Hail the do-it-all device: buyers get wise to smartphones

You can check the weather forecast, do your banking and shopping, monitor emails and play Angry Birds. You can even take them to bed.

Smartphones have increasingly become one of the most dominant pieces of technology in Australian lives, with latest figures revealing that almost half of all mobile phone users in Australia have a smartphone.

Analysts expect that figure will rise even further and smartphones are tipped to take over as the most commonly used mobile phones in the country within the next year.

Chris Althaus, the chief executive of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, said smartphones had changed the way people lived and communicated.

''They are your personal epicentre … the dominant personal management advice,'' Mr Althaus said.

''Smartphones are by far and away the dominant device in terms of sales … statistics suggest that about 85 per cent of all new handsets are able to access the net.''

And Australians are leading the global charge in embracing the phones. ''We are one of the world's highest-adopting countries when it comes to smartphones,'' Mr Althaus said.

Apps had been a driving force in the ballooning popularity of smartphones, he said, with consumers spending 56 per cent of their time on their smartphones using apps. About 20 per cent of their usage is devoted to emailing or sending texts and just 15 per cent of their time is used to make a humble phone call, he said.

''Mobile broadband has meant there has been an explosion of apps,'' Mr Althaus said.


A recent Google study found Australians used more apps than their counterparts in the Britain or US and had an average 25 apps on their phones.

Andrew Volard, the director of devices at Telstra, said about 46 per cent of Australians now used a smartphone, compared with 31 per cent last year. "During the next year, the majority of people in Australia will have a smartphone," Mr Volard said.

Mr Volard said the huge popularity of smartphones was evident yesterday, when Apple's latest iPhone 4s hit Australian stores.

Telstra had 50,000 pre-registrations for the phone, and Apple said it had taken more than 1 million online global orders in the first 24 hours after its release, eclipsing the 600,000 orders it had for the iPhone 4.

Mr Volard said smartphones were not just for younger generations with recently released research compiled for Telstra showing almost one in five Australian smartphone owners were older than 50, and 41 per cent older than 40.

The research also showed more than half of smartphone owners admitted to using their smartphone in bed, with women the most likely users (54 per cent versus 49 per cent of men).