Mobile User Behavior Analytics - How do They Use Mobile Phones?

TMO GroupNovember 17, 2014
Mobile User Behavior Analytics - How do They Use Mobile Phones?

As an eCommerce developers,  we are all concerned about how to meet our customers' needs. One thing we should take into consideration is the mobile users behavior. When we design a mobile website or mobile app, the mobile design directly affects the user experience.

Don't be very confident that you totally know how to optimize for mobile. Actually, mobiles are not like desktops. People can use them everywhere at any time. For example, stand on a bus, walk in the street or lay on the bed. Do you know how they use their mobile devices? Single hand or both can make it easier to touch the screen and type letters? We can find many reference materials or discussions about mobile user behaviors. Some cases they make a wrong assumption. For example, they assume that all people use their mobile devices in single hand, at least for iphone. But from my point of view, according to real life, their behaviors are always beyond our imagination.

There were some statistics or investigations before. But most of them are out of date, including some mobile keyboards or small touch-screen. As a result, let's see together the latest mobile user behavior analysis.

Modern mobile makes it different

The creation of the touch-screen changed almost everything. Now, for most intelligent mobile phones, the touch-screen almost occupies the whole front area. So if we want to do some user behavior tests, we'd better based on the most popular styles of the mobile phone. The new investigation covers 1300 people in order to test how they use their mobile phone to have an interaction. 788 of them used touch-screen to type letters. Others are only listening or speaking. Above all, the experiment assumes that everyone has one mobile device, and some people are not using mobile phones while we are seeing them. These people are excluded.

How do they handle their mobile devices

In our observation, about 40% of them don't type letters for interaction. 22% of them are having a phone call. 18.9% of them are listening musics of watch videos. There are three kind of ways to handle their mobile phones for the rest.:

  • Single hand: 49%
  • One hand assist another: 36%
  • Both: 15%

Handle mobile phone


Although few of them use both of their hands, it still has more than a hundred people use it. So this circumstance should also be taken into consideration. The following are some detailed analysis for these three ways of holding the mobile phone. It contains some users habits and influence factors.

Single hand

Initially, I predicted that it is easy to imagine using single hand to hold the phone. Unfortunately, 49% of the users who use single hand hold mobile phones in different postures. Pictures below show two kind of single hand postures people mainly use. Single hand

In addition, 67% of people use right hand thumb and 33% left use left hand thumb. Interestingly, only 10% of the total are left-handers. There are some other reasons for using single hand to hold the phone as well. For example carrying the bag, holding a baby or clasping the handrail.

 One hand assist another

This means people use two hand to hold the phone, but they only use one finger to touch the screen. There are also two postures to operate as follows: thumb or other fingers. One hand assist another

72% of them use thumb. ONly 28% of them use other fingers, which include only 6 people. Moreover, some people sometimes change their ways of hold the phone. So we can speculate that some area of the screen (Such as the pictures red part) they cannot touch only by thumb. They have to change the way. Or they are in a crowded street and they need to protect the phone from dropping out.


Some people used to using phones with keyboard. Probably they use both hands. Though the keyboard disappeared, they can also touch the screen by two fingers and type letters as before. Both hands

Furthermore, 90% users prefer vertical hold the phone. Some users only use two fingers to type letters, after that they change single hand to hold it. Because of some users have ever complained that some apps development does not support horizontal screen, that's also a reason for why nearly no user hold the phone in that way.


The testing finished doesn't means this kind of research finished as well. Some other statistics such as when and why they change the way from using single hand to both are also valuable. We still don't know how they hold their phones according to different circumstances. Some assumptions cannot be established without any basic test.

TMO Group is a technology company located in Shanghai, China. We also provide mobile commerce solutions from consulting to development. More details please send us an email!

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