A day in the life of a smartphone

posted September 14, 2015 at 06:40 pm
by  Ed Biado

I had this bright-slash-stupid idea of documenting my daily phone use for the purpose of finding out how much time I actually am spending tinkering on that screen. It’s a bright idea because there’s so many things I can do with that data. But it’s also stupid because I really think that I’m on my phone more than the average person and monitoring my own usage would be time- and energy-consuming. So here’s my attempt to track a day in the life of my smartphone:


7:35 a.m. – Upon waking up: Check notifications. Reply to new messages on social networking apps and traditional text messages. (3 minutes)


7:55 a.m. – While having coffee: Scroll though Twitter and click on interesting links. Google a new/confusing/interesting tidbit found on one of the clicked links. Scan for new messages. (17 minutes)

8:40 a.m. – After showering, while getting dressed: Play music. Scroll through Instagram, like and comment on interesting posts. Take #aftershower selfies. (3 minutes, excluding the 20-something minutes that music is playing in the background)


9:30 a.m. – Before leaving the house: Refresh Twitter and Instagram. Reply to new messages. Book a GrabCar. Switch from home Wi-Fi to cellular data. (7 minutes)


10:10 a.m. – In the middle of the commute: Take a call (“Yes, I’m on my way!”). Reply to a couple of important texts. (2 minutes)

That’s when I decided to stop tracking and timing my phone use. First of all, I haven’t been able to record every moment that I touched my phone. Picking a phone up to tap and swipe is just such a natural and spontaneous action that I figured that this is an experiment I cannot do alone. From 7:35 to 10:10 a.m., I probably was on my phone about a couple of dozen times.

But the unrecorded instances were actually not memorable because those are the times I spent a minute or less on the phone – to check the time, to just look at the screen for notifications and to look at how much battery power I still had. All told, I think it’s a safe assumption that I spent over 30 minutes of the first three hours of my day on my phone. So just making more assumptions (that my phone use pattern is pretty consistent throughout the day) and doing a bit of math, let’s say that I’m on my phone for two hours and 30 minutes a day. This is how I got there:

My phone use is probably 30 minutes every three hours, as suggested by the data above. I’m awake for about 15 hours a day. That amount of time is five times three hours. So we also have to multiply the 30 minutes by five. Two and a half hours. Using the same formula, I believe that I check my phone at least 120 times a day.

Is that normal? With social media, messaging and all the click baits out there, and the fact that I use my phone for work – calling, texting, emailing, researching, etc. – I think it kind of is. What do you think?


Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @EdBiado

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