Christopher Mims is the science and technology correspondent for Quartz. His work has appeared in Wired and Scientific American, as well as on the BBC.
Hint: It's not cars.
In a survey released today, Gallup has identified the one thing American millennials are wedded to: their smartphones.
The survey calls this group "Smartphone Reliants." They’re less likely to own most consumer electronics like PCs, tablets and Blu Ray players—and yet 93 percent of them own smartphones. Smartphone Reliants tend to be 34 and younger and middle income—$30,000 to $74,999 per year.
They’re less likely to have gone to college than any other group Gallup identified except for the 28 percent of Americans who barely touch technology at all. Only 27 percent of Smartphone Reliants have at least a Bachelor’s degree compared to 54 percent of “Super Tech Adopters” (who are 31 percent of the surveyed population), and 37 percent of “Mature Technophiles (21 percent of the population).
Gallup says that the 19 percent of Americans that rely primarily on smartphones (and to a lesser extent, on notebook computers) are probably doing so because of their lower income and employment levels, compared to other groups.
If this survey extrapolates to rest of the country, it means that 1 in 5 Americans resemble, both in income profile and technological preferences, the billions of people in emerging markets for whom an affordable smartphone may be their first computing device.
This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.