UK Smartphones Market Report 2024
The cost of living crisis is putting a spotlight on value, longevity and the refurbished/second-hand smartphone market. This presents a primary threat to the market as consumers are not replacing…

UK Smartphones Market Report 2024

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Report Summary

Stay ahead of the curve and future-proof your business with Mintel’s Smartphones Market Report 2024. Our full report is packed with consumer-led market intelligence, the latest market research, trends, and consumer behaviours affecting your business. Get a 360° view of the UK mobile market, including smartphone market size, market share and forecasted growth to help you align your business strategy with the needs of your audience.

Below, we’ve handpicked the key insights analysed in the full report and summarised the core topics.

Key Topics Featured in Full Report

  • How the UK mobile market is expected to perform over the next five years.
  • The product features that are most important to people when choosing a new smartphone, such as long battery life and a high quality camera.
  • Smartphone camera features that consumers feel are worth paying more for, with high resolution images and optical zoom in the lead.
  • Artificial intelligence features that consumers are most interested in having on their smartphone.
  • Interest in the refurbished/second hand market and ownership of smartphone insurance.
  • Brand research on selected smartphone brands, including usage, awareness and perceptions.

UK Smartphone Market Outlook

The cost of living crisis is putting a spotlight on value, longevity and the refurbished/second-hand smartphone market. This presents a primary threat to the UK mobile market as consumers are not replacing their smartphones as frequently as in the past, as indicated by the popularity of SIM-only contracts and the decline of mobile phone unit sales.

  • Smartphone market size: Mintel records that while volume sales were down the market remained stable, reaching £5.8 billion in 2023.

The EU’s right to repair legislation will likely help to extend the smartphone lifecycle, making refurbished smartphones more desirable for future generations. Now is the time to innovate smartphone design for easy repairability and lock in consumers loyalty.

Brands in the UK smartphone market have an opportunity to boost interest in smartphones with new technology and AI features by combating concerns that AI promotes cognitive laziness and dependency by marketing them as empowering tools. For example, screening incoming calls for scams can be framed as protecting the vulnerable, real-time language translation features can be positioned as tools for travellers in an emergency situation, and brands can analyse smartphone use to offer personalised mental health advice and combat the negative effects of too much screen time.

  • UK mobile market consumer behaviour: 43% of UK women are worried about how they will use artificial intelligence (AI) on smartphones.

UK Smartphone Market Definitions

Smartphones are defined as any portable computer capable of making calls, sending and receiving data (either over a mobile or wi-fi network) and downloading, installing and running applications from an app store.

Meet the Expert

Nikita researches and writes UK reports for the Technology and Media sector. She has previously worked on consumer insights in the Food & Drink, Retail and Household Care sector. Nikita has a MA in Social Anthropology from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Despite the launch of new innovative AI features, longer battery life is still the feature consumers feel is most important when choosing a smartphone.

Nikita Shergill, Mintel Analyst

Nikita Shergill
Research Analyst


Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary

    • Opportunities for the smartphone market
    • Build the ultimate smartphone
    • Offer insightful data on mental health using AI tools
    • Improve ethical image by being a responsible AI brand
    • Market dynamics and outlook
    • Market size & forecast
    • Market predictions
    • Mobile phone market expected to grow at sluggish pace
    • Apple and Samsung dominate the smartphone market
    • Graph 1: ownership of smartphone brand, 2024
    • What consumers want and why
    • Room for competitive marketing in battery life and superiority
    • Graph 2: features that would encourage consumers to purchase one smartphone over another, 2024
    • Improve smartphone camera inclusivity
    • Graph 3: consumers who think its worth paying more for camera features that capture true to life colours (eg skin tone), by ethnicity, 2024
    • Use AI to protect the vulnerable and elderly from scams and financial abuse
    • Position AI as a tool for empowerment
    • Graph 4: interest in artificial intelligence features, 2024
    • Innovation and marketing
    • AI drives new product innovations
    • Samsung focuses on AI features in 2024
  2. Market Dynamics

    • Market size
    • Mobile sales continued to drop in 2023…
    • Graph 5: volume of mobile phone sales, 2018-23
    • …but high inflation increases overall market value
    • Graph 6: value of mobile phone sales, 2018-23
    • Cost of living crisis and ‘peak’ innovation slows down demand
    • Market forecast
    • Mobile unit sales forecasted to reach 16.5 million in 2028
    • Mobile phone market forecasted to be worth £6.4 billion in 2028
    • Now is the time to innovate smartphone design for easy repairability
    • Market share
    • Samsung and Apple dominate the smartphone market
    • Graph 7: ownership of smartphone brand, 2022-24
    • Brand ownership reflects levels of trust
    • Graph 8: Samsung and Apple smartphone brand ownership, by age, 2024
    • Macro-economic factors
    • Falling inflation has reduced pressure on household finances
    • Graph 9: CPI inflation rate, 2021-24
    • Consumer confidence continued to trend upwards
    • Graph 10: the financial confidence index, 2016-24
    • Consumer sentiment: wellbeing is up but the recovery has slowed
    • Graph 11: the financial wellbeing index, 2016-24
    • Social, environmental and legal factors
    • Right to repair will influence product design
    • Second hand market vulnerable to peak innovation
    • Phone contracts decline whilst SIM-only increase
    • Graph 12: payment plan on personal mobile contract used most often, 2020-23
    • AI will boost smartphone innovation
  3. What Consumers Want and Why

    • Baby Boomers boost smartphone ownership
    • Graph 13: ownership of technology including smartphones, 2020-24
    • “Digital detoxing” breaks may boost basic phone ownership
    • Graph 14: ownership of a basic mobile phone, by age, 2024
    • Important smartphone features
    • Long battery life is the most important smartphone feature
    • Graph 15: features that would encourage consumers to purchase one smartphone over another, 2024
    • Maximise reach by spotlighting battery life, trusted brand and camera quality in marketing
    • Improve and promote battery longevity
    • Graph 16: importance of having a long battery life, by smartphone brand owners, 2024
    • Appeal to a larger audience by promoting authentic beauty when promoting smartphone cameras
    • Be more relatable with realistic beauty images
    • Graph 17: importance of high quality camera in smartphones, 2024
    • Motorola is vulnerable to brand switching
    • Graph 18: importance of being a ‘favourite brand’ when deciding which smartphone to buy, by smartphone brand owners, 2024
    • Promote features that withstand the test of time
    • Importance of large internal storage differs for brand owners
    • Graph 19: importance of large internal storage, by smartphone brand owners, 2024
    • Camera features
    • Consumers prioritise high-resolution image quality above all else
    • Graph 20: camera features worth paying more for, 2024
    • Young consumers want to create their own personal brand online
    • Graph 21: willingness to pay more for photo editing software, by Samsung and Apple smartphone owners, 2024
    • Build an inclusive camera
    • Cater to darker skin tones
    • Graph 22: consumers who think its worth paying more for camera features that capture true to life colours (eg skin tone), by ethnicity, 2024
    • Put photo quality at the centre of marketing campaigns
    • Focus on image quality when promoting AI editing tools
    • Artificial intelligence features
    • Younger consumers are most eager for AI
    • Graph 23: interest in artificial intelligence features, 2024
    • Be seen as a responsible and ethical AI brand
    • Future-proof AI watermarks from editing loop-holes
    • Highlight how AI can protect the vulnerable
    • Graph 24: interest in an AI feature that answers incoming calls to find out who is calling, by age, 2024
    • Position AI as a emergency tool
    • Show how AI can bring back your identity
    • Graph 25: interest in an AI feature that converts text responses to a digital copy of your voice, by age, 2024
    • Manage smartphone use with AI
    • Men need more wellbeing support…
    • Graph 26: interest in AI feature that makes personalised recommendations to improve mental health based on smartphone use, by age and gender, 2024
    • …through tailored advice with technology that resonates with them
    • Smartphone behaviours
    • Consumers fear loss of control of their own data
    • Graph 27: smartphone behaviours, 2024
    • Consumers don’t want to be AI dependent
    • Develop strategies to reduce AI misuse
    • Drive awareness of the limitations of home content insurance for smartphones
    • Graph 28: consumers who have insurance on their current smartphone (excluding home insurance), by age, 2024
    • Samsung owners enjoy superior battery life
    • Graph 29: current smartphone is more than three years old and the battery lasts all day, by brand, 2024
    • Right to Repair will boost the used and refurbished market
    • Improved repairability likely to extend smartphone lifecycle
    • Graph 30: smartphone users whose next smartphone will be a refurbished/second hand one, by age, 2024
    • iPhone users prefer to sell their device rather than use trade-in schemes
    • Graph 31: consumers who would rather sell their old smartphone than use a trade-in scheme, by smartphone brand ownership, 2024
  4. Innovation And Marketing Trends

    • Launch activity and innovation
    • External screen functionality maximised
    • AI smartphone cameras makes everyone a creator
    • Smartphone repairs made convenient
    • OnePlus introduces Aqua Touch
    • OnePlus demonstrates the power of Aqua Touch with a stormy weather challenge
    • App-free smartphone
    • Fairest smartphone battery in the industry
    • Advertising and marketing activity
    • Samsung was the biggest ATL ad spender in 2023
    • Samsung focuses on AI features in 2024
    • Lots of storage for photos on the iPhone
    • The Pixel 8a is filled with Google AI
  5. Brand Research

    • Samsung Galaxy most trusted but Apple iPhone remains the stand out brand
    • Apple iPhone delivers the best experience
    • Brands are challenged to keep pace with Apple and Samsung’s innovation
    • Samsung Galaxy continues to make positive strides
    • Graph 32: consumer attitudes towards Samsung Galaxy, 2022-24
  6. Appendix

    • Market forecast data and methodology
    • Market forecast and prediction intervals (value)
    • Market forecast and prediction intervals (volume)
    • Forecast methodology
    • Report scope and definitions
    • Market definition
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Methodology
    • Consumer research methodology
    • TURF analysis of smartphone features worth choosing one over another
    • TURF analysis of smartphone camera features worth paying more for
    • Nielsen Ad Intel coverage

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