How our smartphone usage is changing
Recent Ofcom studies have found that while smartphone use is at an all time high, Brits are making fewer calls on these phones than ever. In 2018, just 75% of mobile users use their devices to make calls.
Part of the reason for this huge drop is that internet browsing and data use have risen hugely, and are now the preferred method of gaining information and making connections. These uses have overtaken calls as the number one use for mobile devices.
Ofcom has shown that UK smartphone ownership has risen from 17% to 78% since 2008. Back then, smartphones accounted for 20% of web browsing, as opposed to now, where they are accounting for a huge 72%. Now, the average Brit spends 2 hours 28 minutes a day on their handset and checks their smartphone every 12 minutes.
These trends are rapidly increasing the overall average time we spend online as a nation. A fifth of us spend more than 40 hours a week online. Flexible working and communication with friends and family are the main use cases, but more people feel like they’re cut off from the outside world if they don’t have their phone on them.
Clearly, the culture in which we are living lends itself towards internet browsing on the move. This usage is both a cause and a product of our lives becoming faster. If you are out and about and want to find the nearest takeaway or nice restaurant, your mobile is your first port of call. If you want to find out the fastest route to your destination, a route can be mapped out for you at the touch of a button. Live breaking news updates can be sent directly to your phone as soon as they are released. If you see an ad for a dress that you like on Instagram, for example, simply clicking on it takes you through to an online shopping site. Life is fast, instant and flexible. There is not as much need to call a friend for a catch up or to organise a meeting place if you can just send them a quick Facebook message or Whatsapp over the web.
Whether or not this is a positive movement has been hotly debated. Mobile operators are happy with the increasing amounts of data as it allows them to sell tariffs with bigger data bundles. Users are happy because of the time-saving aspect, and the feeling of being better connected to the world and each other.
However, this use of OTT services to bypass call and text charges is having an impact on traditional revenues. In addition, there has been research which suggests that this constant internet use is shortening attention spans and making us more and more reliant on technology for everyday life.