18 and older. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (1,125) and cell phone (1,127, including 571 without a landline phone). For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points. For results based on Internet users (n=1,895), the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.