Categories: MobilitySmartphones

Smartphone Users Want Basic Features, Not Gimmicks

British mobile users are increasingly unimpressed with the new ‘innovative’ features of flagship smartphones and want manufacturers to focus on basics like battery life, simplicity and durability, according to new research from uSwitch.

As fears of smartphone saturation heighten in an already competitive marketplace, the likes of Apple, Samsung and others are attempting to introduce new features to stand out from the crowd.

But when asked what they considered to be the single most important feature they desired in a mobile phone, 28 percent cited ease of use, 21 percent said call reception and another 21 percent said battery life.

No more gimmicks

Respondents were also asked what features they considered useful. Eight-eight percent said battery life, 70 percent cited a shatter-proof screen, 57 percent mentioned waterproof protection and 49 percent a zoom camera lens.

Fingerprint proof screens and finger-print scanning technology were deemed to be useful by around a third, while 27.4 percent value a good front-facing selfie camera. Just under 24 percent see mobile payment technology as important, while just 11 percent think 3D graphics are useful, 8 percent think a flexible phone is a good quality and 7.1 percent would want eyeball tracking.

Only 4 percent believe a curved screen – the headline feature of the recently announced Samsung S6 Edge+ – is useful.

The priorities of mobile users is emphasised by the fact that 62 percent agreed that smartphone development was occurring at such a pace that manufacturers were no addressing basic features. Indeed, just 57 percent of people said they had considered upgrading their handset over the past 12 months.

Back to basics

uSwitch says the rise of SIM-only tariffs and a longer replacement cycle are indicative of this feature fatigue.

“British smartphone users are wise to gimmickry,” said Ernest Doku, mobile expert at uSwitch. “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.”

Ericsson predicts 70 percent of the world will own a smartphone by 2020 as mobile internet coverage becomes and affordable devices become more available. However many manufacturers see more opportunities in emerging markets than in developed nations like the UK, where smartphone penetration is already high.

What do you know about the smartphones of 2015 so far? Try our quiz!

Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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