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As smartphones evolve into wallets, two thirds worry mobile makers are forgetting about the basics

Written by Ernest Doku

17 August 2015

  • The top three most important things to British mobile users are how easy their handsets are to use (28%), call reception (21%) and battery life (21%)

  • Most mobile users couldn’t care less about ‘gimmicky’ new specs such as curved displays (4%), eyeball tracking (7%) or leather phones (8%)

  • Fingerprint-scanning security is one of the most used features – a third (34%) who have iPhones now use it daily

  • Mobile payment technologies such as Apple Pay are on the rise, but only 13% class it as a ‘must have

  • With smartphones evolving into wallets, three quarters (75%) claim mobile security features are more important now than a year ago

  • Despite the launch of new flagship handsets from all the major manufacturers, only 57% of mobile users have considered an upgrade to a newer model in the past year.

Smartphones have evolved to the point where they are now starting to replace our purses and wallets, yet almost two thirds (62%) of mobile users think they are evolving so fast that manufacturers are forgetting about the basics. That’s according to new research by Uswitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service.

The primary concern for almost three in 10 (28%) users is how simple their handsets are to use, while more than one in five (21%) want mobile reception and battery life.

Bottom of the list is the curved display – a feature of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and new Edge+ – which just 4% of people class as a useful feature on a smartphone, followed by eyeball tracking technology – first seen in the UK in the Samsung Galaxy S3 ­–­ which only 7% deem as useful. Customised exteriors such as leather won just 8% of the vote.

Flexible smartphones such as the LG G Flex are also bottom of the priority pile, with just 8% of mobile users seeing this as a beneficial feature, while just 11% see 3D graphics and 13% see swappable components as valuable.

However, fingerprint-scanning security, as showcased in the iPhone 5s, has won people over to become one of the most used features today. More than a third (34%) of iPhone owners now take advantage of this feature on a daily basis and, with the rise of Apple Pay, which requires a fingerprint to authorise payments, it is set to become even more popular.

That said, mobile makers have work to do to get more people making mobile payments. While almost a quarter (24%) of us say mobile payment technology is a useful feature, just 13% class it as a ‘must have’. Three quarters (75%) claim mobile security features are more important now than a year ago, thanks to the adoption of mobile payment technologies.

Camera updates are also proving popular, according to the research. Almost half (49%) of users say a zoom camera lens is a useful addition to a smartphone. More than a third (35%) use zoom lenses at least once a month, and front-facing cameras – perfectly positioned for ‘selfie’ shots – are used by more than three in 10 (31%) smartphone users at least every month.

It seems many of us want tougher smartphones, too. Robust, anti-shatter screens are top of the most-useful list, with 70% of smartphone owners agreeing these add value, and 57% of owners also rate waterproof handsets.

New flagship handsets are failing to impress with only 57% of mobile users considering an upgrade to a newer model in the past year. The proportion of iPhone owners who’d thought about upgrading in the past 12 months was slightly higher, at 61%. And with the next iPhone launch just weeks away, a fifth (20%) of iPhone owners say they will only consider upgrading their current handset if Apple launches an iPhone 7, rather than an iterative iPhone 6s.

As mobile makers struggle to tempt users with new handsets, appetite for SIM-only deals, which provide calls, texts and data without a mobile handset, is rising. In the past year sales rose by 200% on Uswitch.com, as consumers chose not to upgrade to newer models.

Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, comments: “British smartphone users are wise to gimmickry. While mobile makers need phones that stand out from the throng, they sometimes forget that a phone is primarily a phone, and it still needs to do all the basics extremely well – such as make calls and not run out of battery.

“Brits might be cynical when it comes to smartphone specs, and we can sniff a gimmick from a mile away, but we also crave real innovation. And when manufacturers get it right, as they have with fingerprint technology and zoom camera lenses, it vastly improves the smartphone experience.

“But people don’t need to spend the earth to get the latest innovations on their mobile phone. It is often only a matter of months before the mid to low range phones include the same functionality as earlier flagship devices – and often at a fraction of the price. So if you want the latest innovations on your phone, it’s worth shopping around to find the right handset for you before you settle on the latest flagship device.”

For more information visit www.uswitch.com or call 0800 093 0607

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Lucy Smith

Phone: 020 7148 4663

Email: lucy.smith@uswitch.com

Twitter: @uSwitchPR

Notes to editors

  Uswitch surveyed 5,306 UK adults aged 18+ who own a smartphone via its consumer opinion panel in July 2015. Of these, 2,242 currently own and use iPhones.

  1. All respondents were asked: ‘What’s the one thing you care most about in a smartphone? (choose one)’. The top five answers were: 27.6% said how easy it is to use, 20.7% said reception for calls, 20.5% said battery life, 7.2% said apps, 4.8% said email functionality

  2. All respondents were asked: ’Which features do you think are useful in a smartphone? (Select all that apply)’ ­­­- 88.1% said long battery life, 70.3% said anti-shatter screen, 56.7% said waterproof body, 48.5% said zoom camera lens, 32.0% said fingerprint-proof screen, 33.2% said finger-print scanning security, 27.4% said front-facing selfie camera, 23.8% said mobile payment technology, 12.8% said swappable components, 11.2% said 3D display/graphics, 8.1% said flexible/foldable phone, 7.9% said customised exterior e.g. leather or a specific colour, 7.1% said eyeball tracking, 4.4% said none of the above, 3.7% said curved screen

  3. All respondents were asked: ‘Does your phone have any of the following features and how often do you use them?’ The results are in the following table, with results in bold font for those respondents with iPhones:

FeatureEvery dayA few times a weekOnce a monthOccasionallyNeverDon’t have this feature
Fingerprint scanning security17.4%34.4%1.8%2.8%0.2%0.4%3.2%4.6%12.4%10.7%65.0%47.1%
Voice control5.7%7.2%11.6%14.6%2.6%3.4%25.0%29.3%40.9%37.6%14.2%7.9%
Eyeball tracking3.3%1.3%1.5%1.1%0.4%0.5%3.8%3.0%23.8%24.8%67.3%69.3%
Mobile payment technology2.7%4.0%7.7%11.5%3.6%4.2%12.1%14.3%37.9%35.0%36.0%31.0%
Zoom camera lens6.1%8.2%21.7%26.7%7.2%8.4%33.5%30.8%8.9%8.0%22.6%17.9%
Front facing ‘selfie’ camera4.2%6.0%10.8%16.1%6.8%8.7%36.8%40.1%28.9%23.2%12.6%5.9%
  1. All respondents were asked: ‘Which features do you consider to be a must-have when buying a phone? (Select all that apply)’ – 86.7% said long battery life, 50.2% said anti-shatter screen, 48.0% said 4G technology, 31.5% said waterproof body, 18.7% said fingerprint scanning security, 11.7% said voice control, 12.8% said mobile payment technology, 6.1% said none of the above

  2. All respondents were asked: With the UK launch of Apple Pay and the rise in other mobile payment technologies, do you feel that mobile phone security is more important to you now, compared to a year ago? Three quarters (75%) answered yes.

  3. Respondents were asked: ‘Have you considered upgrading to a new handset in the past 12 months?’ – 57.4% said yes, 39.9% said no, 2.7% said don’t know. The results for iPhone owners were: 60.7% said yes, 36.6% said no, 2.7% said don’t know

  4. 8% of British mobile users agreed with the question: I worry that smartphones are evolving so fast that mobile makers are forgetting to improve on basic features.

  5. iPhone owners were asked: ‘Would you be less likely to upgrade your iPhone if Apple brings out an iPhone 6s, instead of an iPhone 7? For reference, an iPhone 7 is more likely to have new features or a design change.’ 6% said I will definitely upgrade to an iPhone 6s in the next year (from Sept), 15.4% said I will probably upgrade to an iPhone 6s in the next year (from Sept), 19.6% said I would only consider upgrading if Apple launched an iPhone 7 in September, 40.3% said I won’t upgrade my phone at all in the next year (from Sept)

  6. Sales of SIM-only deals on Uswitch.com increased by 149% in the past year. Data taken from 31st July 2014 and 31st July 2015.

   

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