I'm looking for statistics or other objective evidence on the tappability of different areas of handset screens. When I say tappability, I'm referring to speed, accuracy, and general ergonomic fit for the user.

I've seen a few heat map-type of visualizations such as Kicker Studio's "Activity Zones" graphic, but I'm looking for something more rigorous and less generalized. For example, I'd like insight into different ways in which people hold their devices and how the tappable areas change with device size. How easily can a user reach one corner of the screen vs. another? How does this change when the user holds the device with two hands? Etc...

I realize this is a very broad question, but I'd be appreciative of any resources you have to share.

  • This sounds like a hardware question, not necessarily a UX question. Commented Jan 5, 2012 at 17:07
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    @AaronMcIver Hardware affects the user experience. The notion of "activity zones" affects how we design apps. Seems relevant to me. Commented Jan 5, 2012 at 17:27
  • Most games will leave controls in those "easy" areas while lesser used menu controls are often left at the top of applications. Apple's HIG for iOS also suggests leaving a Tab Bar at the bottom for ease of access.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Jan 5, 2012 at 20:30
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    @DanielNewman Everything plays a roll within UX. Ease of use viewing a screen when the sun is at high noon, the weight of a phone, the processor within the device, etc... It just feels more like an engineering question more so than a UX question. Worthwhile? Certainly, just not for this site IMHO. Commented Jan 5, 2012 at 21:50
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    Sorry for any confusion. My question was about tappability from a user perspective and not concerned with the touch capabilities of the device itself. E.g., We know that the top edge of a handset touch screen is generally less "tappable" (i.e., harder to reach and tap accurately) than the center of the screen when a user is holding the device with one hand and tapping with the thumb.
    – Matt
    Commented Jan 6, 2012 at 14:45

1 Answer 1


This isn't a complete answer to your question, but Dustin Curtis recently speculated that the reason the iPhone's screen is 3.5 inches is because it's the best size for your thumb to easily access all areas of the screen:

Comparison of radius of thumb access between iPhone and Galaxy S2

Is this in-depth data? No. But it's a very relevant argument against increasing the size of the screen if you care about the use case of using your phone with one hand. Clearly the iPhone wins here when measured against speed, accuracy and ergonomics of reaching the upper right corner of the screen quickly.

  • Are people left-hand dominant when using mobile devices or is area just flipped depending on the hand? Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 7:38

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