- Nostalgia trip: GPS (42%), messaging apps like WhatsApp (36%) and built-in alarm clocks (35%) are universally considered the most useful mobile features, miles ahead of new-fangled functions like the iris scanner (2%)
- Even among the younger generation, messaging apps (47%) far outstrip recently-added functions such as fingerprint ID (15%) and the Swype keyboard (9%)
- Among newly-added phone features, the changes to iPhone 7’s dual lens rear camera (14%) was considerably more appealing than ‘innovative’ smartphone design like the LG G5 and Motorola Moto Z’s modular phones (6%)
- Meanwhile, the majority (71%) of Brits have either never made in-store payments on a smartphone or have previously but don’t anymore, with 31% put off by concerns over security and cyber crime
Dual lens cameras, the demise of the headphone slot and 5G might be among the hottest smartphone trends to watch out for in 2017 but, as new research by uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service shows, Brits’ love affair with more traditional mobile features dies hard. Nearly half of Brits (42%) rate GPS as the most useful smartphone feature, followed by messaging apps like WhatsApp (36%) and the built-in alarm clock (35%) – all of which have been in use for years.
Meanwhile, iris scanning technology (2%) – which Microsoft introduced with its Lumia 950 handset in 2015 – and stylus pens (2%) languish at the bottom of the usefulness rankings. Despite an increased user consciousness around security in recent years, even fingerprint ID (13%) fails to match up to more established features in the popularity stakes.
Among the younger generation, which is usually considered to be more responsive to new ideas, the gulf is yet more pronounced. Almost half (47%) of 18-34 year olds consider messaging apps to be the most valuable mobile feature, over fingerprint ID (15%), Swype keyboard (9%) and over ten times (4%) more useful than virtual and voice activated assistants.
Table 1: most useful smartphone features
|Of the smartphone features listed below, which do you consider to be the most useful, if any? (select up to 3)||All Brits||18-34 year olds||35-54
|GPS (for maps, directions and sat nav)||42%||44%||46%||37%|
|Messaging apps e.g. Whatsapp/Messenger||36%||47%||36%||27%|
|Water and dustproofing||11%||13%||14%||7%|
|Front facing ‘selfie’ camera||8%||11%||8%||5%|
|Swype keyboard for faster typing||6%||9%||7%||4%|
|Mobile payment technology||6%||8%||6%||4%|
|Built in ‘locate and wipe’ my phone feature||5%||7%||7%||3%|
|Do not disturb mode||4%||8%||4%||2%|
|Virtual or voice activated assistant||4%||4%||5%||4%|
|Ability to add filters to pictures/selfies||2%||4%||2%||1%|
Meanwhile, women are twice as likely (10%) to put the front-facing ‘selfie’ camera to good use than men (5%). On the other hand, men are more likely to find Fingerprint ID (14%) useful than women (11%).
In terms of recent additions brought to us by the big brands, the iPhone 7’s dual-lens rear camera (14%) – allowing users to shoot pictures with a ‘bokeh’ effect – and Google Pixel’s personal assistant, Google Assistant (14%), stormed ahead in popularity over more ‘innovative’ mobile handset designs such as LG G5 and Motorola Moto Z’s modular phones (6%). Even the iPhone’s rethought home button (7%), which gives users new ways to interact with their phones, didn’t fare much better.
Meanwhile, more than seven in 10 (71%) Brits admit they have either never used a smartphone to pay for goods in shops or have previously but don’t anymore and only 2% admit to using it wherever they can. Despite this, Britons believe they are more than twice as likely to use mobile payment technology (21%) over other recent tech innovations, including virtual reality headsets (10%), and three times more likely to pay via NFC (Near Field Communications) than use a home automation box like Google Home or Amazon Echo (7%).
Nearly a third (31%) of Brits who have either never used a smartphone to pay for goods in shops or have previously but don’t anymore, say they are concerned about the security risks associated with mobile payments, and more than a fifth (21%) of Brits believe they’ve been victims of cyber crime – suggesting that security concerns remain a significant deterrent to a wider take-up of the technology. Although, more than half (59%) of Brits who have either never used a smartphone to pay for goods in shops or have previously but don’t anymore say their reluctance is down to the fact they simply prefer to use more traditional methods like cash or card to make payments to retailers.
Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, says: “In recent years, smartphone developers have struggled to shout above the din in an increasingly saturated market. As it turns out, users are yet to be convinced by the abundance of new features on offer, so perhaps the real value for developers lies in improving already established features and built-in apps.
“What this research highlights is how quickly we’ve become reliant on features that help us organise our lives, underlined by the popularity of Google Pixel’s personal assistant. This is borne out in the wider tech space, where wearables and connected home technology like Amazon Echo and Google Home are likely to become the new normal for time-poor users who are fed up of onerous life admin, and touchscreen technology for that matter.
“Meanwhile, messenger apps and GPS-powered services have quickly become everyday staples. While mobile payments haven’t quite taken off just yet, they head up the wishlist for the future – implying that smartphone users are drawn more to features that offer functionality.
“It is also proof that challenger smartphone makers can take on the big players with the right features. For anyone looking to upgrade their phone, and in the market for something a bit different, look at underdog brands like Huawei that deliver on specs and aren’t anywhere near as expensive.”
For more information visit www.uswitch.com or call 0800 093 0607