Over half of smartphone owners regularly use their devices on public transport, at work and while shopping. And the younger a consumer is and the faster their network, the more likely they are to use their phones as they go about their day.
These quick glances add up – collectively, UK consumers check their smartphones over a billion times a day.
As smartphones become ever more embedded in our lives, we see new opportunities and challenges for the mobile sector, retailers, advertisers and beyond.
Our fifth annual edition of the UK Mobile Consumer survey analyses the current trends in the mobile industry. Some key findings include:
Read the chapter summaries below to find out more.
Because the smartphone market is so valuable – £250 billion in global revenues are forecast for 2015 – the innovation cycle is faster than ever and consumers are upgrading more frequently. And because abandoned phones are often a year or two old and ever more capable, trade in values are rising – the latest premium smartphones have a trade-in value of close to £400. With higher values, more and more consumers are opting to trade-in or hand down their old phones instead of consigning them to drawers. This means in 2015 we could be looking at about 7 million phone trade-ins, worth a total of £900 million.
Between 2012 and 2014, UK consumers tripled the amount of time they spent on non-voice uses of their smartphones, while voice call volumes increased a mere 4%.
Apps that allow voice calls through data on the network (cellular or WiFi) are picking up some of the slack, but these can suffer from audio problems.
But the rollout of 2 new operator-managed voice services which work using the phone’s standard dialer – VoWiFi and VoLTE – may overcome the audio quality issues and help revitalise voice communication on smartphones.
If we could get all of our appliances, devices and objects connected to our smartphones, we could potentially see an explosion of value creation.
But while the technology is now in place, only 2 categories of connected device – televisions and games consoles – are owned by more than 10% of the UK population.
Penetration levels of smart thermostats, lighting systems, home appliances, watches and connected cars may not take off unless there’s a radical shift in consumer and supplier behaviour.
Among UK adults with a smartphone, 95% have used their devices to take a photo and two thirds have uploaded or shared their creations via social networks and IM (instant messaging). More than 10% take photos every day.
Aside from the impact on network traffic at home, photo sharing is also driving mobile data use overseas, as travellers turn away from postcards to instantly uploadable holiday snaps and selfies.
In May 2014, just 3% of UK adults had used their phone to make a payment in-store. By mid-2015, that figure jumped to 13%.
Still, only 1% of consumers are using their phones to make payments on a daily basis. We expect this figure to rise considerably over the next year as more retailers offer the in-store mobile payments. Before long, some city-dwelling early adopters may even be able to leave home without their wallets.
Though the introduction of home PCs and broadband internet had no effect on TV viewing, the last few years have seen a downtick in the number of minutes watched per day.
Smartphone use may explain some of this, since more of us are getting news through our phones and apps such as mobile games cut into TV viewing time.
But consumers still prefer to view longer programmes on the television. Fewer than 10% of smartphone owners watch live TV or use TV catch-up services on their phones, and in 2015, video viewing fell from the 7th to the 8th most used smartphone application among 4G users.