The shift to expanded telework during the pandemic is revealing new app winners and losers. In addition, demographics have a surprising impact on consumers’ communications behavior.

GWS’s consumer research survey is a thorough examination of consumer communication habits, including behavioral shifts during COVID-19, consumer satisfaction with their wireless carriers and mobile devices, and variances based on demographics such as location (urban, suburban, and rural) and age group. The data shows a dynamic story of the products and technologies that Americans are turning to during the pandemic, as well as rapidly evolving priorities and preferences shaped by more time living, working and communicating from home.

The following are key takeaways from GWS’s survey of 5,000 U.S. smartphone users.

Most video calling and conferencing applications see usage rise during the pandemic but...

Zoom was the top choice among video calling and conferencing tools during the COVID-19 stay-at-home mandate – most popular and most widely used.

Favorite video calling and conferencing apps
(top three choices):

1st: Zoom – selected by 24% of respondents

2nd: Facebook Messenger - 21%

3rd: Apple FaceTime - 18%

Favorite video calling and conferencing app by age:

Younger respondents ages 18-24: Apple FaceTime top choice

Older age groups (35+): Zoom and Facebook Messenger tied for top choice.

mobile phone voice

While video calling and conferencing usage surged, voice calling still reigned supreme

When asked which one mobile phone capability consumers would keep for at home telework the top choice was voice:

1st: Voice calling - 33%

2nd: Texting - 28%

3rd: Video calling and conferencing - 20%

4th: Emailing - 15%

5th: Team collaboration (for example, Slack) - 4%.

mobile phone office

Consumers remain attached at the hip…and fingers…to their smartphones

If consumers could only keep one product or service during the COVID-19 stay-at-home mandate, their top choice was their smartphone (based on % of respondents selecting a certain product/service):

1st: Smartphone - 45%

2nd: PC - 19%

3rd: Streaming service (like Netflix) - 12%

4th: TV - 10%

5th: Car - 7%

6th: Tablet - 4%

7th: Alcohol - 2%


Consumers not only rely heavily on their smartphone during the pandemic, but most are sticking with their current mobile devices

  • 72% of consumers have not purchased a new smartphone yet this year, and of this group half said the reason why is that they are satisfied with their current device.
  • Going forward, 38% of consumers plan to buy a smartphone in the second half of 2020, 26% plan to do so in 2021 and 11% in 2022 or later.

Behind every successful smartphone is a strong carrier

Consumers are generally content with carrier overall performance:

84% of survey respondents said that their carrier has met their mobile communications needs in terms of wireless performance ‘always’ or ‘most of the time.’

Carrier performances are still given high marks when looking at specific needs:

When needs are further broken down by network coverage, voice calling quality and reliability, and data throughput and reliability, 80% or more of the respondents felt that their carrier met each of these needs most or all of the time.

Stick with or switch carriers – depends on where you live:

When given the option to stay with their current operator or switch to a new one:

Rural and Suburban: 76% of rural and 76% of suburban survey respondents would keep their current operator because it offered the services and/or devices they want

Urban: 51% of urban respondents would stick with their current operator for the same reasons.


Wireless carriers delivering on what matters most to consumers

Strong consumer satisfaction suggests that carriers are delivering on capabilities most important to their subscribers. In fact, the three most important factors for consumers when selecting a carrier are network coverage, reliability, and network speed:

Survey methodology

All survey figures, unless stated otherwise, are from a study commissioned by GWS and conducted by Toluna. Total sample size was over 5,000 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between June 16th and July 3rd, 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of Americans (aged 18+).


About Global Wireless Solutions, Inc.

For most consumers today, their mobile device is their life’s remote control. As an independent mobile insights consulting firm, GWS measures every aspect of how people live, work and play via their mobile devices – as well as how mobile network performance affects them.

Combining our market-leading network benchmarking technology and methodology with deep behavioral data, we help businesses and organizations to drive innovation and deliver better customer experiences through mobile insights, anywhere in the world. Championing the needs of mobile users by understanding and testing the things that matter to them, we’ve evolved our technology and services in step with the needs of industry and consumers for over 25 years. For more information visit

  • GWS defines the industry standard for wireless network benchmarking. We offer network data and engineering analysis through a suite of benchmarking services.