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The digital ‘Swiss Army Knife’: phone calls 5th in mobile phone use

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Making a phone call is no longer the most common use for our mobile phones, a study has revealed; in fact, researchers found that of the two hours a day Brits are using their mobile phones, making phones calls is only the fifth most popular use. 

Instead, phones users spend more time surfing the internet, checking social networking sites, playing games and listening to music.

The “All About You” report was commissioned by O2 to mark the launch of the Samsung Galaxy SIII, which is one of the first phones to lavish more attention on these previously “next generation” functions and to be designed for a new generation of smartphone users.

The study, of 2,000 smart phone users found they spend almost 25 minutes a day surfing the internet, and a further 17 minutes checking and updating social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

In comparison, just 12 minutes is spent actually talking to someone on a phone call, while sending text messages accounts for only 10 minutes of use a day.

David Johnson, General Manager Devices for O2 in the UK, which commissioned the research to mark the launch of the Samsung Galaxy SIII, said:

“Smartphones are now being used like a digital ‘Swiss Army Knife’, replacing possessions like watches, cameras, books and even laptops.

‘’While we’re seeing no let-up in the number of calls customers make or the amount of time they spend speaking on their phones, their phone now plays a far greater role in all aspects of their lives.

‘’Smart technology has improved in dramatically with the camera, diary, email and social media hardware and apps where design attention has been lavished.

‘’Now that it’s so easy to use, there’s no surprise that consumers are switching to phones for these functions.‘’

The survey found that 15-and-a-half minutes a day is spent listening to music on a smart phone, with 14 minutes taken up by playing games. Sending emails accounts for an additional 11 minutes, with nine minutes watching videos, another nine minutes reading books and three minutes taking photos.

Brits will also check the time on their phone five times a day.

Researchers also found that, for many people, the smartphone is replacing other possessions including alarm clocks, watches, cameras, diaries and even laptops and TVs as they become more intuitive and easier to use for things “beyond calls”:

  • 54% now use their phone in place of an alarm clock;
  • 46% have neglected their watch because of their phone’s time-telling ability;
  • 39% use their phone in place of a dedicated camera;
  • Over 25% use their phone in place of a laptop.

Additionally, 10% have even replaced their games console with their phone, while 6% use it as a TV.

A further 6%  have also stopped reading books in favour of viewing the text on their phones, as an alternative to using a tablet.

David Johnson added:

‘’We’re starting to see more and more phones being developed that interact with their users in new and interesting ways. Intelligent voice recognition and eye tracking are making phones even easier to use and we know our customers will love them.

‘’O2 has seen a rise in demand for phones that behave more like devices that know, understand and respond to their users. Phones like the latest Samsung Galaxy SIII are the most recent example.

‘’It includes voice interaction (the phone will “snooze” if a user asks it to when the alarm goes off), new interfaces such as eye tracking (which mean that the screen won’t go dark when a user is looking at it) and more sophisticated and personalised touchscreen functions are the latest innovations handset makers have developed in response to consumer demand.’’

 Time spent using different functions of a mobile phone (In minutes and seconds)

  1. Browsing the internet                                    24.49
  2. Checking social networking sites              17.29
  3. Playing games                                                   14.26
  4. Listening to music                                           15.38
  5. Making calls                                                        12.08
  6. Checking/writing emails                               11.06
  7. Text messaging                                                  10.12
  8. Watching TV/films                                           9.23
  9. Reading books                                                    9.18
  10. Taking photographs                                         3.25

TOTAL                                                                   128


Top ten things a smart phone has replaced:

  1. Alarm clock
  2. Watch
  3. Camera
  4. Diary
  5. Laptop/computer
  6. MP3 player
  7. Photo album/picture gallery
  8. Games console
  9. Radio
  10. Books

Smart technology has improved in dramatically with the camera, diary, email and social media hardware and apps where design attention has been lavished

David Johnson, General Manager for Devices for O2 in the UK

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