Smartphones: More Smart than Phone

By: Smartcomm

Even though our smartphones have phone functionalities and can make or receive calls, you may be surprised how infrequently talking actually takes place on a smartphone in comparison to other apps.

European telecom giant O2 has released a study showing that smartphone owners are spending a lot of time on their phones "not talking." In fact, the "phone" part of the smartphone is the 5th most used app. Four other apps rank above it: Internet browsing, engaging in social networks like Facebook and Twitter, playing games, and listening to music.

As journalist Megan Garber of the Atlantic says, "maybe we should stop calling smartphones 'phones.'" Garber explains that voice minutes per user have gone down since 2008 according to CTIA. The revolutionary iPhone, and other smartphones that followed, created a path for people to communicate in different ways (i.e. text and email). Smartphones created a cultural shift. Where once the smartphone was seen as a phone with the functionality of a computer, today it is a computer, with the functionality of a phone.

General Manager Devices for O2 in the UK David Johnson says, "Smartphones are now being used like a digital 'Swiss Army Knife,' replacing possessions like watches, cameras, books and even laptops." According to O2's study, the smartphone has started to replace a range of other possessions:

  • 54% use their phone as an alarm clock
  • 46% have gotten rid of their wrist watch and prefer to use their phone
  • 39% have switched to use their phone instead of a separate camera
  • 28% use their phone instead of a laptop
  • 11% use their phone, instead of a handset, for gaming
  • 6% use their phone in place of a TV or in place of a physical book

As for the amount of time spent by users on different apps and activities, here are those numbers:

  • Browsing the internet: 24.81 minutes
  • Checking social networks: 17.49 minutes
  • Playing games: 14.44 minutes
  • Listening to music: 15.64 minutes
  • Making calls: 12.13 minutes
  • Checking/writing emails: 11.1 minutes
  • Text messaging: 10.2 minutes
  • Watching TV/films: 9.39 minutes
  • Reading books: 9.3 minutes
  • Taking photographs: 3.42 minutes

All in all, the average smartphone owner spends 2.13 hours looking at their phone each day. That's almost 15 hours a week.

The following graph (provided in the Atlantic) depicts the amount of minutes per day spent on apps, as shown in the aforementioned bullet list.

UK mobile network O2

With the amount of smartphones being used in the US, (46% of US adults own a smartphone according to Pew Research), it only makes sense our spectrum supply is depleting. Browsing the internet, engaging in social networks, listening to music and playing online games all use up a heavy amount of spectrum. Add it all up and one can begin to understand the priority of finding a solution to the increased demand for mobile broadband spectrum.

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