9 out of 10 Australian citizens now own a smartphone

18 December 2018 Consultancy.com.au 4 min. read

A new report has revealed that just one in every 10 consumers in Australia do not have a smartphone. Australians are holding onto their mobile phones for longer, using more data, and using their devices to stream TV on demand.

Across the world, smartphone technology is permeating every market available at a rapid rate. Last year in the UK, the 85% of citizens using smartphones even surpassed the 78% with laptops, showing just how quickly the relatively young technology has expanded. In Australia, the effects have been witnessed even more prominently.

According to the Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey 2018, 89% of 2,000 Australians surveyed now own a smartphone, up from 88% in 2017 and 84% in 2016. While this represents a slowing of penetration over the past two years, this is partially because the market is simply running out of new consumers to expand service to. As was the case with the UK, Australians are now more likely to own a smartphone than a laptop, with only 76% saying they own or have ready access to a laptop.

Commenting on the figures, Deloitte Partner and National Telecommunications Lead Peter Corbett said, “The smartphone is becoming even more central to the way we work (70% of us use smartphones for work, while 90% of businesses rank a connected work place in their top priorities), the way we access entertainment and how we carry out our daily lives… Over the last 10 years, the story of mobility has focused on access - the proportion of phone users is now unlikely to rise significantly.”

Which of the following devices do you own or have ready access to?

The Australian market, like most others, is still dominated by Apple and Samsung, with the warring duo accounting for 42% and 35% of the respective handsets among surveyed mobile consumers. As is suggested by the fact the market is nearing full saturation, meanwhile, these smartphone users are not just from younger generations. In last year's survey, the largest growth in smartphone penetration was among the 'silver surfers' – consumers aged over 55.

Currently, smartphones are the nation’s preferred device for short video, while televisions remain the preferred device for streaming films/TV and watching catch-up or live TV. Despite this, a rising number of Australian mobile consumers are using their smartphones to view long-form content on a regular basis – something which improving streaming rates and falling mobile data costs have both encouraged. With the advent of 5G – the next generation of super-fast mobile internet – now on the horizon, tuning in to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime to kill time during the commute to work could be set to see a further boost.

As it stands, almost a quarter of surveyed smartphone users now use their mobiles to watch live TV on a weekly basis, an increase from 19% in 2017 and 6% in 2016. Similar increases are evident in streaming and catch-up content. 23% of smartphone users stream films/TV series on their mobiles on a weekly basis compared to 18% in 2017, while 19% use their mobiles to watch catch-up TV compared to 15% in 2017.

Do you try to limit mobile phone usage because you think you are spending too much time on it?

While Australians seem increasingly willing to whip out their hand-held to keep themselves entertained at all hours of the day, however, they also seem to be developing a phone-fatigue in line with many other leading smartphone markets. A large number of adults now think they use their phone too much, with a sizeable portion now attempting to limit their time using their mobiles.

Of all age groups, it is the 25-34 year olds surveyed who are feeling this most acutely, with 64% now trying to cut down on their usage. This is least likely to be seen among 45-54 year olds, however even then, half of all those surveyed said they were trying to crack down on their usage.

Commenting on the findings, Deloitte Consulting Partner Kate Huggins said that the rise of ‘telco-tainment’, including the bundling of video TV streaming and entertainment services with phone contracts, unlimited data plans, and mobile enabled streaming services, was a large factor behind Australians choosing to watch more long-form video content on their phones.