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Survey: Wi-Fi becoming smartphone must-have

ABI Research says 74 percent of those polled with Wi-Fi-enabled cell phones take advantage of the connectivity, and 77 percent would seek Wi-Fi in their next phone.

More and more people expect Wi-Fi from their cell phones, according to a survey released Wednesday by ABI Research.

The survey was conducted in February, with more than 1,000 U.S. mobile-phone users between the ages of 18 and 59 participating.

A Windows Mobile smartphone with Wi-Fi connectivity. CNET

The results showed that 77 percent of people with Wi-Fi-enabled mobile phones are completely or very satisfied with their devices. Among those who have Wi-Fi on their phones, 74 percent use the feature, and 77 percent say they will also seek Wi-Fi connectivity in their next phone.

According to the study, about 44 percent of smartphones currently have the Wi-Fi feature. This figure is expected to increase to 90 percent by 2014. This is interesting, as almost 60 percent of those owning Wi-Fi-enabled phones have had their phones for less than a year.

These findings fall in line with a report earlier this year by the Wi-Fi Alliance stating that despite the economic downturn, the Wi-Fi industry would continue to grow. The Wi-Fi Alliance tests and issues the Wi-Fi Certified certification to ensure that Wi-Fi products from different vendors can work well with one another.

According to Edgar Figueroa, executive director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, since 2000, the group has completed more than 5,000 certifications of consumer and enterprise devices. To date, 311 handsets--including smartphones--have been recognized as Wi-Fi Certified.

Personally, I think that Wi-Fi connectivity is a great feature for smartphones, as long as vendors can solve the problem of the feature draining a phone's battery quickly. Nonetheless, I use my iPhone 3G's Wi-Fi features all the time--especially considering that my phone's 3G mode hardly works well in the San Francisco Bay Area.

How about you? Which Wi-Fi phone do you use, and how often do you turn the Wi-Fi feature on?