GSMA: Half of the world’s population already owns a smartphone

Image Source: investopedia

Smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives. According to a new report by the GSMA, over half (54%) of the global population, now owns a smartphone. This is around 4.3 billion people, the report claims. The report considers the number of mobile phone owners as of the end of 2022. This is a huge milestone for the mobile industry. It highlights the growing importance of mobile technology in our lives. In addition, the report also states that 57% of the world’s population (4.6 billion people) actively uses the mobile Internet.

Image Source: GSMA

Mobile Internet Users

Breaking down Internet users, nearly 4 billion people access the Internet through smartphones. This is about 49% of the global population. However, there are currently about 600 million people in the world who rely on feature phones. This is around 8% of the global population. In addition, there are 350 million smartphone owners who choose not to use the mobile Internet. At the end of 2022, 69% of smartphones used by mobile Internet users support 4G, 17% support 5G, and 14% are limited to 3G.

Although the mobile Internet base has been growing steadily, the related growth rate has slowed down in 2022. In 2022, there were only 200 million new according to GSMA. This is lower than the 300 million new users that were recorded in both 2021 and 2020.

Most of the growth is coming from low- and middle-income countries. In the least developed countries, nearly 30 million people will have access to mobile internet in 2022. This means that a quarter of the population in low- and middle-income countries is already connected to the Internet.

Image Source: GSMA

It is worth noting that 5% of the world’s population still lacks broadband coverage. This affects nearly 400 million people. The GSMA believes that these “gaps” mainly exist in rural, poor and sparsely populated areas. In addition, the GSMA reports that there are 3.4 billion people in the world who are not connected to the internet. However, nearly 90% of them live in areas that have active internet but have “never used the service.” In this article, we will explore the GSMA and its role in the mobile industry, as well as the findings of the latest report.

What is GSMA?

The GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association) is a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide. It was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in London, UK. The GSMA’s mission is to promote the growth and development of the mobile industry, and it does this by providing a platform for mobile network operators to collaborate and share best practices. The GSMA also conducts research and analysis on the mobile industry and publishes reports on various topics related to mobile technology.

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The Mobile Economy Report

The Mobile Economy Report is one of the most comprehensive reports published by the GSMA. It provides insights into the state of the mobile industry worldwide. It also contains a range of technology, socio-economic, and financial datasets, including forecasts out to 2030. The report is produced by the GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the GSMA. It is published annually at MWC Barcelona, the world’s largest mobile industry event.

The latest edition of the report reveals that there are now 5.9 billion unique mobile subscribers worldwide. This is equivalent to 76% of the world’s population. The report also highlights the following key statistics:

  • The number of 5G connections is expected to reach 5 billion by 2030.
  • The Asia Pacific region is the largest mobile market, with over 2.8 billion unique mobile subscribers.
  • The mobile industry is a significant contributor to the global economy, generating $4.9 trillion in economic value in 2020.
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The Mobile Gender Gap Report

The Mobile Gender Gap Report is another important report published by the GSMA. It focuses on the gender gap in mobile ownership and mobile internet use across low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The latest edition of the report reveals that women are still 7% less likely than men to own a mobile phone. Also, women are 16% less likely to use mobile internet. The report also highlights the following key findings:

  • Smartphones are critical to reducing the gender gap in mobile internet use. Once women own a smartphone, their awareness and use of mobile internet is almost on par with men.
  • The gender gap in smartphone ownership has widened from 16% in 2020 to 18% in 2021, mirroring the stalling progress in closing the mobile internet gender gap.
  • Addressing the mobile gender gap requires a focus on improving handset affordability, literacy, and digital skills.


The GSMA is a vital organization in the mobile industry, and its reports provide valuable insights into the state of the industry worldwide. The latest report reveals that over half of the global population now owns a smartphone, which is a significant milestone for the mobile industry. However, the Mobile Gender Gap Report highlights that there is still work to be done to close the gender gap in mobile ownership and mobile internet use across LMICs. The GSMA’s research and analysis will continue to play a crucial role in shaping the future of the mobile industry and ensuring that mobile technology is accessible to everyone.

GSMA reports that 54% of the global population, about 4.3 billion people, own mobile phones. Also, 57% (4.6 billion) actively use mobile internet, with almost 4 billion accessing it through mobile phones. However, 600 million people still use feature phones, and 350 million smartphone owners abstain from mobile internet. The growth rate, although slower in 2022, continues primarily in low- and middle-income nations. Despite progress, 5% of the world lacks broadband coverage, impacting 400 million individuals, mostly in rural and impoverished regions. Around 3.4 billion people have internet access but have never utilized the service.

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