Press releases

There’s no place like phone: half of Irish consumers check smartphones in the middle of the night - Deloitte 

  • Survey of 1,000+ Irish consumers aged 18-75 reveals extent Irish consumers use smartphones.  The survey is nationally representative.
  • 7 out of 10 of 18-24 year olds check their phones in the middle of the night 
  • Almost 9 in 10 (87%) of  18-24 year-olds use their devices ‘always’ or ‘very often’ when using public transport, meeting friends, shopping or watching television
  • 86% of Irish consumers own or have access to a smartphone
  • 43% of all Irish smartphone owners take photos daily
  • 67%  report using Wi-Fi to connect to the internet most often
  • 16% are currently utilising fingerprint authorisation

Half of Irish consumers – and 7 out of 10 of 18-24 year olds - check their phones in the middle of the night, according to the latest research from Deloitte, the professional services and consulting firm. The top three nocturnal smartphone activities include checking the time (34%), text messages (19%), and social networks (6%).

Deloitte’s Mobile Consumer Survey, There’s no place like phone, which analyses the mobile usage habits of more than 1,000 Irish consumers, reveals that the smartphone is the primary device for Irish consumers – 86% own or have access to a smartphone, compared with laptops (80%) and tablets (60%).

A love of smartphones 

In addition to their nocturnal habits, 13% of smartphone owners instinctively reach for their phone as soon as they wake up – and not just to turn off their alarm. Just over a third (35%) reach for their phones within five minutes of waking, and a half within a quarter of an hour. Messages (28%) are the first thing respondents check on their smartphones in the morning, followed by social networks (18%) and personal emails (16%).

The research also reveals that smartphone usage is affecting social behaviour. Almost 9 in 10 (87%) of  18-24 year-olds use their devices ‘always’ or ‘very often’ when using public transport, meeting friends, shopping or watching television. A quarter use their phones when eating at home or out at a restaurant.

The 25-34 year old demographic most frequently has disagreements with their partner due to their mobile phone usage. 8% of this argue about this several times a week, while a further 8% disagree on this at least once a week.

Richard Howard, Head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications at Deloitte, commented: “Smartphone penetration is higher in Ireland compared to other countries, including the UK, supporting the notion that Ireland is generally a tech-savvy country and its people have a desire to stay connected.

“Smartphones usage can impact those who are around you. As with most emerging technologies, consumers will need to learn how best to manage their lives with smartphones, as opposed to having their lives run by their devices.”

App and snap happy 

App usage is particularly high amongst Irish consumers – excluding pre-installed apps, 20% of all Irish smartphone users have installed 11-20 apps on their smartphone. The top activities accessed using an app in Ireland are social media (55%), weather (54%) and navigation (53%).

With regard to content creation and sharing, 43% of all Irish smartphone owners take photos daily, compared to, for example, 27% of their UK counterparts. 21% of Irish smartphone owners upload or share photos from their phone using an app.

Video viewing on smartphone devices is very popular in Ireland with over half (57%) of smartphone owners regularly using their devices to watch short videos and almost half (42%) watching auto-play videos on social networks. These figures are significantly higher than the UK, where 43% of consumers watch short videos and 30% watch auto-play videos on social networks.

4G forecast 

4G adoption is lower in Ireland (41%) compared to the UK (54%) and Wi-Fi is proven to be the most popular connectivity option - 67% of smartphone users report using Wi-Fi to connect to the internet most often (versus 2G/3G/4G). 

Howard commented: “Adoption of 4G is expected to increase as operators continue to strengthen their 4G coverage across the country. In the next year, 32% of non 4G users in Ireland plan on subscribing. This is good news for Irish telecommunications companies who are already looking at 4.5G but who are also mindful of the capital expense in a time of decreasing revenues. 

“Our telco sector faces new challenges as mobile data usage and 4G customers increase. Currently, rural Ireland faces the biggest challenges with broadband speeds and mobile phone coverage. While we are still awaiting finalisation of the tender process around the National Broadband Plan, the question is whether the 30mbps per second the NBP promises is enough to transmit the technology we expect in 5 years’ time. 25mbps is required for 4k download viewing at present and we are already moving to 5k.” 

Mobile money 

Irish smartphone owners enjoy online shopping with 43% viewing shopping websites or apps at least once a week and 14% having paid for products online using their smartphone. 

However, only 12% of Irish people have used their smartphone to pay in-store for products despite the investment in device technology and payment infrastructure. Reasons identified for the lack of take-up of this option include consumers’ views that payments as not secure enough (26%) in addition to questioning the benefits of using smartphones for in-store payments (25%). 

Just 4% of Irish consumers pay for a taxi service via their mobile at least once a week, and similarly just 4% pay for public transport at least once a week also.

Not prints charming just yet - putting a finger on mobile security

According to Deloitte’s research, 22% of respondents recognise that their smartphone device has the option for fingerprint authorisation. However, just 16% are currently utilising this option. The PIN or password is overwhelmingly the most popular authentication option, as used by 76% of smartphones users.

Howard adds: “While the fingerprint has proven to be the most popular form of biometric security on smartphones, adoption remains relatively low amongst Irish consumers. For example, a fifth (21%) of all smartphone users in the UK are now using their fingerprints for a range of authentication-based applications, from unlocking their phones to approving transactions. We anticipate this to change - not only is it fast, taking a fraction of the time required to type a password, but it is also unforgettable and inconspicuous for the user.

“The growth of fingerprint and retina security is important. As biometrics becomes more common, consumers will find it easier - and safer - to pay for goods and services using their smartphones.”

IoT infancy

The results show that the demand for Internet of Things (IoT) devices appears to be in its infancy with Irish consumers. The “connected entertainment” category is the clear leader in IoT device ownership, with 29% and 26% of Irish consumers owning smart TVs and games consoles, respectively. In the next year, consumers intend to purchase smart TVs (16%), wireless speakers (12%) and connected surveillance / security systems (12%); however, device penetration is expected to remain low until cost and ease of use align with consumer expectations.  

About the research

The Ireland data set is part of Deloitte’s annual Global Mobile Consumer Survey, a multi-country online study of mobile phone users across the world. The 2016 study is comprised of 5 continents, 31 countries, and 53,000 respondents.

Data cited in this report are based on a nationally representative sample of 1,000+ Irish consumers aged 18-75. The sample follows a country specific quota on age, gender, region, work and socio-economic status. Fieldwork took place between May and June 2016 and was carried out by Ipsos MORI, an independent research firm, based on a question set provided by Deloitte.

For Further Information Please Contact 

Aoibheann O’Sullivan

Murray Consultants

01 498 0346 

Claire Quinn


01 417 2356 

About Deloitte 

At Deloitte, we make an impact that matters for our clients, our people, our profession, and in the wider society by delivering the solutions and insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. 

As one of the largest global professional services and consulting networks, with over 220,000 professionals in more than 150 countries, we bring world-class capabilities and high-quality services to our clients. 

In Ireland, Deloitte has over 2,000 people providing audit, tax, consulting, and corporate finance services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. Our people have the leadership capabilities, experience, and insight to collaborate with clients so they can move forward with confidence. 

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