Mobile makers accused of forgetting the basics


British consumers fail to be impressed by new technology, fancy designs and advanced services

Smartphones have evolved to the point where they are now starting to replace our purses and wallets, yet almost two thirds (62%) of mobile users think they are evolving so fast that manufacturers are forgetting about the basics.

Respondents to a survey by price comparison and switching service, uSwitch,  were asked what the one thing they cared most about in a smartphone, and the top five answers were:  27.6% how easy it is to use; 20.7% reception for calls; 20.5% battery life; 7.2% apps; and 4.8% email functionality.

Bottom of the list were design features such as a 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 helped Samsung smartphone sales beat Apple in the second quarter 2012 ­–­ however in the UK survey, only 7% deemed this feature as useful. Customised exteriors such as leather – as seen in LG’s G4 smartphone – 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[3] 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, said uSwitch. While almost a quarter (24%) of respondents said 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 said 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 are used by more than three in 10 (31%) smartphone users at least every month.

It seems many users also want tougher smartphones, with robust, anti-shatter screens top of the most-useful list, with 70% of smartphone owners agreeing these add value, and 57% of owners also rating waterproof handsets.

New flagship 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’d 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.

Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwitch, commented on the study: “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,” he added.



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