15 Mobile UX Facts & Insights (2018)

Jeff Sauro, PhD

15 Mobile UX Facts & Insights (2018)Mobile technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace.

To help keep up, we pulled together relevant insights about the mobile user experience and mobile usage in general.

This is an updated article to the 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2013 articles based on published data and our own mobile UX research.

  1. Cellphones are ubiquitous. A Pew Research report suggests that 95% of Americans own a cellphone; around 77% of U.S. adults own a smartphone, which is up from 68% from 2016’s report. Smartphone ownership rate is highest in South Korea (88%) and lowest in Ethiopia (4%). This rate also varies by age, with 92% of millennials (ages 22–37) owning a smartphone. But people of all ages are using smartphones more, including 42% of those 65+ (up from 18% in 2013).
  2. Smartphone ownership rates in emerging and developing nations continue to rise at an extraordinary rate, climbing from around 21% in 2013 to 37% in 2015. There continues to be a gender gap, with more men than women reporting smartphone ownership and Internet access across many nations. Smartphone users hit 2 billion worldwide in 2017.
  3. Desktop still has a slight edge over mobile in U.S. ownership, but usage now favors mobile. Tablet ownership holds steady. Of U.S. traffic, 63% is now mobile and is predicted to reach two-thirds by the end of 2018. Both tablets and smartphones are used in the same activities, with watching videos, accessing email, and using social media being the most popular.
  4. Usage habits vary based on deviceDevices with large screens, like laptops and desktops, are used only a few times a day for 25 or 30 minutes each session, but devices with small screens are used 80+ times a day, often for less than a minute each session.
  5. Android is used more than iOS and now Windows too. Android is dominant in the U.S. with around 67% market share (up 3% from last year’s report) and its share is even more dominant worldwide, with a 1% increase over 2017 to 86%.
  6. On average, around 40 apps are used per month. People in the U.S. spend about 150 minutes in apps each day, an increase of 30% over 2015. If you think younger people spend too much time on their phones, there’s data to support this. Those aged 18-24 spend about twice as much time on their phones versus those over age 65+ (3.2 vs 1.6 hours/day).
  7. Mobile applications are predominantly used for killing time, but a large percentage of online shopping now happen on mobile phones. Mobile commerce in the U.S. reached $156 billion in 2017 and is expected to surpass $330 billion in 2020.
  8. Around 69% of U.S. adults, including 88% of those aged 18–29, use social media. As of May 2018, the most popular social networking app in the U.S. (based on the number of mobile users each month) is Facebook (164 million mobile users, up from 114 million in May 2017). Instagram has exploded in popularity, with a current 111 million users (from 56 million). Facebook Messenger holds steady at 105 million users.
  9. About half of app time is spent on a single app, and the top three apps account for slightly less than 80% of app time. These numbers have not significantly changed from 2015 despite the increased number of apps installed on smartphones.
  10. Americans struggle with taking breaks from their phones. Even people on vacation use their phones around 80 times each day; millennials check their phones 150 times of day, and 10% of people admit to checking their phones 300 times a day. 69% of the digital time is spent on mobile, versus 31% on desktop.
  11. Mobile delays are worse than standing in line and are considered more stressful than watching horror movies! A slow-loading webpage or video increases users’ heart rates by an average of 38%.
  12. American users spent over 14 billion minutes on digital-first shopping apps in 2017, up 44% from 2016. Mobile commerce is expected to continue growing, and retailers now focus primarily on their mobile experience, with desktop being secondary. Users’ time spent on smartphones continues to increase (especially around the holidays), but people still prefer shopping on mobile websites to apps for most stores. Apps overall account for over 80% of the mobile time.
  13. About 77% of shoppers (up from 72% in 2016) research an item in the store on mobile before making a purchase. Shopping on social media is a growing trend, with 28% of Internet users using social media to find and buy products. Most (72%) smartphone shoppers research an item before they make a purchase, including those who check item prices (70%) and those who locate a store to make their desired product purchase (60%).
  14. Conversion rates from tablets are still higher than smartphones, but smartphones may be catching up: In one study, 64% of 2017 Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales were made on smartphones, 10% higher than the previous year. Mobile wallets are still unpopular in the U.S. but are expected to reach $128 billion of sales in 2021.
  15. 20% of Americans rely exclusively on their smartphones to connect to the Internet while at home, up from 13% in 2015. Those with less income and education are more likely to be smartphone-only Internet users. Additionally, 15% of Americans have neither a smartphone nor broadband at home.
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