The smartphone ideal--high speeds! everywhere availability!--and smartphone reality are still separate things, says a new report from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.
Despite the proliferation of devices sporting quad-core processors and networks running 3G, HSPA+ and 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology, Americans still find themselves waiting on their phones. And while it's nice to reach out when one needs to, there's suddenly too much fielding of unwanted contacts.
Of the 55 percent of cell phone owners who use their phones to go online, whether to access the Internet, download apps or send emails, 77 percent said they experience download speeds that are slower than they'd like. Of those Internet users, 46 percent said they suffered those slow speeds "weekly or more frequently."
Of the 79 percent of cell phone owners who told Pew they send text messages, 69 percent said they receive unwanted spam or text messages, and 25 said they face those problems at least weekly.
"The telemarketing and spam findings are noteworthy because legal restrictions apply to both activities," said the Pew report. "It is against the law in the U.S. to place unsolicited commercial calls to a mobile phone when the call is made by using an automated random-digit dialing generator or if the caller uses a pre-recorded message."
Smartphone owners, Pew found, experienced higher rates of such incidents--29 percent received "spam" texts, compared to 20 percent of feature phone owners, and 26 percent received unwanted sales calls, compared to 23 percent of other phone owners.
Smartphone owners also experienced slower than desirable down speeds, with 49 percent saying they experienced the issue "at least weekly," compared to 31 percent of other phone owners.
Even phone calls, seemingly the least technologically fancy capability of modern smartphones, aren't yet a no-brainer. Of the 88 percent of American adults with cell phones, 72 percent told Pew that they experience dropped calls "at least occasionally," while 32 percent said their calls get dropped a few times a week or more frequently.
On smartphones, this again happened more frequently--35 percent experience it at least weekly, compared to 28 percent of feature phone owners.
Perhaps more shockingly, Pew broke down its results by ethnicity and found that white cell phone owners experienced all of these issues less frequently than black or Hispanic device owners. For example, 30 percent of white cell phone owners said they experienced dropped calls at least weekly, while 39 percent of Hispanic and 41 percent of black cell phone owners.
Hispanics, more than other groups, said they experience slow download speeds, and black survey respondents, more than the other groups, said they were subject to unwanted text messages.
Pew explained, "This might be tied to the fact that African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely than whites to rely on their cell phones as their primary or exclusive phones for calling and for Internet access."
This article was originally published on 08-06-2012