US Time Spent with Mobile 2019

Smartphones Gain Minutes, but New Challengers Emerge

Time Spent with Media 2019

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Forecasts for nine markets: US, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Latin America, South Korea, UK; as well as mobile and social media time spent in the US

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About This Report
US adults continue to spend time with smartphones at the expense of TV, desktop and tablets, but emerging devices and changing consumer preferences may decelerate this trend.

Executive Summary

In 2019, for the first time, US consumers will spend more time with their mobile devices than they do watching TV. Smartphones account for 70% of that mobile time—21% of total time spent with media in the US—and continue to attract minutes.

How much time do people spend on smartphones?

The average US adult will spend 2 hours, 55 minutes on a smartphone in 2019, a 9-minute increase from 2018. Among smartphone users in the US, time spent with their device is 3 hours, 10 minutes per day.

Are smartphone minutes coming at the expense of tablets?

Yes. Tablets continue to lose share of time spent to smartphones. In the past year, they are also losing actual minutes to smartphones and other devices.

How much mobile time is spent in apps?

About 90% of smartphone time is in apps. That said, the distinction between the web and apps is fading as web experiences emulate apps. Nonetheless, the long-term trend is toward app-like experiences, whether native or based on advanced HTML.

What type of content are people consuming in apps?

Digital audio accounts for the biggest share of time spent, with social media and digital video following.

Will smartphones continue to gain minutes?

Although it is likely that smartphones will remain the dominant device for consumer media, other devices and societal trends may begin to chip away minutes. The big question is whether consumers will start to translate their unease with an over-connected lifestyle into concrete actions to limit screen time.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report presents our latest forecast on time spent on mobile devices, and how that usage reflects broader media and device trends.

An important note on how we account for multitasking in our estimates of time spent with media: If someone spends an hour watching TV (for example) and uses a smartphone to surf the web during the same hour, we count this as an hour of usage for each medium, and hence as 2 hours of total media time.

KEY STAT: In 2019, for the first time, the average US adult will spend more time engaging with their mobile devices than watching TV.

Behind the Numbers

eMarketer’s methodology for its US time spent with media forecast is based on an analysis of 2,265 metrics from 130 sources. This analysis involves the collection of third-party data—primarily survey data—from adult respondents, asking them about their media use habits. Data is also sourced from online and mobile activity tracking services, government data and interviews with industry experts.

Using a bottom-up analysis, we assess and analyze reported time spent with each device and media activity across various sources. And where definitions differ, the data is normalized and interpreted in terms of our definition (i.e., the US population ages 18 and older). The data is then aggregated with the time contributions from each device and media type to arrive at an estimate for average time spent with media per day.

In order to arrive at forecasts for growth rates by media and by device, this analysis is followed by extensive assessments of historical and expected future growth patterns with regard to device adoption, multiple and overlapping device usage, population and demographic factors and competitors to existing devices and activities.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. We Live in the Mobile Era
  3. Apps Dominate Mobile Time Spent
  1. Longer-Term Trends
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Interviewed for This Report

Liz Cole
Digitas North America
Vice President and Group Director, Social Strategy
Interviewed April 29, 2019
Lexi Sydow
App Annie
Senior Market Insights Manager
Interviewed April 18, 2019
Stan Coignard
Americas CEO, Co-Founder
Interviewed April 17, 2019
Mike Hann
Co-Founder, President
Interviewed April 18, 2019
Scott Ings
Vice President, Product
Interviewed April 15, 2019
Michael Jaconi
Co-Founder, CEO
Interviewed April 24, 2019
Katie Jansen
Interviewed April 17, 2019
Grace Kao
Vice President, Sales Marketing
Interviewed April 16, 2019
Annika Mitic
Senior Manager, Marketing Communications
Interviewed April 18, 2019
Katherine Strieder
Vice President, Product Management
Interviewed April 18, 2019


Yoram Wurmser


Mark Dolliver
Principal Analyst
Chris Keating
Research Director
Monica Peart
Senior Director, Forecasting
Debra Aho Williamson
Principal Analyst