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Poll: Smartphones are winning the internet

Data: SurveyMonkey online poll conducted Nov. 27–29 among 3,040 U.S. adults who use smartphones. Total margin of error is ±2.5 percentage points; Poll methodology; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Nearly 8 out of 10 smartphone users in the U.S. use their phones to access the internet at home more than or as much as a computer, according to an Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.

Why it matters: It's a sign of how much people's online habits have evolved, as smartphones and smart TVs are becoming the primary gateway to internet at home compared to desktops and tablets. More than twice as many people said they use smartphones more often than computers to connect with the internet, compared to those who use computers more often.

Between the lines: The survey didn't examine whether people use smart TVs to access the internet more often, but given that more than half of U.S. households have smart TVs that stream content from the internet, it's likely that they are also serving as primary vehicles for accessing the internet at home.

By the numbers:

  • The convenience factor: The overwhelming majority (80%) of those who use their smartphones more often say they do so because it is more convenient, compared to just 4% that say they do so because it's cheaper or 12% that say they do so because they don't have access to a computer.
  • The practical factor: More than 7 out of 10 say they can do all or most of what they want to do online on a smartphone.
  • The ease factor: About one-quarter (24%) of respondents who do not have broadband at home (which represents about 13% of U.S. households) say the primary reason they do not use home broadband is that their mobile device lets them do everything online they would do with fixed broadband.
  • The cost factor: Roughly one-fifth (20%) say it's because the monthly cost of home broadband service is too expensive.

The bottom line: Americans are becoming more dependent on smartphones and mobile data to access the internet. PwC estimates that mobile data consumption will surpass fixed broadband for the first time this year.

Methodology: This analysis is based on a SurveyMonkey online poll conducted among adults ages 18 and older in the United States. Respondents were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over.

The survey was conducted Nov. 27–29 among 3,308 adults. The modeled error estimate for the full sample is ±2.5 percentage points and full crosstabs are available here.

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