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Smartphone penetration in the UK has surged, public ‘glued’ to their devices

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According to a recent survey looking at UK smartphone owners’ device usage habits, 85% of 16-75-year-olds in the UK, 41 million people, own or have access to a smartphone device, up four percentage points from 2016 and 33 percentage points from 2012.

Over half of the respondents (53%) of “Deloitte’s seventh annual Mobile Consumer Survey” admitted to using their smartphones while walking, with the habit becoming more common among younger consumers – 74% of respondents in the 16-24 age bracket said they use their smartphone while walking.

A concerning revelation was that 11% of respondents said that they use their smartphones while crossing the road, with the proportion rising to 21% among 16-24-year-olds.

Paul Lee, head of research for technology, media and telecoms at Deloitte, commented: “Most people can relate to ‘smartphone zombies’, either through being one or bumping into one. But this is just one indication of just how infatuated we are with these devices, for better or worse.

“While we may be glued to our smartphones, it is important to acknowledge that these devices are also, increasingly, the glue that is binding society together, and will soon become the primary way to communicate, interact and transact with customers and fellow citizens.”

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85% of respondents – 41 million people – now own or have access to a smartphone.

Smartphone usage at night

Over three-quarters (79%) of respondents said they go on their smartphones within the last hour before going to sleep.

Among all UK respondents, 33% said that they check their phones in the middle of the night. This habit is twice as common among younger consumers, with two-thirds (66%) of 16-19-year-olds reporting that they check their phone late at night.

Dan Adams, UK lead partner for telecoms at Deloitte, commented: “If the first 10 years has been about changing our social lives, the next 10 years will be about changing our working lives. The smartphone’s attractiveness lies in the fact that it is the definitive multi-purpose consumer device: a digital Swiss Army knife with a set of tools that is millions of apps deep.

“Importantly, what goes on behind the smartphone’s screen is only getting smarter through machine learning, facial recognition and other technological advancements, so it is a device that will continue to offer an ever-widening array of benefits and challenges for years to come.”

Many UK consumers believe they spend too much time on their smartphone

The survey asked consumers if they believe that they use their phone too much. Two-fifths (38%) admitted that they believe they spend too much time using their phone. Among 16-24-year-olds, over half (56%) believe they are using their phone too much, while only 16% of 55-64-year-olds think they overuse their mobile device.

Lee added: “With every year the smartphone is becoming easier and more enticing to use. The question is: are we at the point at which smartphones have become almost too good for people to cope with, and if so, what remedies might be required? Interestingly, the steps that people are taking to control smartphone usage have a common theme: removing temptation.”