18th August 2015
Nearly two-thirds (62%) of smartphone users are concerned that technology is evolving so fast that manufacturers are forgetting about providing the basic functions.
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%), according to a survey by uSwitch.com
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 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 had 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, says: “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.”