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A broken mobile screen – it’s every smartphone owner’s nightmare and can happen in a matter of seconds. New research on mobile phones from Mintel finds that in the last two years alone, as many as a quarter (24%) of UK smartphone owners have experienced this twenty-first century technological trauma.

Mintel research reveals those aged 16-24 are the nation’s most accident-prone age group, with 48% of these Brits smashing their screen in the last two years. And it is young women aged 16-24 (51%) who are most likely to have shattered their screen. By contrast, just 7% of owners aged 55+ have fallen victim to this modern-day irritation.

Meanwhile, those living in London (33%) and the West Midlands (28%) are most likely to have broken their screen; by contrast, just 19% of those living in the South East/East of England have experienced this annoyance.

But it seems that many Brits are prepared for this mishap, as a savvy 57% of smartphone owners keep their old phone as a spare. Meanwhile, proving foresight is a wonderful thing, an organised 26% of owners have insurance on their phone, rising to 33% of the clumsy 16-24 age group.

Adrian Reynolds, Senior Technology Analyst at Mintel, said:

Screen repair is an increasingly expensive issue, particularly among the young, as the costs associated with smartphones continue to rise. This is primarily due to increased usage and the fact that most young consumers have their phones with them at all times. With higher-quality and larger screens, as well as glass backs to facilitate wireless charging, device damage can be more costly than ever. Those without coverage could be hit with expensive repair bills. This creates an opportunity for manufacturers and particularly network providers to offer inclusive repairs for smashed screens. It also offers great potential business for independent repair companies and for the protective accessory market, focused on cases and clear screen covers.”

Nearly two thirds of owners will upgrade smartphones in the next two years

Four in ten (41%) users have owned their current smartphone for less than a year with a sizeable two thirds (64%) planning to upgrade their smartphone in the next two years. Meanwhile, over half (54%) of users not looking to upgrade intend to keep their phone as long as possible.

For those looking to upgrade their phone, extended battery life (72%) remains the leading upgrade factor. Meanwhile, 38% of consumers consider waterproofing a key upgrade feature, rising to 50% of 16-24-year-olds. However, while many tech-loving Brits live and die for the very latest technology, a thrifty 31% of smartphone owners would buy a second-hand smartphone.

Today, 83% of consumers own a smartphone, with the market plateauing over the last year. Some 20% still own a basic mobile phone, although this is often in addition to a smartphone.

“The vast majority of handsets bought in the short term will be replacements and upgrades rather than first-time buys. As mobile phones have become more sophisticated, Brits are holding onto devices longer. The incremental upgrades of many flagship mobile devices could struggle to entice consumers on an annual basis, beyond the most technologically engaged. Two-to-three-year-old smartphones are still perfectly capable of fulfilling the functions the majority of users require, so beyond loss and breakage, many are keeping their current devices.” Comments Adrian.

Fingerprint scanning is the most popular unlocking method

Finally, when it comes to enhancing security in both logging into smartphones and verifying identity to use apps and make purchases, manufacturers have embraced biometric technology. Some 39% of Brits prefer to unlock their phone using fingerprint scanners, followed by nearly a quarter (24%) who are happy to rely on PINs. While 14% use passwords, just under one in ten (8%) would feel most secure using facial recognition.

“When it comes to enhancing security in both logging into smartphones and verifying identity to use apps and make purchases, consumers have embraced biometric technology. We are now seeing further developments in this trend towards facial recognition on some flagship devices.” Concludes Adrian.

Research was carried out by Lightspeed among 2,000 internet users aged 16+ in November 2017.
Press copies of Mobile Phones 2018 report are available on request from the press office.