Mobility research in the age of the smartphone

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92 Scopus citations


At the end of 2014, over 93 percent of the world’s population owned cellular phones, with penetration rates that exceeded 100 percent in most developed countries. Mobile phones have become an integral part of our lives and have had a significant impact on society—including on individuals’ daily movement and mobility patterns. Cellular phones have also been used for research and have been employed to collect time–space data about the mobility of relatively large populations. In this article, we provide a comprehensive review of the potential of advanced mobile phones—known as smartphones—in the investigation of the geographies of mobility. We discuss how these devices can be employed in research, tracking individuals in time and space and functioning as location-aware survey tools in real time, among other things. We also engage in a debate over the advantages, disadvantages, and limitations of smartphones in this context and highlight new research trends that are beginning to appear following the introduction of smartphones.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)283-291
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by American Association of Geographers.


  • GPS
  • Mobile sensing
  • Sensors
  • Smartphone
  • Tracking


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