December 19, 2011, 4:24 PM

Smartphones are coming in handy this holiday season, survey finds

38% of smartphone owners say they’re finding the best deals via their devices.

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38% of U.S. smartphone owners say their devices have empowered them to find the best deals while shopping this holiday season, according to a new survey by GfK Custom Research North America and SapientNitro, a marketing and technology firm. 64% of smartphone owners age 18-24 say the same.

“Using digital devices makes it easier and makes me feel like I’m in control of the prices,” says one survey respondent. “I get better deals and better prices, and it’s enjoyable.”

When it comes to enjoyable, 39% of smartphone owners say their devices have enriched their shopping experience so far this holiday season, the survey says.

“As the use of digital devices moves more and more to the forefront of Americans’ shopping behavior, the ease of finding deals with them—whether through research, social media, deal sites and the like—has eased the pressures of gift giving in this down economy,” says Chris Davey, global head of commerce at SapientNitro. “This empowerment comes at the right time given that many Americans plan to spend less on holiday shopping this year than they did last year.”

There are 234 million mobile subscribers in the U.S., according to web and mobile measurement firm comScore. 38%, or 89 million, own smartphones, the firm reports. According to the GfK/SapientNitro study, of U.S. consumers with smartphones:

* 31% have used the GPS feature on their phone to help with holiday shopping.

* 30% have used a mobile app to search for or purchase a product this holiday season.

* 19% have scanned a QR code to find more information about a product.

* 18% have used a mobile coupon at the point of purchase.

Among tablet owners:

* 42% have used a mobile app to search for or purchase a product this holiday season.

* 41% have scanned a bar code to get more information about a product.

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