The Rise
of the Mobile Phones

A colleague of mine owns 4.00 mobile phones I know of and probably more I don't know of. This led to the question whether there are more phones than people and if so, where and when the phones have taken over. I compiled the data of selected countries to show the development of the number of mobile phones per people between the years 2000 and 2017.

Mobile phones are defined by devices that offer voice communication and are subscribed to a public mobile telephone service that provide access to the public switched telephone network using cellular technology. Please be advised that the quality of the data varies among countries as a result of differences in regulations covering data provision and availability.

Reading the chart. The chart shows the number of mobile phones per people (y-axis) between the years 2000 and 2017 (x-axis). For example, in China there are 1.04 mobile phones per people in the year 2017 (data set: 1.474 billion mobiles phones, 1.409 billion population). Israel is the first country to surpass the 1-phone-per-people marker in the year 2002 (data set: 6.3 million mobile phones, 6.2 million population) while the United States of America surpasses the marker in the year 2014 (data set: 355.5 million mobile phones, 317.7 million population).

North Korea: 2017 data is not available.

Data source population: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017).

Data source mobile phones: The World Bank Group, International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication/ICT Development report and database.

I own 1.00 mobile phone.