A majority of all American adults own a smartphone, poll says


Apple's iPhone 5 , left, and previous generation 4S, right, are displayed in this September 12, 2012 photo in San Francisco. (GLENN CHAPMAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

For the first time, a majority of American adults are now smartphone owners, according to a study released Wednesday.

The Pew Center for Internet and American Life found that 56 percent of all American adults now use mobile phones that run an operating system such as Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android or Microsoft’s Windows Phone. That's up from 46 percent in 2012 and 35 percent in 2011.

Google and Apple owners account for half of cellphone users, the report said, with 28 percent of respondents saying they use Android phones and 25 percent saying that they use an iPhone running iOS. The report also found that despite the rising adoption of smartphones, BlackBerry users are dwindling — down to 4 percent of the population from 10 percent in May 2011 in this most recent survey.

Overall, the study found, 91 percent of the U.S. adults own a cellphone. Around one-third, 35 percent, of Americans own cellphones that don’t run mobile operating systems; nine percent of American adults still don’t own any kind of cellphone, the report said.

The survey was conducted over cellphones and landline phones between April 17 and May 19, among a sample of 2,252 adults over the age of 18.

As noted in many technology polls, there are stark differences in adoption among age groups, with younger users much more likely to employ high tech devices. Regardless of income, younger users tend to be smartphone owners. In other age groups, however, a higher salary is a good indicator of whether someone owns a smartphone.

African American users are more likely than Hispanics or white users to say that they own an Android device. Younger, lower-income smartphone owners also tend to be Android users, the study found. Apple customers, meanwhile, tend to skew toward an older, more affluent set of smartphone users.

Apple offers only a few pricing options for its phones, while many companies make phones that run Google’s operating system at various price points.

The domestic smartphone market is a tight race, though Apple and Google are clearly the top players. According to a report from the analysis firm comScore released Tuesday, Apple is the leading smartphone manufacturer in the United States, with 39.2 percent of smartphone subscribers over the age of 13 saying they own an iPhone. Samsung, Apple’s arch rival, makes Android phones and is in second place with 22 percent of the market.

Google’s Android still commands a majority of the overall smartphone market, however, with 52 percent of comScore respondents saying they own an Android phone.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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