Deloitte reveals UK’s obsession with phones


About a third of UK smartphone users, 11 million UK adults, look at their phone within five minutes of waking up, according to new research by Deloitte on UK mobile usage habits. This compares with 67% of 18-24 year olds who do so within 15 minutes.

  • A fifth of respondents considered network quality for internet use (20%) as more important than network quality for phone calls (16%)
  • Only a fifth (20%) of respondents with 4G has watched more video since subscribing to 4G, compared to 49% in 2013.

East of England waking routine 
The waking routine of most smartphone owners now starts with checking who has been in touch with them overnight. In the East of England, most smartphone owners first check their text messages (34%), followed by email (22%), and then social networks (17%).

Deloitte’s research shows people can’t leave their phones alone once awake, with about one in six of us looking at them more than 50 times a day. Eighteen to 24 year-olds are the most intensive users, checking their device on average 53 times a day and for 13% the figure is more than 100 times. In comparison, 65-75 year olds only check their device a mere 13 times a day on average and 56% less than 10 times.

Julian Rae, technology partner at Deloitte, comments:  “Mobile phones have clearly become something of an addiction for many and has led to some people looking to unplug their devices and undergo a digital detox. In the UK there are now digital detox camps where you surrender your phone to experience ‘life off the grid’, following the trend in Silicon Valley.”

Connectivity – core smartphone functionality
When consumers were asked about why they may change their mobile network provider in the future, network quality for internet use (20%) was more important than network quality for phone calls (16%) for smartphone owners.

Paul Lee, head of technology, media and telecommunications research at Deloitte, adds: “The smartphone has rapidly become the device that many of us cannot live without. The demand for uninterrupted internet connectivity will increase as what we do with our phones becomes ever more important. Mobile operators need to ensure their networks can support these critical devices.”

Video star fails to take off with 4G        
When 4G was launched in 2013, Deloitte asked respondents with 4G which applications they were using more frequently. Watching video was the number one response. This year, among a much larger base of 4G subscribers, watching video had fallen to seventh place. Only a fifth (20 per cent) of respondents watched more video since subscribing to 4G, a significant decline compared to 49 per cent in 2013. Email and social networks are now the applications which have been used more since adopting 4G.

Poor video take-up could be related to fears about data allowances: about a quarter of 4G subscribers have a data allowance of less than one gigabyte which allows approximately one hour of video streaming. A third of 4G subscribers have a data allowance of between one and three gigabytes.

Rae concludes: “In the short-term, 4G data allowances may continue to inhibit video consumption. Watching video on 4G will remain occasional and used for short video clips rather than films or TV programmes. While 4G may not be changing the services for which smartphones are used, it is certainly enhancing the use of existing services.

“Some smartphone users may avoid Wi-Fi networks especially when manual sign-in is required, such as in coffee shops and while commuting. This may create the need for higher data allowances, thus increasing operators’ ability to charge a premium for 4G.”


About Deloitte

In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.



The Deloitte Cambridge office comprises 8 Partners and over 250 staff who deliver a full range of professional services to the East Anglian region. As well as focussing on the life sciences and technology sectors for which the region has become so renowned, the office has long standing specialisms in other sectors including the professions, consumer business, food and agribusiness.

Deloitte LLP