Demographics of mobile device ownership and adoption in the United States

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Unlike the largely static Internet of the early 2000s, Americans today are increasingly connected to the world of digital information on the go via smartphones and other portable devices. Explore the patterns and trends that shaped the mobile revolution below.

Mobile phone ownership over time

The vast majority of Americans – 97% – now own a cell phone of some kind. The share of Americans who own a smartphone is now 85%, up from just 35% in the first Pew Research Center survey of smartphone ownership in 2011.

cell phone smart phone
10/27/2002 62%
11/30/2004 65%
2/9/2005 66%
12/31/2005 67%
3/28/2006 66%
4/6/2006 73%
9/5/2007 76%
12/2/2007 75%
13/1/2008 77%
5/11/2008 78%
10/8/2008 82%
12/20/2008 84%
27/1/2009 85%
4/19/2009 85%
14/9/2009 84%
12/27/2009 83%
1/19/2010 80%
30/5/2010 82%
9/13/2010 85%
11/1/2010 84%
11/24/2010 82%
11/28/2010 82%
12/21/2010 81%
3/20/2011 86%
2011/05/22 83% 35%
2011/8/26 84%
2011/12/21 87%
1/8/2012 88%
15/1/2012 87% 39%
2/19/2012 88% 45%
4/3/2012 88% 46%
8/5/2012 87% 44%
8/7/2012 89%
9/6/2012 85% 45%
9/23/2012 88% 43%
9/30/2012 89%
10/14/2012 88%
11/4/2012 89%
10/11/2012 84% 46%
12/9/2012 87% 45%
12/16/2012 88%
1/6/2013 89% 51%
5/19/2013 91% 56%
7/14/2013 90% 53%
7/28/2013 91% 53%
9/16/2013 89% 54%
9/30/2013 91% 55%
10/6/2013 92% 58%
1/5/2014 92% 55%
12/1/2014 90% 58%
26/1/2014 91% 55%
2/18/2014 90%
27/4/2014 92%
9/21/2014 91%
12/21/2014 PM 89% 59%
4/12/2015 92% 67%
7/12/2015 92% 68%
2015/11/15 91% 69%
4/4/2016 92% 72%
5/3/2016 92% 70%
11/6/2016 95% 77%
10/1/2018 95% 77%
2/7/2019 96% 81%
2/8/2021 97% 85%

Pew Research Center

Who owns cell phones and smartphones

The vast majority of Americans are cell phone owners across a wide range of demographic groups. By contrast, smartphone ownership shows greater variance based on age, household income, and educational attainment.

% of American adults who say they own…

cell phone smart phone A mobile phone, but not a smartphone
Total 97% 85% 11%
men 97% 85% 11%
a woman 98% 85% 12%
Ages 18 to 29 years 100% 96% 4%
30-49 100% 95% 5%
50-64 97% 83% 12%
65+ 92% 61% 29%
white 97% 85% 11%
black 99% 83% 15th%
Hispanic 100% 85% 14%
High school or less 96% 75% 19%
some colleges 98% 89% 9%
college graduate 98% 93% 5%
Less than 30 thousand dollars 97% 76% 19%
$30,000 – $49,999 97% 83% 14%
$50,000 – $74,999 97% 85% 12%
$75,000 + 100% 96% 3%
civilized 98% 89% 9%
from the suburbs 97% 84% 12%
rural 94% 80% 14%

Note: Respondents who have not given an answer are not displayed. White and black adults include those who report being only one race and not Hispanic. Hispanics are of any race.
Source: Survey of US adults from January 25 to February. 8, 2021.

Pew Research Center

Ownership of other devices

Besides cell phones, Americans own a host of other information devices. About three-quarters of adults in the United States now own a desktop or laptop computer, while nearly half own a tablet.

e-reader tablet computer Desktop/laptop computer
13/1/2008 74%
4/19/2009 2%
14/9/2009 3%
30/5/2010 4% 3%
6/20/2010 78%
9/13/2010 5% 4%
11/24/2010 6% 5%
2011/05/22 12% 8%
2011/8/26 9% 10%
2011/12/21 10% 10% 75%
1/8/2012 18% 20%
15/1/2012 19% 19% 78%
2/19/2012 14% 14%
4/3/2012 18% 18%
8/5/2012 19% 21%
8/7/2012 25%
10/11/2012 19% 24% 77%
12/16/2012 29%
1/6/2013 26% 31%
5/19/2013 24% 34%
9/30/2013 24% 34%
4/12/2015 19% 45% 73%
4/4/2016 17% 48% 74%
11/6/2016 22% 51% 78%
10/1/2018 53% 73%
2/7/2019 52% 74%
2/8/2021 53% 77%

Pew Research Center

Reliance on a smartphone over time

There has been a steady decline in the number of smartphone users as the primary means of accessing the Internet at home in recent years. Today, 15% of American adults are “smartphone-only” Internet users – which means they own a smartphone, but don’t have traditional home broadband service.

adults in the United States
2013 8%
2014
2015 13%
2016 12%
2017
2018 20%
2019 17%
2021 15th%

Pew Research Center

Who depends on the smartphone

Reliance on smartphones for online access is particularly common among younger adults and low-income Americans with a high school education or less.

18-29 30-49 50-64 65+
2013 12% 9% 7% 3%
2014
2015 19% 16% 11% 7%
2016 17% 13% 11% 7%
2017
2018 28% 24% 16% 10%
2019 22% 18% 14% 12%
2021 28% 11% 13% 12%

Pew Research Center

white black Hispanic
2013 6% 10% 16%
2014
2015 10% 19% 23%
2016 9% 15th% 23%
2017
2018 14% 24% 35%
2019 12% 23% 25%
2021 12% 17% 25%

Pew Research Center

men a woman
2013 9% 8%
2014
2015 14% 13%
2016 12% 12%
2017
2018 20% 19%
2019 17% 16%
2021 14% 15th%

Pew Research Center

Less than 30 thousand dollars $30,000 – $49,999 $50,000 – $74,999 $75,000 +
2013 12% 9% 5% 5%
2014
2015 20% 15th% 10% 6%
2016 21% 12% 10% 5%
2017
2018 31% 22% 14% 9%
2019 26% 20% 10% 6%
2021 27% 19% 6% 6%

Pew Research Center

Less than a high school graduate high school graduate High school or less some colleges college graduate
2013 14% 11% 8% 4%
2014
2015 21% 17% 14% 6%
2016 27% 15th% 12% 5%
2017
2018 39% 22% 21% 10%
2019 32% 24% 16% 4%
2021 23% 15th% 4%

Pew Research Center

civilized from the suburbs rural
2013 9% 7% 9%
2014
2015 15th% 12% 15th%
2016 12% 12% 14%
2017
2018 22% 17% 17%
2019 17% 13% 20%
2021 16% 12% 17%

Pew Research Center

Find out more

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

Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2021 Jun 3, 2021
The digital divide persists even as low-income Americans gain tech adoption on June 22, 2021
Some digital divides still exist between rural, urban and suburban America on August 19, 2021
Americans with disabilities are less likely than those without some digital devices on September 10, 2021

All reports and blog posts related to mobile technology.

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