• As smartphones get smarter, we spend more time on phones than with partners according to “Mobile Life” 2013 report
  • Average smartphone user puts in two hours a day with their handset – a third more than with partner
  • Chat makes a comeback as more smartphone owners use their phones for calls and text messages

We now spend more time on our mobile phones every day than we do with our partners according to the O2 & Samsung “Mobile Life” 2013 report, carried out by O2 and Samsung to mark the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4.

The research found that, while the average British smartphone owner spends 97 minutes a day with their nearest and dearest, they spend 119 minutes – just shy of two hours – on their phones.

Between using phones to browse the web (for 24 minutes a day on average), checking in on social networks (for over 15 minutes), listening to music (which takes another 15 minutes) and playing games (for over 12 minutes a day on average), the report found that the phone has truly become our best friend.

The report also found that while making phone calls is still only the fifth most time-consuming activity to which we put our mobiles – coming below internet use, social networking, using the phone to listen to music and gaming – it’s something we’re spending more time doing since last year.

How long we spend using our smartphones (by activity) each day

Activity Time per day in mins
Browsing the internet 24
Checking social networks 16
Listening to music 15
Playing games 13
Making calls 13
Text messaging 11
Checking/writing emails 9
Reading books 8
Watching TV/films 7
Taking photographs 3
Total 119


David Johnson, General Manager Devices for O2 in the UK, said: “Smartphones are getting smarter all the time with huge leaps being made in screens, sensor technology, camera, audio and processors which can make using and interacting with the phone on the go a pleasure. However, that’s also meant that we’re now spending more time with our eyes glued to the screen than gazing into our partners’ eyes.

“Mobile phones have a central part to play in our lives and new responsive technology is making them easier to use and more intuitive, while at the same time packed with more and more functions to make using the phone a more pleasurable experience. We’re seeing a new generation of phones that react more readily to their users and have truly become home entertainment devices.”

Chat makes a comeback

The O2 and Samsung “Mobile Life” 2013 report – which quizzed over 2,000 UK adult phone users – found that, while chatting might be only the fifth most-used function of a smartphone, talking has made a comeback over the past twelve months.

In 2012, when the first report was carried out, fewer than three quarters (71%) of smartphone users said they used their phones to make calls, while even fewer used their phones to text message (69%). However, these are the two things that have seen the biggest increase in usage – with over four in five now saying that they put their smartphones to the use they were originally intended.

What we use our phones for:

Function %age yes %age change, yoy
Making phone calls 83% +12%
Text messaging 82% +13%
Taking photographs 81% +7%
Surfing the internet 73% +4%
Alarm clock 70% +6%
Email 59% +7%
As a watch 57% +7%
Address book 53% +3%
Social networking 50% +1%
Music  42% +2%
Diary 41% +2%
Playing games 37% -1%
Watching TV/films 22%
Reading books 12% -1%


The “Mobile Life” report also found that phones are also being used to a greater extent for a wide range of functions – including photography, internet usage, as watches and alarm clocks and as an address book and diary.

O2 and Samsung found that, for many people, these habits have gone so far that the smartphone is replacing other possessions:

  • Over half (57%) say they use their phones in place of an alarm clock
  • Half (50%) have dispensed with a watch in favour of using their smartphone
  • Almost half (46%) have switched to use their phone instead of a separate camera
  • A quarter use their phone instead of a laptop (25%)
  • Over one in ten have got shot of a games console in favour of their handset (12%)
  • Perhaps indicative of where things are moving, one in twenty smartphone users have switched to use their phone in place of a TV (5%) or reading physical books (4%)

David Johnson continued: “This year has been all about phones – and applications that run on them – that turn handsets into an all-in-one digital device, combining work and play so users can switch from watching a film to sending a work email to text messaging a loved one seamlessly. Our customers are looking for phones to bring all their digital lives into a single place – the one device they carry around daily – and I think we’ll see even more innovation to come.”

The O2 and Samsung “Mobile Life” report was conducted amongst 2,000 Smartphone users in the UK on 4 May 2013. It marks the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 on O2: the handset designed to be your “Life Companion”, and was was based on research conducted by OnePoll under strict Market Research Society guidelines between 1 May and 4 May 2013.

Journalists can contact the Virgin Media O2 press office on:
press@virginmediao2.co.uk 01753 565656
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