How Many Texts Do People Send Every Day (2018)?
If all you care about is the exact number of texts people send every day, keep scrolling. Key figures and notes are highlighted, and there's detailed infographic at the bottom of this page. But there's more to the story.
How Many Texts Do People Send Every Day? has been one of our best performing pages. Clearly it’s a topic people care about.
We originally published it in May 2016, but I’m giving it an update, because so much has changed between then and now (November 2018). Below I’ll cover:
- How texting fits into the current mobile, tech, and digital landscapes
- A recap of figures from our 2016 article
- How many texts people send in 2018
- And what all this means for average people like you and me, as well as for businesses trying to find a competitive edge
Ready? Okay, let’s do this.
How does texting fit into everything else these days?
Text messaging is almost 26 years old, and - like the internet - it’s ubiquitous. People text every day for a hundred reasons, and you’ll often see people texting multiple times a day.
Text messaging is also useful. No less than 80% of professionals say they text for business purposes. For them it’s a tool to schedule meetings, flush out ideas, and get work done.
Friends text to keep up with each other and coordinate events. Parents do it to reach their kids who barely answer calls. Brands text to share information and send reminders.
Texting has been the most popular way to communicate for years, and 89% of consumers recently said they want to text with businesses (typically for sales, service, and appointments).
Texting has been such a hit, in fact, that almost any app you open on your phone has a messaging feature.
Why do people text so much?
Texting’s quick, it’s easy. You can send a million messages because every major carrier has an unlimited messaging plan. And if you don’t want to use data, you can send SMS messages instead of app-based messages (I’ll cover the difference in a bit).
In the end, people tend to enjoy typing instead of talking. It’s also easier to reach most people through text, since only 20% of people (more or less) answer calls they aren’t expecting, while texts are read within five seconds on average.
How many texts did people used to send?
A lot of readers will find this article because it’s linked to in some other website. I want to make sure those readers find what they’re looking for, so here’s a quick recap of the numbers from about 2012-2015. Today’s figures are in the next section.
The numbers of texts sent every day were based mostly on two reports, one by Experian and one by Statistic Brain. Experian’s showed the number of monthly texts sent by age group in America. Statistic Brain’s gave the total number of texts sent for the U.S. in a month.
Then I took cell phone usage data from Pew Research Center to piece together per-capita and total sent numbers. So how many texts did people send every day?
- 18-24 y.o. sent and received about 128 text messages per day
- 25-34 y.o. sent and received about 75 text messages per day
- 35-44 y.o. sent and received about 52 text messages per day
- 45-54 y.o. sent and received about 33 text messages per day
- 55+ y.o. sent and received about 16 text messages per day
On average in 2014, American adults sent and received an estimated 32 texts per day. Later on I found a report by Informate that gave similar numbers.
With about 250 million adults in the U.S., the number of texts sent totaled about 18 billion every day, 541 billion every month, and 6.5 trillion per year.
On average, American adults sent and received 32 texts per day, totaling 18 billion texts every day, 541 billion texts every month, and 6.5 trillion texts every year.
Two limitations to this research are:
- Accurate SMS usage data is hard to get from mobile carriers
- This doesn’t include app-to-app messages like iMessages or those sent through WhatsApp, Messenger, and other apps
So that’s what people were doing. What are they doing now? Are we texting more, or less?
How many texts do people send per day in 2018?
Most texts are now sent through messaging apps like iPhone’s Messages, Android’s Messages, WhatsApp, Facebook’s Messenger, etc. Dozens of these are being used every day, and their metrics are often kept secret.
This is a big change from just a few years ago, when people still primarily sent SMS messages through only a few major carriers. What’s the difference?
In short, app messages are sent via WiFi, while SMS (which stands for Short Messaging System) messages are sent via cellular signals. They're both going through radio waves, just different frequencies.
That’s why they’re tracked and reported differently, and that’s why I’m going to first break down the number of texts sent by app.
iMessages are texts sent through Apple’s standard iOS messaging app, Messages. Technically, iMessages are different than SMS messages, but sometimes they get counted together.
It’s not easy to tell exactly how many iMessages are sent, particularly in the U.S. People use iPhones all over the world, and what information Apple does give us about their text volume is often vague. That said, here’s what’s been reported.
In 2014, Tim Cook said that Apple handles “about 40 billion iMessage notifications per day” worldwide. In 2016, Apple’s Eddy Cue said they handled about 200,000 messages per second at peak rates. In December of 2016, Fortune estimated that 750 million iPhones were in use.
PC: Stat Counter
This is not a perfect number, but if you say 750 million users were sending 40 billion messages, then iPhone users send and receive just over 53 messages per day, on average, worldwide. How that breaks down by age and country, I don’t know. I’d imagine younger users send more than older users, but I don’t have the numbers to back that up.
Worldwide, iPhone users send and receive about 53 messages per day, on average.
Android controls just over 50% of the worldwide smartphone market, compared to iOS’s 49%. So, if every smartphone user is equal, then Android ought to also be processing about 40 billion text messages per day, bringing our total number of app messages to 80 billion texts per day, worldwide.
But is that all?
WhatsApp is a hugely popular messaging app that lets you send messages internationally to other users on the app (without paying international rates). Facebook bought the company in 2014, and most recently reported that more than 65 billion messages are sent every day through WhatsApp.
That’s about 1.95 trillion WhatsApp messages sent every month and 23.5 trillion WhatsApp messages sent every year.
The thing is, that volume is split between its 1 billion or more daily users across the world. On the surface, it looks like the average WhatsApp user sends or receives 65 messages a day globally. We won’t know the rates in the U.S. specifically until they tell us.
That brings our total worldwide text count to approximately 145 billion per day.
Facebook Messenger Messages
The last reported numbers I can find for Facebook’s own messaging platform, Messenger, come from 2016, when they said that Messenger and WhatsApp combined for over 60 billion messages per day.
Since WhatsApp is responsible for so many of those messages, is seems that few messages are sent per person per day on Messenger.
Let’s say we’re still at about 145 billion messages per day, worldwide.
The number of SMS messages sent has been decreasing slowly as Rich Communication Services (RCS) and other messaging platforms have grown. Still, the number of SMS text messages sent every day is impressive.
According to Statistic Brain, 781 billion text messages are sent every month in the United States as of June 2017. That’s more than 26 billion texts a day, and more than 9.3 trillion texts a year coming out of the U.S.
(The numbers line up across reports, but this report does not explicitly say whether all of these are SMS, if MMS messages are also included, or if any app-to-app messages are counted here.)
PC: Statistic Brain
Pew Research Center found that 95% of American adults own a cell phone, while 95% of teenagers 13-17 years old have or have access to a smartphone. (I can’t find an updated number on how many teens explicitly own a phone).
That gives us about 277 million American adults and teenagers who can text. That means - roughly - that Americans send and receive an average 2,819 text messages per month.
That’s 94 text messages per day, or 33,834 text messages per year.
On average, Americans send and receive about 94 text messages per day.
That’s a lot of texts! But every single person isn’t going through that many texts per day. The high-volume users - like chatty teens and hyperconnected adults - make up the bulk of this usage.
That much is evident from Pew’s 2015 report of teen social media usage, where they found teens 13-17 go through 67 texts per day, on average, but the median (typical) teen went through only 30 messages.
In other words, there are extremely high volume texters bringing these numbers up.
What’s missing from these numbers?
Consistency. Most reports share different numbers. For instance, Domo reports that 561 billion texts are sent every month in 2018, but that’s the same number that Statistic Brain reported in 2014.
Until there’s more data transparency, it’s difficult to say for sure what’s happening. The only clear result is that more people are using their cell phones - smartphones in particular - for more things every day. And messaging happens to be the dominant feature used.
What do these numbers mean?
They mean people are still texting more and more, in one form or another. In fact, for the first time, even teenagers say texting is their most preferred way to communicate (35%), compared to the old winner of in-person (32%). For adults, texting has been #1 for at least six years.
As a consumer, you can use these numbers to reflect on your behaviors. Are you happy with how much you use your phone?
As a business, you should look at how often people are texting, and ask how your business can start texting with customers, too.