Is it with their left hand, using its thumb to tap UI elements? Or do they use their right hand like right-handed people? Is there any research into this matter with published numbers?

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    See ux.stackexchange.com/questions/346/… - the second answer sounds quite likely. tl;dr: They use the right hand, too. Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 14:59
  • 1
    Hmm, i'm a righty and I hold it with my left hand. I use my left thumb tp do stuff, but my right index finger pitches in when I type. But that's probably just me :\ Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 16:42
  • I'm right-handed and I use all phones with my left hand. AFAIK, most people do the same: use the phone with the non-dominant hand.
    – dnbrv
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 17:41
  • I'm left handed and I always use my left hand and my left hand thumb to navigate and write. Both in landscape mode and portrait mode. If I need to pinch (for example to zoom) I use my right hand while holding it with my left. Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 8:05
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    I think that many people use which ever hand is available, no matter which hand is their dominate one. Unfortunately, to type without stretching your thumb and with minimal typos you need to hold the phone with one hand and use the interface with your other. In practice this is probably not always done. Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 8:13

2 Answers 2


I got inspired, did some digging in my search engine of choice and found a very recent study by Henry Ford Hospital (published in February 2012) that gives a more or less clear answer on the debate:

People hold phones in the hand that is opposite to the dominant side of the brain (where speech & hearing centers are located).

This means that the majority (70%) of right-handed people do indeed hold it with their right hand and left-handed people with their left hand because their speech centers are in the left and right hemispheres respectively.

However, there're still 30% of people who use the non-dominant hand for phones (like me) and people who are supposedly ambidextrous.

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    Nice study, but it's really about which ear people use to speak on the phone, rather than which hand they use to operate the phone. Speaking into it doesn't use the same physical interactions as touching, pinching and dragging elements on the screen do.
    – JonW
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:32
  • @JonW: That depends on overall dexterity of the hand, in which they're holding the device (i.e older people with bad finger joints use 2 hands to operate a mobile phone).
    – dnbrv
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:41
  • So, does this mean that hand dominance doesn't play any role in which hand people use to hold their smartphone? Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 7:51
  • @YosefWaysman Yes, at least for tasks related to calling it depends on the location of speech & hearing centers of the brain. For non-calling tasks, it may depend on the dominant hand but I haven't seen such research yet.
    – dnbrv
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 13:33

I am left handed, and I do use my thumb to tap UI elements wile holding a smartphone in my right hand.

It seems as though left handed people tend to hold a smartphone with their right hand, as holding a smartphone does not require a lot of dexterity. Also, smartphones are usually optimized for right handed people, as the majority of humans are, in fact, right handed.

However, it all comes down to a person's preference. For example, it's like with computer mice - most left handed people will use their right hand to control the mouse, because almost all mice are ergonomically designed to fit someones right hand. Now, computer mice are being created for left handed people to use, but are not very popular because most of us lefties have grown up moving the mouse with our right hand and typing with our left hand. If I had to type with my right hand and move the mouse with my left hand, I wouldn't be nearly as efficient. It would be like learning to use a computer all over again.

  • Sorry for the wall of text. I'm usually on Arqade, so I'm not really sure how to format answers on here.
    – Hunger
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 15:17
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    Thanks for your comment @Hunger. You're personal case does help me understand better, but I was hoping for more research-based data. Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 15:20
  • Then I suggest the link ThiefMaster commented.
    – Hunger
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 15:26

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