July 11, 2011

How smartphone owners describe their phones

In our first standalone measure of smartphone ownership, we found that two in five cell owners (42%) own a smartphone as of May 2011. Since 83% of Americans own some kind of mobile phone, this means that one-third of all American adults (35%) are smartphone owners.

Along with asking about smartphone adoption and usage, we also included a question in our spring survey that asked cell phone owners to provide the one word that best describes how they feel about their phones. The smartphone owners we surveyed provided an enormous diversity of reactions to this question—the 662 responses we coded included 177 unique descriptors—so few words or phrases stuck out clearly from the pack. The three most common words were “good” (mentioned by 10% of smartphone owners), “great” and “convenient” (each mentioned by 7% of smartphone owners). Overall, 72% of smartphone owners used a positive word (such as “good”, “great”, “excellent” or “convenient”) to describe their phones, 16% used a negative description (such as “expensive” or “frustrated/frustrating”) and 12% offered a neutral word choice (such as “adequate”, “OK”, “fair” or “fine”).

The results reported here are based on a national telephone survey of 2,277 adults conducted April 26-May 22, 2011. 1,522 interviews were conducted by landline phone, and 755 interviews were conducted by cell phone. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.