Pakistan ranks 10th globally in mobile usage

Pakistan ranks 10th globally in hours spent on mobile (Android), with Pakistanis spending a total of 99 billion hours on their mobile phones in 2023

By Aimen Siddiqui
April 19, 2024
A person using a smartphone during night. — X/malwarebyteslabs

KARACHI: Pakistan ranks 10th globally in hours spent on mobile (Android), with Pakistanis spending a total of 99 billion hours on their mobile phones in 2023.


According to the State of Apps report for Pakistan, published by Data Darbar in collaboration with Emirati premium streaming platform Begin, Pakistan had 124 million broadband subscribers in 2023, and the average monthly data usage of a single user stood at 7.5GB. Pakistan saw an almost-unchanged number of app downloads -- 3.51 billion -- throughout the year.

Over the last few years, Pakistan has posed itself as one of the fastest-growing app markets. In 2022, its growth rate jumped by almost 35 per cent (from 2.61 billion downloads in 2021 to 3.52 billion downloads in 2022). However, in 2023, the market remained almost flat (a dip of 0.3 per cent). The report says that the slowdown is “in line with the global trend where worldwide downloads only edged up 0.8 per cent to 257 billion in 2023, from 255 billion the year before.â€

In his comment to The News, Chief Operating Officer of software firm AlphaRages Pvt Ltd Faisal Farooq says, “With increased digital literacy, people are now using apps of all kinds more than ever. From games and food delivery services to financial management, the app industry is booming with record downloads. This presents a significant opportunity for app developers and publishers to innovate and capitalize on the growing demand for digital services.â€

According to the report, video-streaming platform TikTok emerged as the most downloaded app in Pakistan in 2023. The app saw 31.8 million downloads. WhatsApp came second with 23.9 million downloads; Facebook, WhatsApp and CapCut stood third (23.4 million downloads), fourth (22.8 million downloads) and fifth (20.6 million downloads), respectively. Games made up over a third of downloads. Thirty-six per cent of all Pakistani downloads were games.

The report also adds that “broadband penetration marched upwards to 53.6 per cent in FY23, up from 51 per cent the year before. The entire growth here is led by 4G, where subscriptions surged by 12.5 million, more than negating the 3.8 million decline contributed by 3G.†However, the report continues, “In a worrying sign, the total cellular subscriptions in Pakistan fell annually to close FY23 at 190.9 million, down 1.9 per cent from 194.6 million. This is the first instance of decline in at least six years, and possibly on record.â€

In the press release released by Data Darbar, Chief Commercial Officer of Begin Jonathan Mark says, “The rise of streaming and finance apps in Pakistan underscores the underlying shift towards mobile for the delivery of not only entertainment but also banking services.

As consumers become more tech-savvy and their demand for digital services increases, we expect to see further growth and innovation in these and other app categories.â€

Pakistani developers, however, have so far failed to tap into the potential the app market holds. A little over 4,800 apps were released by them in 2023, an 11.4 per cent decrease as compared to the previous year. Locally developed games, however, saw a slight uptick after four years of decline.

App developer Vyro AI topped the most downloaded local apps chart. Its apps – Photoshot, Remove It–Remove Objects, and Imagine–AI Art Generator – were in the top three. Easypaisa became the fourth most downloaded local app with a total of 12 million downloads. Tamasha came fifth with 11.9 million downloads.

SuperVPN was the second-most downloaded tools (utility and productivity) app with downloads of more than eight million, a 6.2 per cent increase as compared to the last year. JazzApp stood out among business apps. The number of downloads of this personal account management and lifestyle app stood at close to 10 million, depicting a 16.8 per cent increase on a year-on-year basis.

An interesting entrant in the business apps category was ‘Cryptomania’, a simulator game that lets you practice crypto trading without risking real money. The app became the third-most downloaded business app with over 2.5 million downloads – a 90.2 per cent increase as compared to 2022.

The effects of hyperinflation in Pakistan can be seen in the number of shopping apps downloaded by Pakistanis. The report says, “For Pakistan, [2023] was a year of record inflation, steep currency devaluation and overall uncertainty. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that cumulative downloads of the top five shopping apps [Daraz, Olx,, Markaz, and Ali Express] declined, singularly thanks to the 56.9 per cent plunge in Alibaba.

However, globally, the downloads in the genre edged up by a modest 0.5 per cent to 6.26 billion in 2023.