Last week we conducted a huge research in London to find out if UK adults are familiar with the latest technologies. We first of all asked 1268 people that were 55 and older if they used smartphones and feature phones, and it turned out that more than 37% (37.2%, to be more precise) of them owned at least one smartphone. We also found out that 58.1% of UK adults have feature phones, and the number of those who didn’t own any mobile device at all was quite small – only 4.7%.
In our society, 55+ adults are considered to be unaware of the trends in the world of technologies, but our research showed that this stereotype was wrong: 37% is quite a big number, and though it might be a bit different in other cities outside London, it still proves that not only young people are interested in smartphones and other modern gadgets.
On the other hand, we have found out that 55+ smartphone owners usually don’t use the features of their devices. Moreover, most of their phones were bought for them by other people
It’s interesting that most of our smartphone owner respondents haven’t chosen their devices themselves: 62.5% of them got the old smartphones of their children or other relatives who bought more advances devices and didn’t need the old ones anymore (so they could use feature phones, too, had their relatives used those instead of smartphones); and only 37.5% chose and bought the smartphone they wanted
We also asked those of our smartphone-owning respondents about the operating systems their devices ran, and Android turned out to be the most popular platform – it was on 26.9% of all smartphones. 21.4% of respondents had iPhones (the old iPhone 3GS was the most popular; only several people had iPhone 4, and a few had an iPhone 4S), 18.8% had Nokia’s Symbian phones, and 14.7% had BlackBerries with QWERTY keyboards. It’s interesting that we didn’t meet any adult who had a Windows Phone device, but I guess it could have been expected – this OS is rather new, and perhaps it’ll need some time to appear in the hands of adults, too. It’s also interesting that 18.2% of respondents didn’t know or just didn’t care what platform their phones ran (most of them didn’t know what phrases like “operating system” or “mobile platform” really mean).
We were also interested in how 55+ adults used their smartphones: did they know about all the features and capability their devices had? It turned out that 68% of our respondents used their smartphones to make calls only – “that’s what phones are designed for”. 18% sent text messages, too, or at least knew how to do it. Only 9% of our respondents said they also used their smartphones to surf the net, check emails etc., 4% used the camera, too, and only about 1% (just a few people) was interested in social networking, too.
The overwhelming majority of our respondents didn’t use any apps or didn’t know what apps were. Only 7% of the smartphone owners we talked to said they had downloaded at least one app, and only 3% said they had ever paid money for an app.
As I have already mentioned above 58.1% of our respondents had feature phones, and that’s 736 people out of 1268. The most popular brands were Samsung, Motorola and Nokia (almost all with hardware keyboards), though we met several very old Sony Ericsson phones, too.
We asked our respondents if they liked their phones and if they wanted more advanced smartphones. About 78% of them said they didn’t want smartphones – their feature phones had all they wanted, and the rest said they would actually like to have more modern devices with touchscreens.
We also tried to find out what features phones were used for. As one could have expected, most of our respondents said they only made calls, but the number of those who sent text messages, too, was bigger than in case of smartphones – almost 30%.
We would like to repeat the same research next year to find out what will change in that period.
And in our upcoming surveys we’ll try to find out what other modern gadgets are actively used by 55+ adults in the UK.