A new report Wednesday from the Pew Research Center found 7 percent of Americans, more than 20 million people, use a smartphone as their only connection to the Internet.

Pew also found 15 percent of Americans own a smartphone and say, other than their phone, they have limited access to the Internet. About 10 percent own a smartphone and do not have broadband Internet at home.

Many of those in these three “smartphone-dependent” categories are young, non-white and often have lower income and education levels.

Overall, smartphone penetration in the United States is almost 64 percent but that figure increases to 85 percent for young adults aged 18 - 29.

In 2011, only 35 percent of Americans owned a smartphone.

The report found Americans are increasingly dependent on smartphones for crucial tasks such as turn-by-turn driving directions, discovering breaking news and connecting with their communities. For the smartphone-dependent, the Web connection is even more significant to their lives.

“Smartphones are widely used for navigating numerous important life activities, from researching a health condition to accessing educational resources,” Pew’s team noted in its report. “Lower-income and ‘smartphone-dependent’ users are especially likely to turn to their phones for navigating job and employment resources.”

More than 60 percent of Americans surveyed said they had used a smartphone in the last year to look up health information, while 57 percent used their devices for online banking, 44 percent used it to research real estate listings and 43 percent used their smartphones to search for employment information.

Nearly half – 46 percent – of smartphone owners claimed they could not live without their smartphones — a response that must ring especially true for those dependent on their smartphones for Web access.

The survey of 3,181 Americans, which included 2,188 smartphone owners, was conducted last October.

Anadolu Agency