Which Activities Do Smartphone Owners Prioritize on Their Devices?

GfK-Daily-Smartphone-Use-by-Activity-Feb2016Adult smartphone users in the US estimate spending as much time texting as talking on their devices, per results from a GfK survey of almost 6,000 adult smartphone users aged 18-64. On average, respondents estimated spending 22% of their daily smartphone time on each of these activities, although separately 2 in 3 agreed that they text more than they talk.

That figure was higher among Millennials (83%), mothers (77%) and parents (73%), the vast majority of whom believe they spend more time texting than talking.

Beyond talking and texting, email (10%) and social media (10%) occupy the next-largest share of smartphone clock, per the report. Web surfing (6%), music (6%), games (6%) and photos (5%) also see a sizable share of daily smartphone usage, with less time devoted to activities such as watching content (2%) and shopping (1%).

Aggregating those various activities into general categories, the report indicates that almost two-thirds (65%) of daily smartphone usage goes to communication (including social media), with 22% to entertainment, 8% to functional activities (such as banking and calendars) and the remainder to photos. GfK notes that the 22% share of time spent on entertainment is on par with the 22% of time spent on texting.

Meanwhile, Hispanics are spending almost twice as much time as the general smartphone user with video and music, per the report. That aligns with MarketingCharts research on media audiences, which finds Hispanic adults particularly drawn to internet radio and online TV.

The GfK findings are interesting in light of a separate report from Fluent [download page]. In its survey of more than 5,000 adult smartphone users, email (25.5%) was the activity that the largest share of respondents said they use their smartphone for the most. Social (19.8%) and gaming (19.1%) were next on the list, with few (3.1%) tabbing voice as their most-used activity. (Texting was not an option on this survey.)

The Fluent study uncovered some interesting demographic differences in the results. Women were considerably more likely than men to say that they use their smartphone most for social (23% vs. 16.5%), while men were far more likely to tab gaming as their primary activity (24.6% vs. 13.9%). There were also some strong age-related differences, with email being more commonly cited by older respondents and social media by younger respondents.

Separately, while shopping is not considered to be a major time-hog, both reports note that a sizable share of smartphone owners are using their devices for shopping. In the GfK study, a slight majority (52%) reported having used their smartphone to make a purchase in the prior 30 days. That figure was highest among Millennials (18-34; 62%), followed by Gen Xers (35-49; 54%), with Boomers trailing (50-64; 39%).

The Fluent study found a lower rate of smartphone purchasing, with 37% of respondents having made a purchase in 2015 using their smartphone. That figure was again highest among Millennials (close to 41%), dropping to 30.8% among those aged 55 and older. Increased speed was the top motivator for more shopping on mobile devices for both men and women, followed by easier navigation for men and enhanced security for women. In terms of age groups, increased speed was more important to younger groups, while enhanced security was more commonly cited by older respondents.

In other findings from the GfK report:

  • Text and email are the top-2 activities that smartphone users engage in on their devices first in the morning, with text first for Millennials and Boomers and second for Gen Xers;
  • Facebook, weather and calendar round out the top 5 apps used first in the morning across generations, though not necessarily in that order;
  • Almost 6 in 10 respondents are aware of wearable tech, with 24% owning some form of wearable tech and 8% intending to buy wearables in the next 6 months.

About the Data: The GfK survey was conducted from 9/12-11/13/15 with 5,950 respondents. Fluent’s survey was conducted on January 13, 2016 among 5,240 adults aged 18 and older.