/ Technology

Are you a mobile texter or talker?

Mobile texting

The average mobile phone user writes the equivalent of the epic novel War and Peace every five and a half years, or so says Which? Mobile. Is that at the cost of a proper conversation?

So according to Which? research, 15% of pay monthly mobile users send more than 20 texts a day. That’s at least 600 a month.

At an average of 160 characters per text, that means that these heavy texters could write the equivalent of Shakespeare’s Complete Works in just over four years.

That’s an RSI-inducing stat, but I can’t say I’m overly surprised. It’s tough to find a mobile deal these days with fewer than 250 inclusive texts, and 500+ seems to be standard.

Operators tend to be far more generous with their text allowances than their call allowances, so perhaps mobile users are responding by sending more texts – which in turn could encourage operators to up their limits. A bit of a chicken and egg scenario?

The convenience of texting

Which? Mobile’s research prompted me to consider how my own phone usage has changed over time. I didn’t even own a mobile till after I left university, so when I wanted to speak to someone I had to pick up the landline and do just that.

When I finally got a mobile, calling remained my preferred communication method. Predictive texting was a pipe dream, making text composition a laborious letter-by-letter process. And I recall issues that made it hit and miss as to whether my recipient would ever get my message.

Now, on my much-loved iPhone, texting couldn’t be easier – I can even see the entire conversation history thanks to ‘threaded’ messaging. Smartphones offer even more options for non-verbal communication, thanks to easy access to email and instant messaging services like MSN messenger.

My calling habits have suffered as a result, bar the weekly call back to the folks and occasional chats with friends. Perhaps if I’m waiting for a late friend to turn up I might give them a buzz to find out what’s going on, but that’s usually only after I’ve had no response from a text.

Is texting always best?

One could argue that texting has made all our lives easier. It’s quick and convenient, and a text is cheaper than a call minute.

But I wonder whether the price of our textuality is the ‘human’ touch. There are always times when only a call will do – I don’t think my folks would appreciate a weekly text. And sometimes a text is best – perhaps when you’re running late and a call would only delay you still further.

Yet, in my experience there are a lot of grey zones, when I could opt for one or the other, and tend to go for a text. And the odd thing is, I’m not really sure why. Perhaps I should err on the side of calling more often.

Has your phone usage changed over time? Are you a heavy texter, one of life’s natural natterers – or somewhere in between?

(I was going to check my bill to give you some actual stats on my text vs call mobile usage, but sadly my online billing function is down. Maybe I should give my provider a call…)

Are you more likely to text or call on your mobile phone?

Text (50%, 158 Votes)

Call (44%, 137 Votes)

I don't have a mobile (6%, 19 Votes)

Total Voters: 314

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pickle says:
2 June 2011

Being stone deaf, texting is a no-brainer. Chosing a mobile with a proper keyboard makes things much easier. I also helps to keep conversations short – and is cheaper.

Hate the fiddly keys on mobiles, being a bloke with size 8 hands, I hate the multiple keypress nature of texting. hate predicative text because its always wrong and when if texted, theres always a to and fro of multiple questions and answers, its quicker and easier just to use voice and get the message done in a fraction of the time.

Texting is for non-literate teenagers and excellent for asynchronous messages, like the shopping list or details of when the family will be home. Only!

I agree with Chris about fiddly keys, multiple key presses and predictive text, though the latter can be switched off. I far prefer to communicate by phoning people or sending an email.

Can anyone recommend a cheap or free email to text service? I would not mind sending text messages providing I can use a keyboard to compose them.

We’ll be talking about this on the podcast, available Wednesday

that’s better. As I said, this is a subject you might want to contribute to for the podcast. Me – I love a text argument. Tx inslts r gr8!

Being over 60% deaf in each ear texting is an absolutely essential method of communication for me, could not cope without it.