Cell phones are ubiquitous in the United States--83 percent of Americans adults own one. But not all cell phones are created equal. About a third of Americans own smartphones--top-of-the-line cells with features like high-resolution cameras, touchscreens, GPS navigation, email, and web browsers--while the rest of the cell phone owning masses have phones that only make calls or sends text messages--"dumb"-phones, if you will.

Clearly these two groups use their cells differently, and a new Pew study out today (PDF) offers a peak into the divergent phone habits of smart- and dumbphone users. What it shows is that smartphone have become an nearly essential part of their owners' lives (though phones are still important for regular cell users, too). The former are more likely than those with regular phones to rely on their their devices to get them out of a jam, whether it be to handle an emergency (43 vs. 37 percent), alleviate boredom (72 vs. 21 percent), or, best of all, avoid an awkward interaction with someone else (20 vs. 8 percent). And that reliance can become a source of frustration, too. Roughly a third of smartphone users report being frustrated when something took too long to download or having trouble doing something because they didn't have their phones. (Clearly these are First World problems.)

Pew's findings confirm what anyone with a smartphone already knew: it is hard for them to live without one. Pew writes that "these users stand in marked contrast to cell owners with more basic devices in terms of how they utilize their mobile devices and incorporate them into their lives." And while a plurality of Americans still have regular cells, the smartphoners' ranks grow every year. Soon all of America will depend on them.

Source: Pew Research Center