Dialaphone’s latest poll asked our readers about what they most use their phones for, gathering results about the things that smartphone users actually do with their devices. A long time has passed since mobile phones were used simply for calling and texting, with more and more features and capabilities having been added over the years.
Research conducted by Ofcom published in July this year found that 39% of UK adults now own a smartphone, a 12% rise on similar figures from 2010.But are these devices being used to their full potential, or simply kept as something with which to make the occasional call?
As in previous weeks, the poll has run concurrently on our Facebook page and, as has happened several times, differing results have been gleaned from the different platforms.
On the Dialaphone blog, there were two categories which gained the largest share of the votes, spread pretty much evenly between them. One of the results didn’t create much surprise, with the traditional mobile phone functions of calls and texts being very popular.
Those Ofcom statistics found that texting is still a mainstay of mobile use, with 58% of phone users sending a text on a daily basis. This figure rises to 90% amongst the 16-24 year old demographic, suggesting that despite the rise of social networks, texting is still hugely popular, especially amongst younger people.
Calling is still hugely popular, despite there having been a drop of almost 1% according to the Ofcom figures. The same research showed that landline use has dropped by 10%, suggesting that non-verbal digital communication is increasingly taking precedence.
Next in the results was what we expected to be a popular category – social networking. The Ofcom figures found that 42% of smartphone owners regularly use social networking on their device, with the average user spending around ninety minutes on this activity per week.
The world’s biggest social network, Facebook, has said that around half of its 900 million global users regularly access the service via a mobile device, and there are a total of three separate apps specifically dedicated to using Facebook’s functions.
Other social networks, such as Twitter, have a huge presence in the mobile world, with many manufacturers integrating these services directly their device’s operating systems. Mobile networks have even voiced concern about the effect that social networks used on mobiles are having on text messaging revenues.
Another category which scored highly in the poll did raise a few eyebrows, after gaming emerged as one of the most popular uses of smartphones. Whilst mobile gaming is certainly something that has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, we didn’t expect it to feature quite so highly in the results.
Nevertheless, smartphones have become excellent platforms for gaming, offering a real alternative to handheld consoles such as the PS Vita. With large, high-performance displays and fast processors the gaming experience offered by mobile devices is incredible and almost negates the point of buying a second device specifically for the purpose.
While some aspects of dedicated handheld consoles are not echoed in smartphones, such as physical controls, the features mobile devices can boast (such as integration with other apps and online performance), make them very attractive propositions. We can only see the use of smartphones for gaming rising, although we were surprised that it scored so highly here.
Next in the results was photography, with this category partially reflecting the outcome of a survey we conducted a few weeks ago that found that smartphone users did not consider a device’s camera when purchasing a new devices. Mobile manufacturers may well put a great deal of focus on the imaging capabilities of their product, but it seems that Dialaphone blog readers aren’t quite so enthusiastic.
Lastly, we have web browsing, perhaps not featuring as prominently in the results as predicted. Mobile browsing has increased vastly over the last few years and in some countries mobiles account for more than half of total internet use, although this is lower amongst western nations – in the UK the figure stands at 10.71%.
Along with the native browsers that come with any mobile platform there are now many alternative options available, with Google’s Chrome being a stand out example. Tabs and search history can now be synced with the browser’s desktop counterpart, creating an ecosystem that makes mobile web use very easy. Samsung is also reported to be developing its own mobile browser, a project which could see some incredible results.
Once again the results of the same poll ran on Facebook differed from those on the blog, although not as much as they have in the past. Perhaps understandably, social networking scored highly, with there possibly being a slight bias towards this category considering the platform that the poll was hosted on.
Making calls and sending texts also scored highly, reflecting the results of the main poll. However, gaming, which did well on the blog survey, did not seem to be something that is important to Facebook users, with both web browsing and photography garnering more votes.
Continuing the theme of looking at the way in which smartphone owners make use of their devices, our next poll will seek to canvass opinion on mobile browsers. Despite this poll having shown that web browsing is not the top priority for many mobile users it will still be interesting to learn which apps they are using for surfing the internet, with us having whittled the myriad choices available down to six of the most popular options. Be sure to cast your vote either here on via our Facebook page, and check back next week to read the resulting feature.