What’s A Smartphone For? Mostly Leisure, It Seems

What’s A Smartphone For? Mostly Leisure, It Seems

It seems Australians have overcome any lingering prejudice that “phones are just for talking”: a new study found 83 per cent of us use our mobiles for purposes other than calling and SMS. But we still favour personal and leisure activities over working on our phones.

Picture by Krytofr

The AIMIA Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index is based on a survey of 2115 Australian phone users. AIMIA conducted a similar study last year, and what struck me back then was how games were much more popular than productivity tools. Much the same holds true in this year’s results: 48 per cent of respondents said apps on their phone were entirely for personal use, with only 14 per cent seeing a mix of work and personal tasks and 2 per cent seeing work only. In this light, it will be a while before too many people try and emulate my feat of working solely on a phone for a week.

Over half (54 per cent) had used their phone to visit a site, 50 per cent had used it for a search, 25 per cent used it for banking and 20 per cent used it to make payments. Again, other recent data reinforces that we’re getting more comfortable with mobile payments.

In terms of communicative features, we’re getting more adventurous but well-established options still largely beat out newer choices. 63 per cent of us have used MMS on a phone; 55 per cent have sent an email, and 53 per cent have used social networking. Less popular? Instant messaging (26 per cent) and video calling (20 per cent).

The big point AIMIA itself emphasised was that more than half of respondents (63 per cent) said they had a specific data package with their mobile phone. This need for connectivity (not just calls and texting) has been evident in all sorts of other ways (Telstra’s launch of the data-only LTE network springs to mind). With that said, given that the average monthly spend was under $40 for 39 per cent of respondents, the amount of data included might not be large.

Other trends of note:

  • 49 per cent of respondents said they either owned a tablet or planned to get one in the next 12 months. That’s interesting, but let’s not overstate it: it also means that plenty of people still don’t see a major role for a tablet in their life.
  • Apple was the most common handset brand (32 per cent), followed by Nokia (13 per cent), HTC (8 per cent), Sony Ericsson (5 per cent), LG (4 per cent) and BlackBerry (3 per cent). Those numbers weren’t broken down by platform, so we can’t tell from that what the level of (say) Android or Windows Mobile usage was.


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  • Interestingly 35% of mobile users have some kind of freaky unknown brand… Which would account for less than 3% each, which leaves at least 12 brands unaccounted for.

    Can anyone name all 12?

    • I would imagine a pretty big chunk of that 35% would be taken up by Samsung and Motorola. Weird that these two pretty major players weren’t mentioned.

      • Because it was in order of how common each was, and the 5th one listed was 3%, the 6th and beyond most popular handsets can be a maximum of 3% each I think is the reasoning. So we have Samsung and Motorola, ten to go?

  • as a student, a smartphone is great. I can look at study material and send emails, and even listen to music or watch lectures online. For science students such as me who often have to deal with outdated formats such as TIFF, having an android app that can open them is a lifesaver.
    though, to be fair. I do use my smartphone for leisure a lot as well.

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