Highlights of the Pew Internet Project’s research related to mobile technology.
(Note: This page will be updated whenever new data is available.)
As of January 2013:
- 26% of American adults own an e-reader
- 31% of American adults own a tablet computer
For more information on e-readers, tablets, and libraries in the digital age, please visit the new section of our website: libraries.pewinternet.org.
As of December 2012:
- 87% of American adults have a cell phone
- 45% of American adults have a smartphone
A spreadsheet of the above data is available for download here.
The demographic breakdown:
Cell internet access:
As of April 2012, 55% of adult cell owners use the internet on their mobile phones; nearly double what we found three years ago.
31% of current cell internet users say that they mostly go online using their cell phone, and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer. That works out to 17% of all adult cell owners who are “cell-mostly internet users”—that is, who use their phone for most of their online browsing.
For more specific information on cell internet access, visit our recent report.
Mobile phone problems:
In April 2012, we found:
- 72% of cell owners experience dropped calls at least occasionally. Some 32% of cell owners say they encounter this problem at least a few times a week or more frequently than that.
- 68% of cell owners receive unwanted sales or marketing calls at one time or another. And 25% of cell owners encounter this problem at least a few times a week or more frequently.
Some 79% of cell phone owners say they use text messaging on their cells. We asked them if they got spam or unwanted texts:
- 69% of those who are texters say they get unwanted spam or text messages. Of those texters, 25% face problems with spam/unwanted texts at least weekly.
Some 55% of cell phone owners say they use their phones to go online— to browse the internet, exchange emails, or download apps. We asked them if they experience slow download speeds that prevent things from loading as quickly as they would like:
- 77% of cell internet users say they experience slow download speeds that prevent things from loading as quickly as they would like. Of those cell internet users, 46% face slow download speeds weekly or more frequently.
How Americans use their cell phones:
The % of cell phone owners who use their cell phone to…
- Take a picture: 82
- Send or receive text messages: 80
- Access the internet: 56
- Send or receive email: 50
- Record Video: 44
- Download Apps: 43
- Look for health or medical information online: 31
- Check bank account balance or do any online banking: 29
"Just in time" information:
An April 2012 survey finds that some 70% of all cell phone owners and 86% of smartphone owners have used their phones in the previous 30 days to perform at least one of the following activities:
- Coordinate a meeting or get-together -- 41% of cell phone owners have done this in the past 30 days.
- Solve an unexpected problem that they or someone else had encountered -- 35% have used their phones to do this in the past 30 days.
- Decide whether to visit a business, such as a restaurant -- 30% have used their phone to do this in the past 30 days.
- Find information to help settle an argument they were having -- 27% haveused their phone to get information for that reason in the past 30 days.
- Look up a score of a sporting event -- 23% have used their phone to do that in the past 30 days.
- Get up-to-the-minute traffic or public transit information to find the fastest way to get somewhere -- 20% have used their phone to get that kind of information in the past 30 days.
- Get help in an emergency situation -- 19% have used their phone to do that in the past 30 days.
Overall, these “just-in-time” cell users—defined as anyone who has done one or more of the above activities using their phone in the preceding 30 days—amount to 62% of the entire adult population. (See Just-in-time Information through Mobile Connections.)
During the 2012 holiday season:
- 46% of cell owners used their phone to call a friend while they were in a store for advice about a purchase they were considering making
- 28% of cell owners used their phone to look up reviews of a product online while they were in a store
- 27% of adult cell owners used their phones to look up the price of a product online while they were in a store, to see if they could get a better price somewhere else
For more information, please see “In-Store Mobile Commerce During the 2012 Holiday Shopping Season” http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/in-store-mobile-commerce.aspx
9% of adults have texted a charitable donation from their mobile phone. Mobile giving played an especially prominent role during the aftermath of the January 2010 Haiti earthquake, as individual donors contributed an estimated $43 million to the assistance and reconstruction efforts using the text messaging feature on their cell phones:
You can find more information in our report, Real Time Charitable Giving.
For more general mobile activity data, please see: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Best-Worst-Mobile.aspx and http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Cell-Activities/Main-Findings.aspx (2012)