Survey: Cell-Phone Users Do More Than Talk

A new consumer survey fielded by Sprint Nextel Corp. indicated that more than one-half of its subscribers now regularly use handset features outside of the basic voice connection.

The annual nationwide “Sprint U.S. Consumer Wireless Usage Study” polled 676 customers online in October. It found that non-voice usage is rising, with 56% of those polled saying they use mobile-phone features such as cameras, clocks, calendars, messaging and music.

Among those categories, camera-phone functions scored highest, with 53% of camera-phone owners saying they regularly take photos with their handsets.

When asked about services they might opt to add, about 63% said they would use their wireless phone to retrieve maps and directions, and 55% said they were interested in camera-phone features. About 43% said they wanted Internet access on their cell phones, while 33% indicated that they wanted to play games.

"Whether it's using location-based services to get driving directions, listening to streaming music or watching live TV, consumers are finding that the mobile phone is the one item they depend on most to stay connected and entertained,” Sprint Nextel vice president of product marketing and strategy Jeff Hallock said.

Customers also gave some unusual uses for their mobile handsets. About 4% indicated that they had used the backlight on their phone to replace a cigarette lighter held overhead during a concert.