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In contrast to the largely stationary internet of the early 2000s, Americans today are increasingly connected to the world of digital information while “on the go” via smartphones and other mobile devices. Explore the patterns and trends that have shaped the mobile revolution below.

Mobile phone ownership over time

The vast majority of Americans – 97% – now own a cellphone of some kind. The share of Americans that own a smartphone is now 85%, up from just 35% in Pew Research Center’s first survey of smartphone ownership conducted in 2011.

Who owns cellphones and smartphones

A substantial majority of Americans are cellphone owners across a wide range of demographic groups. By contrast, smartphone ownership exhibits greater variation based on age, household income and educational attainment.

% of U.S. adults who say they own a …

Cellphone Smartphone Cellphone, but not smartphone
Total 97% 85% 11%
Men 97% 85% 11%
Women 98% 85% 12%
Ages 18-29 100% 96% 4%
30-49 100% 95% 5%
50-64 97% 83% 12%
65+ 92% 61% 29%
White 97% 85% 11%
Black 99% 83% 15%
Hispanic 100% 85% 14%
High school or less 96% 75% 19%
Some college 98% 89% 9%
College graduate 98% 93% 5%
Less than $30,000 97% 76% 19%
$30,000-$49,999 97% 83% 14%
$50,000-$74,999 97% 85% 12%
$75,000+ 100% 96% 3%
Urban 98% 89% 9%
Suburban 97% 84% 12%
Rural 94% 80% 14%

Note: Respondents who did not give an answer are not shown. White and Black adults include those who report being only one race and are not Hispanic. Hispanics are of any race.
Source: Survey of U.S. adults conducted Jan. 25-Feb. 8, 2021.

Pew Research Center

Ownership of other devices

Along with mobile phones, Americans own a range of other information devices. About three-quarters of U.S. adults now own a desktop or laptop computer, while roughly half own a tablet computer.

Smartphone dependency over time

There has been a steady decline of those who use smartphones as their primary means of online access at home in recent years. Today, 15% of American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users – meaning they own a smartphone, but do not have traditional home broadband service.

Who is smartphone dependent

Reliance on smartphones for online access is especially common among younger adults, lower-income Americans and those with a high school education or less.

Find out more

Find more in-depth explorations of the impact of mobile adoption by following the links below.

Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2021 June 3, 2021
Digital divide persists even as Americans with lower incomes make gains in tech adoption June 22, 2021
Some digital divides persist between rural, urban and suburban America August 19, 2021
Americans with disabilities less likely than those without to own some digital devices September 10, 2021

All reports and blog posts related to mobile technology.