A new report commissioned by the team at Mobile Phones Direct has unveiled Brit’s mobile phone habits. From using their phone in the shower, on a date and in work meetings, we’ve asked the questions everyone secretly wants to know the answers to.

From a survey of 2,000 respondents, we’ve delved deeper into our relationships with our phones, finding out whether Gen Z-ers really do have a higher screen time than Boomers and which cities spend the most time talking to their friends and family.


Generation age ranges

Generation Z – 16 – 26
Millennial / Generation Y – 27 – 42
Generation X – 43 – 58
Baby Boomer – 59 – 77
The Silent Generation – 78+

Key stats


  •  70% of Brits admit to keeping hold of an old mobile phone, rather than selling it on or trading it in
  •  A third of Brits admit to using their phone while in bed with their partner
  •  One in four Brits experience anxiety when they are without their mobile phone
  •  Brits spend on average 23 minutes a day chatting with friends and family on the phone
  •  One in five won’t answer the phone if they don’t recognise the number
  •  More than 50% would rather give up coffee than give up their phone
  • Brits upgrade their phone on average every three year

Generation Z and Millennials have the highest average screen time


Young people get a lot of stick for living their lives through their phones, but the data doesn’t lie. Our survey revealed that those aged 16-26 had the highest average screen time, with almost one in three spending between two and three hours on their phone a day. A quarter (25%) spend 4-5 hours on their phones every day, and 15% spend between 6 and 7 hours.

Survey data also revealed that of all the generations, Generation X (those aged between 43 and 58) are most likely to feel anxious about being without their phone, with around 30% admitting to feeling anxious they aren’t receiving important messages.

However, the younger, digital-first generations proved their penchant for all things screen-related as they took the crown for most likely to feel sad or frightened at the thought of being without their phone, with more than one in five agreeing.


In contrast, one in three Boomers said that being without their phone “doesn’t bother me” with only 15% of Gen Z-ers agreeing.

When looking at the gender split, women are more anxious about being without their phone, with one in three agreeing it would put them on edge, compared to one in five men.

Men are also 44% more likely to appreciate the peace and quiet of being without their mobile phones compared to women.



43% admit to using their phone…on the loo!


We know it can be hard to resist using your phone when you know you shouldn’t, but survey data has revealed some interesting insights about how far we’ll go to answer a message or scroll on social media…

45% of us will go on our phones while in conversation with friends and family and when we’re out socialising enjoying dinner or drinks, unable to wait until we’re alone with our devices.

Women are found to be the worst culprits for this, with one in two admitting to using their phone while out with family or friends compared to 40% of men.

Females are also more likely to use their phone at the dinner table, in bed with a partner, at a concert, at a wedding and when making a purchase in a shop. One in three also confirmed they go on their phone when they are in bed with their partner and almost one in five (17%) admit to having gone on their phone on a date!

It appears we can’t even resist the pull of our phones when out running errands, with 41% saying they’ve been on the phone when making a purchase in a shop. Even more shockingly, 17% confess to going on their phones during a work meeting, with one in five men admitting to this.

But perhaps most concerningly at all, is the data that reveals Brits will even take their phones on a trip to the bathroom with a massive 41% admitting to using the phone on the toilet and one in ten even using it in the shower.

Millennials were found to be the dirtiest phone users, with more than one in two (55%) admitting to taking their phone to the toilet, while one in five (22%) Gen Z-ers went as far as taking theirs into the shower.



Is 2023 the end of the humble voicemail?


Advocates of a classic voicemail can breathe a sigh of relief, with survey data showing that 90% of Brits still have voicemail set up on their phones.

However, just one in five people bother to actually listen to a voicemail before returning a phone call, with most people (30%) opting to call again later if the recipient doesn’t answer the phone and one in four (25%) simply choosing to send a quick text (25%).

Among Generation X (those aged 43-58) and the Boomers, the voicemail lives on, with 25% saying they always listen to a voicemail before returning a call.

Just one in ten Gen Z-ers bother with voicemails, with the vast majority opting to send a follow-up text.

The younger generations (Gen Z and Gen Y) are also the most likely to “give up” and not bother to attempt to contact the recipient if they don’t answer a phone call, likely choosing alternative ways of communicating.


The UK’s chattiest cities revealed


Glasgow gains the top spot for the UK’s chattiest city, with Glaswegians spending on average 35 minutes a day chatting to friends and family on the phone.

In second place was Norwich, where residents spend just under half an hour (28 minutes) catching up with loved ones.

Coming in last place is Southampton, where people spend just 13 minutes a day talking to friends and family.

The top ten chattiest cities are:

  1.  Glasgow – 35 minutes
  2.  Norwich – 28 minutes
  3.  London – 28 minutes
  4.  Edinburgh. – 26 minutes
  5.  Liverpool – 25 minutes
  6.  Newcastle – 24 minutes
  7.  Sheffield – 23 minutes
  8.  Cardiff – 22 minutes
  9.  Birmingham 22 minutes
  10.  Nottingham – 20 minutes

Phones or coffee: you decide


Many of us need a hit of caffeine to function day to day, but when pushed on whether they would give up their phone or coffee, more than one in two (57%) of Brits said they would rather “give up coffee, I need my phone for everything”.

Delving into the data, women seem more reliant on their phones than men, with almost two-thirds (61%) saying they’d drop coffee over their phones compared to 54% of men. More than one in four (27%) of men surveyed said they couldn’t part with their favourite beverage, compared to just 17% of women.

It was an easy choice for those aged 16-26, with 66% saying they would give up coffee. By contrast, the decision wasn’t as clear-cut for those in the Boomer generation, with just under half (48%) saying if they had to choose, they would give up coffee.


The most caffeine-obsessed cities…


When pushed to choose between coffee and their phones, some cities didn’t stick to the status quo, with around one-third of people in Norwich, Plymouth, Southampton and Liverpool all saying they would rather give up their phones than give up coffee.

By comparison, Glasgow and Belfast seem most reliant on their mobile phones, with two-thirds of respondents from both cities saying there’s no way they could part with their phones.

This sentiment was echoed by Geordies (65%), Londoners (64%) and those from Sheffield. (60%)

The cities with the biggest phone addictions are:

  1. Glasgow – 67%
  2. Belfast – 66%
  3. Newcastle – 65%
  4. London – 64%
  5. Sheffield – 60%
  6. Cardiff – 58%
  7. Leeds – 57%
  8. Manchester – 56%
  9. Bristol – 55%
  10. Plymouth – 54%


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