Britain’s mobile phone owners look at their devices nearly 1.1 billion times a day, the equivalent of 400 billion times a year, according to the latest research from Deloitte, the business advisory firm.
The fifth annual Mobile Consumer report analyses the mobile usage habits of over 4,000 UK consumers as part of a global survey of 49,000. As of May-June 2015, 76% of UK adults owned a smartphone, an increase of six percentage points from the previous year and 14% higher than in 2013.
Britain: the smartphone society
Over a third (36%) of smartphone owners look at their device more than 25 times a day. A sixth (16%) of respondents look at their smartphone more than 50 times a day. One in ten (12%) smartphone owners reaches for their device immediately upon waking; more than half (55%) do so within 15 minutes of waking up. This ritual is repeated at the end of the day: more than a quarter (28%) check their phones within five minutes before going to sleep every night.
The research also found that Britons use their phones throughout the day. Two thirds of smartphone owners use their devices while on public transport; 65% while at work; and almost a third of people use their phones while eating in a restaurant. For younger age groups (18 to 24 year-olds), usage intensity is higher still: 80% of young people use their devices on public transport and 43% while eating at a restaurant. Worryingly, a fifth of 18 to 24 year-olds look at their phones when crossing the road.
Paul Lee, head of technology, media and telecommunications research at Deloitte, comments: “The modern, touchscreen-based smartphone is less than a decade old, but it is more intertwined with our lives than ever. Constant technological improvements are allowing us to delegate more and more tasks to our phones, from ordering taxis to browsing catalogues and paying for a meal.
“The frequency of consumers glancing at their smartphones arguably makes it one of the best value devices available. For the sixth of smartphone owners who look at their devices 50 times or more a day, the cost per glance is less than two pence a day for a £700 handset kept for two years. And that’s before allowing for trade-in value.”
Deloitte’s research shows that sharing photos, making internet calls and streaming content has never been more popular. Mobile phone owners are in constant demand for data; and a quarter of all mobile owners (and 30% of smartphones owners) now use 4G.
Ed Marsden, lead telecoms partner at Deloitte, comments: “Consumers are planning their lives around their smartphones, which are quickly becoming the remote control for their lives. This will only increase the need for fast, uninterrupted connectivity. With 4G network speeds more than double that of 3G, it is not surprising that we have seen the number of 4G customers leap from eight to 25% in the last year.
“This is good news for mobile carriers and network operators. Faster connectivity should encourage greater data consumption. The telecommunications industry should constantly identify applications that can nurture higher demand for data.
“UK telecoms companies have copious data and information about their customers. However, the industry’s inertia around monetising this information has allowed a number of Silicon Valley giants to gain traction. It will be interesting to see whether UK telecoms companies will look to develop new revenue streams in the coming years as demand for connectivity continues to grow.”
Mobile payments on the rise
According to Deloitte’s research, there has been a significant increase in the number of UK adults who have made mobile payments in the year to May 2015, rising from three to 13% of respondents. However, just 1% use their phones to make payments via their mobile phone on a daily basis.
Barriers to entry still exist for the majority of smartphone owners. The most common reason that UK adults gave for not using their phone to make a payment was one of security – cited by 42% of respondents. This was followed by “I don’t see the benefits from using this” (35%), and users lacking the necessary feature or app on their phone (22%).
Lee added: “As technology companies continue to launch and market their mobile-payment systems, smartphone users will increasingly accept it as a method of payment. Within the next year, we would expect around 10% of smartphone owners to regularly make mobile payments. Early adopters may choose to leave home without the need to carry a wallet or purse.
“However, for the mainstream consumer, it will be many years before credit cards are dispensed of entirely; cash’s anonymity may well mean it remains in circulation for generations.”