Smartphones proliferate, and for many mobile is only way onto Internet

A third of all American adults own a smartphone and for many minority and low income users, those mobile devices have replaced computers for Internet access.

The findings released Monday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project highlight the breakneck speed consumers are adopting smartphones — faster than just about any high-tech product in history.

It’s been four years since the introduction of the iPhone and rival devices that run Google’s Android software. In that time, the devices have turned much of America into an always-on, Internet-on-the-go society.

A quarter of Americans with smartphones use the devices as their main way to get onto the Internet, the Pew study found. About nine in 10 owners of such devices access the Web and check their e-mail each day through their device.

Smartphone users are diverse. Most are well-off and educated. And adoption by blacks and Hispanics is particularly high at 44 percent.

“For businesses, government agencies and nonprofits who want to engage with certain communities, they will find them in front of a four-inch screen, not in front of a big computer in their den,” said Aaron Smith, a researcher at Pew and author of the report.

The size of the screen is just about the only thing that keeps Miguel Reyes, 20, on his laptop. He prefers to watch soccer matches and play video games on his Mac. But for just about everything else, his iPhone will do.

The recent high school graduate from Landover was lounging in his back yard last month and was reminded about a book he wanted from Mexican author Francisco Jimenez. Instead of walking into his bedroom and opening his laptop, he grabbed his iPhone from his pocket, fired up his browser and looked up prices for the book on different sites.

“I’m finding fewer and fewer things that make my laptop all that much better than my phone,” Reyes said.

Read here for the full story.

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.

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