How often do you check your phone?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: February 6, 2012

It's rare for my phones to ever leave my side. I always have them either in my hand, in my pocket, or at least within arm's reach. (The only time I'm ever more than an arm's length away is when I'm in the shower. And until I have a phone with WaterBlock technology, I won't be playing Words With Friends while I bathe.) That way, if I get a new email, mention on Twitter, text message, Facebook notification or someone makes a move on Words With Friends (if you haven't noticed by now, I'm on another Words With Friends kick), I'm ready to draw my phone and respond.

What I'm totally unaware of, however, is just how much I actually check my phone throughout the day.

Earlier today, I was perusing my Google Reader and came across a Phone Arena article that recapped an interesting statistic renounced at Mobile Web Africa last Thursday. First mentioned by Nokia at MindTrek in 2010, Tomi Ahonen, a "star 3G consultant" said that the average person checks his or her phone 150 times per day. Doing the math, that equates to every six and a half minutes – nine to 10 times per hour.

Another interesting tidbit given by Ahonen was the difference in times that an average person might read read an email versus the time it takes a recipient to respond to a sent text message. Email sit unread in an inboxes for an average of 48 hours before being read while SMS messages are usually opened only four minutes after being sent. In other words, SMS is 720 times faster than email in "message-opening throughput.

When I consider my own usage habits, these figures seems extremely low. Granted, I'm probably on my phone a lot more than the "average user" anyway, I would guess that I check my phones (yes, if I check one, I check the other ... always) between 20 and 30 times per hour – or once every two to three minutes. Every time I get any new notifications, the iPhone display lights up on its own. And if I get any new notifications on my Nexus, the LED notification light blinks every few seconds. As you can imagine, these features make it a lot harder to go longer times between glances at the phone.

This isn't even counting the times that I subconsciously check my phone, or when I check for phantom vibrations, which happens all too often.

Digging a bit deeper, this metric doesn't account for how long each "stare" at a phone may last. Back when I was an avid BlackBerry user, I was obsessed with an application called I Love BlackBerry by EarlySail. The application would count the number of times you checked your phone (turned the display on) and just how long (down to the second) you kept the display on. What's more is it would break down those measures to nights and weekends, weekdays, work hours (set by the user) and to average daily, weekly and monthly use.

It has been quite a while since I last used the application, and I'm sure my usage habits have shifted around quite a bit. But I do recall my daily tally for turning on the display reaching 200 and 300 fairly often. (It sounds like a lot, but if you're awake for 16 hours and you check your phone 20 times per hour, that's 320 times you will have checked your phone by end of day.) And my usage, counted by the second, would stack up to anywhere between five and seven hours per day. (Yeah, I spent a lot of time text messaging back then.)

When I check my phones, a lot of the time I just dismiss new emails, unless they're priority. If all I have when I check my phone is emails, the screen usually goes off pretty quickly. But if it is a text message, a new word played by a friend, a Twitter mention or anything else, really, I respond right away. Usually, that leads to me getting sidetracked and I end up staring at my phone for anywhere between one and 30 minutes.

When you think about it, it adds up rather quickly and you can end up wasting a lot of time just staring at your phone. I know I do – especially recently.

If you were to guess, how many times do you check your phone per hour? More or less than the average? How long do you "stare" each time you check?