Global increase of smartphone use results in record download numbers, hours spent on phones: App Annie

A total of 3.8 trillion hours were spent on smart phones in 2021

People around the world used their phones more often in 2021 than years prior, according to a recent report by mobile data and analytics firm App Annie.

Globally, there were a collective 230 billion downloads. People also spent a total of 3.8 trillion hours on their smartphones. This is a 30 percent increase from 2019.

China led with the most hours spent on mobile with over 1.1 trillion hours in 2021. India followed with 0.7 trillion, and the U.S. reported 0.2 trillion.

Seven out of every 10 minutes were spent on either social, video, or photo apps, largely accelerated by the pandemic.

This was especially evident in Gen Z. The report lists Instagram, Spotify, Netflix, and Snapchat as the apps most likely used by this age group.

The release of 2 million new apps and games also contributed to the growing time spent on phones in the fight to keep customers engaged. “Every industry is a mobile-focused industry,” the report notes.

The new releases bring the grand total of apps and games released on iOS and Google to more than 21 million. Google Play accounted for 77 percent of app releases in 2021.

In Canada, the most searched terms on iOS app store all related to work-life: job, Zoom, LinkedIn, Indeed, and (Microsoft) Teams.


Mobile games also saw a significant increase in 2021 with $16 billion being spent. This brings the grand total of consumers spending on games to $116 billion.

There was a global shift in the types of games being downloaded, with the “astronomical rise” of hypercasual games focusing on actions and puzzles.

Video streaming

Time spent on streaming apps grew by 16 percent globally, compared to pre-pandemic numbers. Netflix leads other apps in this category, with the report stating the app will surpass more than 1 million downloads in 60 countries this year.

This wasn’t the case for China or India, where significant declines in streaming were reported. For China specifically, the report points to the growing popularity of short-form video apps like Kwai and TikTok, over streaming services.

Other highlights

Finance apps also reached a worldwide download total of 5.9 billion in 2021. This is a 28 percent increase from 2020 and was largely fueled by downloads in India. Finance apps in the country have now been downloaded more than 1 billion times.

There was an 18 percent increase in time spent on shopping apps, leading to a total of 100 billion hours being spent on such apps globally.

The full report can be viewed here.

Source: App Annie