Mobile phone usage report 2011: The things you do

GSMArena team, 02 May 2011.

Tags: Misc

Phone calls

We’ve already covered voice calls extensively so there’s no need to go into further detail. Taking first place in four of the six age groups, four of the six continents and among male users, telephony is still the number one job of a mobile phone, disproving the theory that with the advance of smartphones talking on the phone would become a second fiddle.

However, given that just under 65% of teenagers make calls daily, things are likely to change in the future. One in every eight users under the age of 18 only rarely talks on their phone and one in 70 have given up on the mobile phone’s main feature altogether. It’s still early to talk about data-only plans for smartphones, but there are signs that those might eventually come about.

At the other end of the spectrum, users in Africa mostly talk on their phones, which is easy to explain with the still high costs of mobile data there.

Video calls

From the most popular we move to the least used feature in modern day mobile phones. Just don’t be too quick to doubt Apple’s (and recently Google’s) efforts at promoting the feature.

While every other user takes no interest in video-callingр there’s a huge audience that would gladly try it if given the chance. We can easily see that from marketing point of view, adding video calls to a phone makes a lot of sense. We’d have to wait and see if those 22.6% (and impressive 29.3% in the pre-18 age group) will stick to using video-calls when they can or they will just turn their back on it like the rest of us.

Across the different surveyed groups, there isn’t a big difference in regards to video-calls. Europe is where the feature is used the least. Only 1.3% of Europeans use it on a daily basis, while almost 65% never do and have no interest in using it. Interestingly, women make the most video-calls, but they only reach 3.1% in the daily column and another 2.7% on a weekly basis.

Short message service (SMS)

We take another trip across the popularity table and we are back near the top of the charts with SMS. The third most popular application of cell phones globally is doing really well among women – 81% of all female users text daily, while another 17.3% also confess doing it, only less regularly. Ok, that last part may come out wrong if you strip it of context.

Texting is most popular with users in Oceania (all of the surveyed use the feature and a good 87.7% of them do so daily). In fact, it takes the number one spot there beating voice calls by over 10% in the daily usage column. Asians and users aged 18-24 are the other two groups that text more than average.

The only ones that are not as keen on SMS are, expectedly, users of over 50 years of age.

Multimedia message service (MMS)

This next feature is not so much of a has-been as a never-were. Multimedia messages never reached the popularity that carriers probably hoped for and are now among the least used things on a mobile phone.

Despite being so widely available, MMS is used by just 4.9% of all people daily and we have to admit that even that number sounds too high to us.

It’s mostly North Americans that send these messages – one in seven users does so every day and more than one in five each week. Female users are also using MMS fairly regularly, exceeding the average usage more than twice.

MMS is not going to be extinct any time soon though – at least half of respondents admit they use them occasionally.


After a feature in decline, we move to one that’s on a sharp rise. Emailing is still far from the top spots, but it’s already being used daily by more than half of all people. Another 32.8% use it on occasion, which gives an impressive total of 83.9%.

Surprisingly, teenagers send or receive email the least (just 30% daily users and 72.9% of total users). However with those of you over 24 years the daily percentage rises above 60. Understandable, given the importance of email in most jobs nowadays.

We can’t help but be impressed by the number of email users in Oceania and North America .

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