Half of mobile phone users get online with their device

Whether they're checking their bank account, downloading an app, or e-mailing, a new study shows that 56 percent of cell phone owners are using their device to access the Internet.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Pew Internet & American Life Project

People are now using their cell phones for much more than talking. According to a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 85 percent of U.S. adults own a mobile phone and 56 percent of them use it to get online.

"Fully 85 percent of American adults own a cell phone and now use the devices to do much more than make phone calls," Pew's Maeve Duggan and Lee Rainie wrote in the recently released study. "Cell phones have become a portal for an ever-growing list of activities."

The data is based on surveys conducted in March and August, which polled more than 4,500 cell phone owners about their habits. The survey didn't clarify what percentage of those polled owned a smartphone, but a Pew poll that came out in April showed that roughly 46 percent of American adults own a smartphone.

Interestingly, this number isn't much higher than a year ago. In July 2011, Pew data showed that 83 percent of U.S. adults have a cell phone and 35 percent own a smartphone.

Despite the small amount of growth, Pew's new survey does suggest that mobile devices are spurring more people to get online and spend more time online. For example, those people using the Internet has gone from 25 percent in 2008 to 56 percent today. And, only 22 percent of people downloaded apps in 2009, while 43 percent do so now. Whether people are taking photos, e-mailing, texting, or getting online, they are now doing more with their cell phones.