The Real Usage Habits of Smartphone and Tablet Owners

A breakdown of how smartphones and tablets are actually used.

By on May 16, 2013

To some, the smartphone and tablet might seem like interchangeable devices. Both allow you to watch video, surf the web and check email, but according to comScore, how people use each device remains very different.

When using a smartphone, the top activities are communication- and task-oriented, such as sending text messages, social networking, snapping photos and checking email. These activities may seem typical, but here’s one that might surprise, Flurry found that almost 90 percent of time spent reading e-books is done on smartphones rather than tablets.

Tablet users spend more time using their devices for media and entertainment, including games, movies and news. For both types of devices, games are the most popular category, with 67 percent of the time spent on tablets and 39 percent of time spent on smartphones devoted to gaming.

Time spent shopping using a mobile device continues to grow, but differences remain between how smartphones and tablets are used when searching for bargains. Flash deal sites and limited-time deals have helped spur the use of smartphones and tablets for shopping. However, tablets are the more dominant devices for shopping. This year, U.S. consumers will spend $24 billion shopping on their tablets compared to $13.44 billion on their smartphones. More expensive items are more likely to be purchased from tablets because people prefer the larger screen size..

The second screen trend is popular with both types of devices. However, the use of smartphones while watching TV is often unrelated to what’s being watched, while tablet usage is more closely correlated with what’s on screen. Tablets see a greater spike of usage during primetime TV hours, while smartphone usage is more evenly distributed throughout the day. This also reinforces that tablets are used more for leisure and entertainment activities and used alongside, or instead of, television viewing than smartphones. 

Regardless of activity, it’s apparent that the impact of both tablets and smartphones continues to grow.