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  • Zohid Mamadjanov

How Do Koreans Use a Mobile Phone?

Updated: May 14, 2020

According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of South Korean people use a smartphone. That is the highest smartphone penetration rate among OECD countries. The East Asian nation with over 51 million population spends an average of 3 hours 40 minutes on smartphones each day. Meanwhile, mobile e-commerce market size is growing significantly. Here are some facts on how Koreans use a mobile phone in their daily life.


5 out of 10 people use a Samsung smartphone.

The market share of Samsung Smartphones stands at around 57%. Samsung has expanded its market share in South Korea after launching 5G premium smartphones in 2019. Apple, on the other hand, accounts for 28% of the market share. Apple increased its market share up t0 14% after launching the iPhone 11. LG's market share stands at around 15%.


People mostly chat, socialize, and watch videos on their smartphones.

How do Korean people spend their time on smartphones? According to GlobalWebIndex, 8 out of 10 people (88%) spend their time chatting or socializing on KakaoTalk, Facebook, or Instagram while 7 out of 10 people (74%) spend their time on entertainment or video apps such as YouTube or Afreeca TV. Also, 59% of users shop on their smartphones while 56% spend time on banking apps. 5 out of 10 people (52~54%) spend their time listening to music or finding directions on music and map apps.


Almost all Korean people use KakaoTalk.

KakaoTalk is a local messenger launched by Kakao Corporation in 2009. As of 2019, over 44 million people use KakaTalk and it is the most installed mobile app in South Korea followed by Naver.

KakaoTalk was launched as a simple messenger but now it expanded its business area with various services such as Kakao banking, Kakao News, Kakao Shopping, and many more. In recent years, Kakao Corporation launched the KakaoTalk ads beta service called 'Kakao Biz Board' to monetize a significant number of messenger users.

Here are South Korea's TOP 10 most used mobile apps in 2019:

1. KakaoTalk

2. Naver

3. Band

4. Naver Map

5. Facebook

6. Instagram

7. Coupang

8. KakaoStory

9. T Map

10. Daum


Android OS shares the biggest web traffic.

If we take a look at the share of web traffic by mobile OS, 75.1% of web traffic comes from Android OS as of January 2020 while Apple IOS devices share 24.7% of web traffic. Remaining traffic comes from Samsung OS and other devices.


Mobile e-commerce marketing is growing.

KRW 1 trillion (USD 1 billion) is the amount generated from mobile commerce in 2019. Mobile phones are getting a more user-friendly and secure place to shop. People are spending more time on their phones doing shopping. Smartphones are getting beyond communication devices and becoming a so-called market place for not only B2C but also C2C thanks to the increasing number of C2C mobile platforms.


More people are spending more time on their phones taking different actions while smartphones are becoming a more user-friendly and secure place to shop. That is why an increasing number of corporations started allocating bigger digital marketing budgets on mobile ads to run full-funnel marketing campaigns.


Data source: Pew Research Center, GlobalWebIndex, Wiseapp, Counterpoint Research.

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