In a congested smartphone market full of tech giants trying to beat rivals and entice consumers with biometric scanners, flexible and curving screens, advanced camera technology and security bolt-ons, you'd think users are a demanding lot. However, new research suggests otherwise -- and handset makers would be wise to go back to the basics.
A new survey conducted by uSwitch suggests that while smartphone services and features are evolving at a rapid pace, British consumers, at least, miss the basic forms and functions which make a handset simple to use, fun and most importantly, connect well.
Through research conducted online among pay-monthly consumers, uSwitch found that most subscribers are concerned about the basics when making purchase decisions. When asked what smartphone owners care most about in a handset, 29 percent were interested in a smartphone's ease of use, 19 percent wanted batteries to last well, and 19 percent were focused on call reception. Only three percent decided quirky or unique features mattered the most.
According to smartphone users surveyed, long battery life would make 89 percent of them more likely to buy a smartphone, while a waterproof body would sway two-thirds -- 67 percent in total -- and a zoom camera lens would make 66 percent of subscribers consider a new phone.
However, when it comes to quirky and unusual features, uSwitch says that the British are a "sceptical crowd, not easily swayed by gimmicks," and to back up this statement, 75 percent of respondents said features such as eye-tracking technology -- seen on the Samsung Galaxy S5 -- would not change their purchasing decisions. In addition, 69 percent said they wouldn't be lured by voice-activated assistants, such as Apple's Siri, and 62 percent aren't interested in 3D graphics, showcased at the launch of Amazon's Fire Phone.
After being asked the question, "If you were choosing a new smartphone, which of the following features would make you more likely to buy it?," the responses from users are below:
Of those that do have interesting and new features on their devices, 66 percent said they never use eye-tracking technology, and 55 percent never use voice-activated features. In addition, almost a third of those with a fingerprint scanner never use it, and instead stick to PIN codes, swipes or nothing at all.
According to the research, almost one in eight -- 13 percent -- of Brits do not own a smartphone, and instead cling to feature phones. When asked why, almost half -- 47 percent -- said they simply didn't feel that they needed a smartphone, while almost one in three were put off by the cost of switching. The over 65s are most likely to stick to feature phones, with almost a third -- 32 percent -- not owning a smartphone. In total, 60 percent stated they have no need for a Web-connected device.
Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com commented:
"It's becoming increasingly hard for smartphone makers to differentiate their handsets from those of their rivals. They hope that flash features like Fingerprint ID on the iPhone 5S, or Amazon’s Fire Phone and its ‘Dynamic Perspective’ display, will give their phones the edge. However, our research shows that many Brits can spot a gimmick from a mile away. It’s actually the basics that affect the everyday user experience -- like long battery life and a robust design -- that people really care about."