Smartphones Catching On With Older Americans

According to the Deloitte US edition of its Mobile Consumer Survey, 82% of US adults own or have ready access to a smartphone this year, up from 70% two years ago. While penetration is broadest among 18-44-year-olds, overall increases in adoption are being driven by older Americans.



This year, says the report, two-thirds of respondents ages 55-75 reported ownership or ready access to smartphones, up from 53% in 2015, while more than 80% of adults ages 45-54 now have access to a smartphone, up from 65% a couple of years ago. The compound annual growth rate in adoption from 2015-2017 is highest among these two age brackets, each at close to 8%.

Most Older Americans Use Their Smartphones Every Day

The Deloitte report says that as smartphone penetration grows, there’s consistency in usage across age groups. About 9 in 10 smartphone owners in each age bracket report using their device on a daily basis, ranging from a low of 88% among 25-34-year-olds to a high of 94% among 18-24-year-olds.

Smartphone Penetration By AgeGroup


All Adults



















Source: DataSource:Deloite; Pub: MarketingCharts, November 2017

Not only are older Americans using smartphones, but they’re also active users of their smart watches too, says the report. The Deloitte study indicates that daily use of smart watches is highest among the 55-75 demographic, of whom three-quarters use them daily. By comparison, just 58% of 18-24-year-olds use theirs daily, as do 60% of 25-34-year-olds.

Emerging Tech Adoption Grows

13% of US adults own or have access to a smart watch, (though based on small sample sizes.) The report shows a 12% increase from last year (but represents a much greater jump from 2015 (4%) as reported early this year by the Consumer Technology Association

The CTA study indicated that virtual reality devices are poised for strong growth – with a projected 79% increase in unit sales this year. Deloitte’s survey results suggest that 1 in 10 adults now owns a virtual reality (VR) headset.

Adoption of fitness bands has reached 23% of respondents, up from 17% last year. Among emerging technologies, wearables represent the most mature market, from separate CTA research.

Interest in wearable technology seems to be on the rise, says the report. 69% are interested in at least one of the 6 wearables identified in the report, up from 59% two years ago. The study’s results suggest that interest in ownership has increased for each of these devices, led by smart watches (32% interested) and fitness bands. Close to 1 in 5 also express interest in smart clothing (18%) and VR handsets (18%).

Connecting With the Always-On Smartphone User

Separately, the Deloitte study shows that Americans continue to check their phones frequently throughout the day, an estimated 47 times on average. 89% report looking at their phones within an hour of waking up and 81% within an hour before preparing to sleep.

Connecting with these mobile device owners requires an understanding of consumer use. The report says that they’re using them almost everywhere:

  • 92% while out shopping
  • 89% while watching TV
  • 85% while talking to friends and family
  • 81% while eating at restaurants (or at home (78%)
  • 54% while in business meetings

Use of smartphones’ main communication activities is also climbing, concludes the report. More than 90% text message on at least a weekly basis, while 86% make voice calls and 81% send and receive emails weekly. 72% use social networks on their smartphones on at least a weekly basis (up from 60% in 2015), and 30% make video calls (up from 17%), says the report.

For more from Deloitte, please visit the full report here.

1 comment about "Smartphones Catching On With Older Americans".
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  1. Sharon Mariner from Mariner Media Solutiuons, December 1, 2017 at 4:17 p.m.

    Thank you for acknowledging this! My father is 89 years old and uses his iPhone constantly! Twitter and news apps is what he uses it most for, but he access his Facebook account, email, and loves Google Translate - he think's it's a game! 

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