Bostonians all hung up over their cells

Bank survey suggests city among most obsessed

Youki Ohkami of East Boston checks his phone while he waits for the train in East Boston last November.
Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
Youki Ohkami of East Boston checks his phone while he waits for the train in East Boston last November.

Bostonians can skip their daily coffee fix. They can do without their cars. They care even less about their microwaves. But do not take away their mobile phones.

That’s the result of the first Bank of America survey on mobile trends and behaviors that found Boston was among the cities most dependent on mobile phones. Nine out of 10 Boston residents said that their mobile phone was extremely important to their daily life, ranking higher than laptops and cars; other Americans found their cars as important as their cellphone.

The bank conducted interviews with 1,000 consumers in eight major markets nationwide in May. The results show that New Yorkers were the most likely to be bored without their mobile phones, Californians most aggravated by the way other people used their devices, and Florida residents, who include a large number of snowbirds, least likely to adopt emerging technology. “Mobile phones have changed the way we live our daily lives,” said Marc Warshawsky, a senior vice president and mobile solutions executive at Bank of America. “It shows mobility is an indispensable part of people’s lives.”


For consumers, mobile phones not only have become the way to connect with others but also are entertainment devices and repositories of crucial information and photos.

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For younger people, logging into a mobile phone is as much a ritual as brushing their teeth. In fact, the survey found that respondents between 18 and 24 years old ranked their phone as slightly more important to their daily life than even their toothbrush and deodorant.

In Boston, 56 percent of residents surveyed used their phone for banking, above the national average of 50 percent. Bank of America officials said they were uncertain whether Boston’s economy, with its heavy emphasis on technology and finance, contributes to the reliance on mobile phones.

The city also has a large number of young recent college graduates that could also be driving its mobile addiction, said Mary Monahan, a research director at Javelin Strategy & Research, a California company that tracks financial institutions and technology.

Banks will continue to invest in mobile technology, considering the phone’s importance to consumers, Warshawsky said. Financial institutions across the country are looking at using biometrics, including fingerprint scans, to allow consumers to bank from their phone and trying to find easier ways for consumers to pay with their handhelds. “Mobile will be a key proving ground for that innovation,” Warshawsky said.

Fernandes can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.