Researchers in Europe surveyed 37,000 volunteers, and found that the gap between smartphone-based typing and keyboard typing is smaller than you probably think.
“We were amazed to see that users typing with two thumbs achieved 38 words per minute on average, which is only about 25 percent slower than the typing speeds we observed in a similar large-scale study of physical keyboards,” Anna Feit, a researcher at Swiss university ETH Zürich, said in a statement.
Thirty-eight words per minute (wpm) is pretty far off the 100+ wpm professional typists can achieve on a physical keyboard. But according to Feit, most normal users generally manage between 35 to 65wpm on desktop or laptop computers, which overlaps with the typing speeds on smartphones.
Some smartphone users are also pros at using the virtual keyboard. One volunteer who participated in the study managed to pound out 85 words per minute on a touch screen.
The study was conducted through a website that offers an English typing test, and also polls the user on their typing habits. Volunteers from over 160 countries took part in the study, but about half of the test users hailed from the US.
Not surprisingly, the younger generation performed better than their older counterparts. According to results, users aged between 10 to 19 years managed a 39.6wpm whereas those aged between 50 to 59 only managed a 26.3wpm.
“We are seeing a young generation that has always used touch-screen devices, and the difference to older generations that may have used devices longer, but different types, is staggering,” said Antti Oulasvirta, a professor at Aalto University and a study co-author.
The research also looked at how smartphone users were typing on the touch screen. Typing with both thumbs proved to be the fastest method at 38wpm, whereas one-fingered users only posted a 29.2wpm. You can try the test out for yourself to see your average typing speed, and where you stack up with the rest of the participants.