Alexander Wenz, Florian Keusch
The second-level smartphone divide: A typology of smartphone use based on frequency of use, skills, and types of activities

Mobile Media & Communication, 2023: 11, issue 3, pp. 459-483
ISSN: 1461-4448 (print), 2050-1587 (online)

Smartphones have become one of the most frequently used devices for accessing the Internet. Although a growing body of research has examined the second-level digital divide with a focus on general Internet and digital media use, little is known about patterns of smartphone use and smartphone-related skills in the general population. This paper examines inequalities in the use of smartphone technology based on two nationally representative samples of smartphone owners collected in Germany in 2017 and 2020. We identify six distinct types of smartphone users by conducting latent class analyses that classify individuals based on their frequency of smartphone use, self-rated smartphone skills, and activities carried out on their smartphone. Smartphone use differs significantly by sociodemographic characteristics and operating system. The types reflecting more frequent and diverse smartphone use are younger, have higher levels of educational attainment, and are more likely to use an iPhone. Overall, the composition of the latent classes and their characteristics are robust across samples.