Americans are checking their phones now more than ever, report says

Sixty-three percent of those surveyed by Deloitte are trying to cut back their screen time, but only around half of them are successful in doing so.

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Abrar Al-Heeti
3 min read
Phone addiction

Americans check their phones an average of 52 times a day, according to Deloitte.

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Our phone addiction isn't getting any better.

Across virtually all age groups, Americans look at their phones more often than ever before -- an average of 52 times a day, according to Deloitte's 2018 Global Mobile Consumer Survey. That's up from 47 times a day last year. 

It's a habit many people are trying to cut, according to the consulting firm's survey. Around 40 percent of people say they use their phones too much. Additionally, 60 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds admit they're hooked on their devices. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they're trying to limit their usage, but only around half actually succeed.  

The number of smartphones also continues to grow, with 85 percent of Americans owning one -- up 3 percent from 2017. The strongest growth is among US consumers aged 45 and up, with saturation in that group rising 7 percent. 

"This year's survey really advances the story of smartphones as the true center of our lives, both inside and outside the home," Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and US telecommunications, media and entertainment sector leader at Deloitte, said in a statement. "The smartphone remains the go-to device for consumers, enabling them to do anything they desire: communicate, work, socialize, consume entertainment, stay fit or take care of things at home."

Americans aren't the only ones who are attached to their phones. According to an August report by telecommunications regulator Ofcom, 78 percent of adults in the UK own a smartphone, and Brits check their phones every 12 minutes.

While smartphone ownership has increased, tablets haven't been so lucky, Deloitte says. They had the biggest year-over-year decline in market saturation of any device category, dropping from 62 percent last year to 57 percent this year, according to the firm. This has likely been driven by the fact that many phones now have larger screens, Deloitte notes.

Smartwatches, on the other hand, experienced positive growth, according to the survey. They're now used by 14 percent of Americans, up one percent from last year. Daily usage for wearables has gone up for both owners of fitness bands (from 53 percent last year to 60 percent this year) and smartwatches (from 62 percent last year to 67 percent this year).

Voice assistants -- the 'next big thing'

The growing adoption of voice control suggests it could be "the next big thing in human computer interaction, after touch," according to Deloitte's survey. Around two-thirds of people have used their phone's voice assistant, an increase of 11 percent from 2017.

Ownership of smart speakers has also gone up, nearly doubling from last year -- going from 12 percent to 20 percent. 

Sixty-nine percent of smart speaker owners say they use their voice-assistance capabilities weekly, and 47 percent say they use it daily. 

Eager for 5G

Consumers also have a growing interest in 5G , according to Deloitte. Sixty percent of respondents said 5G is either "fairly" or "very" important to them, compared with 55 percent last year. That interest increased across the board, regardless of age. In fact, it rose from 22 percent last year to 31 percent this year among Americans 65 and up.

Still, 5G had the highest perceived importance among people between the ages of 25 and 34, with 77 percent saying they believe it's either "fairly" or "very" important.

"Consumers are craving more speed and responsiveness as their usage patterns mature," said Mic Locker, managing director in Deloitte Consulting's technology, media and telecommunications
industry practice, in a statement. "It will be interesting to watch the availability of 5G networks and 5G-enabled smartphones over the next year to see if consumers' yearning for better performance is satisfied."

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