91% of Americans Own Cell Phones, Study Finds

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A new study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project bolsters the view that cell phones and smartphones are everywhere. According to the group's just-released study, 91% of American adults own a cell phone and more than 55% of those devices are smartphones.

We've come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Just 20 years ago -- the dawning of 1991 -- cell phones were very expensive, high-end devices. The hot ticket back then was Motorola's (Motorola is now owned by Google ) MicroTAC flip-phone. And trying to burst onto the scene was IBM's revolutionary "Simon," which was touted as a mobile phone, PDA, pager and portable fax machine you could carry with you.

In 2013. our portable phones are much more versatile and pervasive, The Pew study found:

  • 81% of cell phone owners send or receive text messages
  • 60% of cell phone owners access the Internet
  • 52% send or receive email
  • 50% download apps
  • 49% get directions, recommendations, or other location-based information
  • 48% listen to music
  • 21% participate in a video call or video chat
  • 8% "check in" or share their location

Overall, texting, accessing the Internet and sending and receiving email remain very popular. Half of all of cell phone owners download apps, up from only 22% in 2009.

The research also determined that age, race, education and household income all affect levels of cell phone ownership. Hispanic Americans are more likely to own cell phones (87%) than non-Hispanic black (85%) or non-Hispanic white (79%) users. More than 90% of those 18 to 49 years old own cell phones compared to 75% of those 50-64 and only 35% of those older than 65. Those who have attended or finished college were more likely (85 to 86%) to own phones compared to high school grads (77%), and families with household yearly incomes of more than $50,000 were more likely to own a cell phone.

The results of the Pew group's report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 17 to May 19, 2013, among a sample of 2,252 adults, 18 and older.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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