By Taylor Martin | September 16, 2013 3:09 PM
Very few of us would ever be comfortable leaving our phone behind for any length of time, much less go one whole day or week without it.
Smartphones are useful in many ways to all of us, and for most of us, they are an integral part of our lives. Smartphones have changed how we check the weather, keep up with our favorite sports teams, research information, communicate, consume media, and so much more.
We stress about battery life and what might happen if our phone dies halfway through the day. And we obsess over new hardware, software, and features that will revolutionize the way we live, the way we communicate, or the way we interface with our mobile devices.
These pocket computers have effectively become an extension of our body and mind. They unlock all sorts of possibilities that weren’t feasible just a half decade ago.
It makes perfect sense that we want to carry them with us at all times and never have to go a waking moment without a smartphone ever again (save for the periodic need for a disconnect, of course). Yet when I’m out with friends and family, such as I was most of this past weekend, I can’t help but wonder how much we actually use our phones.
It never fails. When I’m out with a group of people, we sit down at a table for a meal and all the phones come out. If we go to the movies, the gap between sitting down and the beginning of the upcoming movie teasers is filled with tweeting, texting, etc. Or when we’re at a bar or the US National Whitewater Center lounging on Thursday nights (a common occurrence for us of late), their eyes are glued to their phones for a hefty portion of time we’re out.
Rarely is it everyone at once. But periodically, someone will drop out of the conversation and disappear into a silent, dead stare at their phone. Minutes later, they rejoin and someone else drops out. It’s as if we have a planned, unspoken rotation that we adhere to every time.
And it’s things like these that make me wonder how differently my usage varies from the next.
I know, personally, when I’m around other people, my phones generally stay pocketed, unless someone inquires about which phones I’m carrying or I’m responding to something, which usually takes no more than 30 seconds.
I spend enough of my work life playing and tinkering with phones that I tend to severely cut back my usage outside normal work hours. And outside the normal grind of reviewing phones, my usage is notably lighter, because I’m not benchmarking, playing games, and pushing the phone to its limits.
A normal day consists of checking the Pebble on my wrist when it buzzes to only answer the pertinent and time-sensitive notifications. I break out Google Now if I need to look something up – like a new place to visit, movie times, or even sundown time (which proved very useful for planning a late even trip to the disc golf course perfectly on Saturday). I take a handful of pictures every day, usually of things I want to share to Instagram, Twitter, or Google+. And, collectively, I spend no more than 15 to 20 minutes on all of the social media accounts on my phones each day.
The most time-consuming thing I typically do with my phone is read RSS feeds and watch and associated videos. Even with all these things accounted for, the screen-on time on my Android phones rarely exceeds two hours. It’s typically only around an hour to an hour and a half. But that doesn’t include the 30 minutes or more I spend streaming music while I drive to the office each day, or the hour or two I spend using my phone to control Chromecast at night when I’m catching up on some TV shows.
Back when I was a BlackBerry addict, I used an application called I love BlackBerry, which counted the seconds I used my phone throughout the day. I checked my phone upwards of 200 times per day for a total usage time of well over six hours … each day. Now I check my phone far less and use it in tiny bursts throughout the day – two minutes here, 30 seconds there, five minutes, and so on.
At the very most, out of a 24 hour period, I would estimate my average usage – if you include streaming with the screen off – to be about two hours. An absolute maximum of four hours is fair as well.
But I’m always reading about three and four-hour screen-on times from various Android users in forums. And I can’t help but wonder what they’re doing with their phone for so long. I can’t wrap my head around that sort of usage. My attention span is admittedly shorter than it used to be, and I get bored by staring at my phone for any length of time.
So tell us, readers. How much time do you spend actually using your smartphone each and every day? One hour? Two hours? More?