A new Pew Research study on Americans and smartphones finds that the percentage of Americans with smartphones has almost doubled from just 4 years ago, from 36% to 64%, and that for some 20 million mostly low-income Americans, it's the only means they have of accessing the internet:
10% of Americans own a smartphone but do not have any other form of high-speed internet access at homebeyond their phone’s data plan.
Using a broader measure of the access options available to them, 15% of Americans own a smartphone but say that they have a limited number of ways to get online other than their cell phone.
In all, one-in-five American adults (19%) indicate that at least one of those conditions apply to them, and 7% of the public says that both of these conditions apply — that is, they do not have broadband access at home, and also have relatively few options for getting online other than their cell phone. Throughout this report, we refer to this latter group as “smartphone-dependent” users.
So, who are these Americans who depend on their smartphones for internet access?
Certain groups of Americans rely on smartphones for online access at elevated levels, in particular:
Younger adults — 15% of Americans ages 18-29 are heavily dependent on a smartphone for online access.
Those with low household incomes and levels of educational attainment — Some 13% of Americans with an annual household income of less than $30,000 per year are smartphone-dependent. Just 1% of Americans from households earning more than $75,000 per year rely on their smartphones to a similar degree for online access.
Non-whites — 12% of African Americans and 13% of Latinos are smartphone-dependent, compared with 4% of whites.
Compared with smartphone owners who are less reliant on their mobile devices, these smartphone-dependent users are less likely to own some other type of computing device, less likely to have a bank account, less likely to be covered by health insurance, and more likely to rent or to live with a friend or family member rather than own their own home.
If I were a Republican strategist, I'd suddenly have a desire to make it a lot harder to own a cell phone without an address, background check, bank account and credit card.
But I'm being cynical of course