Top Cell Phone Activity In 2013? Texting, Then Internet, Email & Apps

Our phones may be smarter than ever, but the most popular activity most Americans use them for is pretty simple — to send SMS messages. That tops the list of cell phone activities for 2013, according to a new study released by Pew Internet.

The study, conducted in April and May of this year and involving over 2,000 adults, asked about various activities. Texting topped the list, followed by accessing the internet, doing email, downloading apps, getting directions and more. The full list:

  • 81% of cell phone owners text
  • 60% of cell phone owners use the internet
  • 52% do email
  • 50% download apps
  • 49% get directions, recommendations, or some other type of location-based information
  • 48% listen to music
  • 21% do video calls or chat
  • 8% “check in” or share their location

Virtually all the activities have been trending up over time. Music hasn’t, simply because there’s no trend data available for music yet. Check-in services are the notable exception posting a drop:


Related Topics: Channel: Mobile Marketing | Features & Analysis | Statistics: Mobile Marketing | Statistics: Popularity & Usage


About The Author: is Founding Editor of Marketing Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search marketing and internet marketing issues, who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • DennisG

    “The study, conducted in April and May of this year and involving over 2,000 adults,”

    This is where the study might have gone wrong. If you really want to know how cell phones, or better smart phones, are going to be used in the future, don’t ask adults!

    If you understand that the growth of Snapchat is happening within the 13-16 years old bracket, you would be able to make a better prediction on how the cell phone will be used in the future. (sorry, I don’t have a source for this, but it might have been Marry Meeker’s slides)

    Furthermore, do you know if the messaging would include services like Whatsapp?

  • apfwebs

    Just curious, there, Danny. How does regular phone activity rank in there. You know, like, “calling” a human, exchanging noises audibly for awhile, one each using a “phone” (albeit smart). An activity, no? I don’t see it included, inasmuch as it may not be one of those new-fangled video calls that’re all the rage.

  • Albin

    Have to say, the only reason I traded my very good old Nokia phone for a smartphone was to get a QWERTY keyboard for texting, instead of using the clunky ten-key phone dial letters. Once I got the new thing, I joined the 50% or so doing the other stuff. Also have to say, once you get into using other features, they become a habit.

  • GeoTel

    It would also be helpful to know what service plan most cell phone users have: , few MB, 1G, 2G, unlimited. I think the size of plan has a direct correlation between use. If you are on a small plan, you are going to keep your activity to texting/occasional Internet search but if you are on a large plan, you don’t mind streaming video/music or using GPS mapping services.

  • Chris

    I thought the same thing. If making a “phone call” is actually not on this list that would be ironic. Maybe change the name to Smart Device instead of phone?

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