New report reveals why South Africans can’t go more than an hour without their cellphones

Survey shows 72% of South Africans have used their cellphone to escape a dangerous situation. Picture: cottonbro studio/pexels

Survey shows 72% of South Africans have used their cellphone to escape a dangerous situation. Picture: cottonbro studio/pexels

Published May 21, 2024


IN TODAY’S world, our cellphones have become more than just gadgets; they’ve turned into an extension of us. Everywhere you look, people are glued to their phones, swiping, typing and scrolling. It’s not just the young ones – everyone is addicted.

I’m guilty too. From morning till night, my phone is never far from reach. Sometimes, I prefer doing my work on my phone rather than on a computer. It’s convenient and always there, fitting perfectly into our busy, on-the-go lifestyles.

But why are we so attached? Maybe it’s because our phones offer everything – news, social media, work tools, entertainment and our loved ones with just one tap away.

This constant connectivity, while convenient, also has its downsides. It blurs the line between work and personal time, making us available 24/7.

As we become more dependent on our device, it’s important to find a balance. While our phones make life easier, they can also be a distraction.

A new survey by South African mobile phone power bank provider Adoozy shows just how attached we are to our smartphones.

According to the Consumer Smartphone Usage survey, South Africans, especially young people between 18 to 35 years old, can’t go more than an hour without their phones.

Nearly 40% of respondents said they’d rather sit in a traffic jam than be without their phone and about 16% would rather endure a dental visit than part with their device.

The survey also found that 92% of respondents believe they couldn't last 24 hours without their cellphone. Picture: cottonbro studio/Pexels

The survey also found that 92% of respondents believe they wouldn't last 24 hours without their cellphone, while 64% said they couldn't go an hour without it.

This strong attachment raises the question – are we addicted to our smartphones?

Adoozy CEO Kegan Peffer has a different take. He views smartphones as tools for smart living, offering economic mobility, health, wellness, entertainment and safety benefits.

“Young South Africans, in particular, get a lot of flack over how much time they spend on their phones,” Peffer said.

“Of course, we should be using smartphones responsibly. But people have fully embraced the extent to which a modern mobile phone can enhance and add value to their daily lives.”

In a country struggling with high crime rates and violence against women, our phones can be lifesavers. The recent survey by Adoozy said 72% of South Africans have used their cellphone to escape a dangerous situation, which shows just how crucial these devices can be.

Adoozy CEO Kegan Peffer. Picture: Supplied

Peffer says South African consumers rely on their smartphones daily. They use them to send money, bank, make payments, buy food, hail rides, navigate their routes, and be more effective at work and in business.

Phones can even monitor health with fitness apps. What’s not to like?

What do we use our smartphones for?

Nearly half (49.5%) use them for banking, sending money, and similar transactions. Ordering ride-hailing services like Uber or Bolt comes in second (23.6%). GPS navigation follows at 19.1%, and ordering food and groceries rounds out the list.

Using smartphones for work means more productivity, according to survey respondents

Smartphones aren’t just for fun; they’re powerful work tools too. About 63% of people in a recent survey said they “always” use their phones for work, while 29% said they “sometimes” do.

Additionally, 34.8% “frequently” use their phones for work meetings on platforms like Teams or Zoom, and 49.4% “sometimes” do. A significant 70% believe that their smartphone makes them more productive.

For corporate workers at home, busy executives, hustling entrepreneurs, and the self-employed, the smartphone has been a game-changer.

In an economy where small businesses are our hope for the future, it’s like having an office in your pocket or handbag, he said.

What smartphone feature do we use the least?

No surprise here – the least-used smartphone feature is SMS, which has been around for over 20 years. Only 1% of survey respondents still use it to communicate.

One respondent, Lerato Mphaka from Pretoria Central said: “I can’t remember the last time I sent an SMS. No one in my family or friend circle uses it. I think it’s more for companies or brands to communicate with you.”

Other key takeaways from the Adoozy Consumer Smartphone Usage survey:

74% of respondents use their phone for physical and mental health benefits such as fitness trackers, heart rate monitors, blood pressure checkers or meditation apps.

When it comes to communicating with others:

  • 55% of respondents prefer to use instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp.
  • 22.5% prefer social media messaging (eg on Facebook or Instagram).
  • 21.3% prefer phone calls.
  • 65.2% of respondents are in favour of voice notes, while 19.1% “can’t stand them”.

The most commonly used app is Uber (29.2%), followed by Eskom Se Push (25.8%), Takealot (13.5%), and Checkers Sixty60 (11.2%). With the recent arrival of Amazon in South Africa, expect its app to begin making headway here.

Respondents ranked social media as being the most important thing they use their phone for, followed by work, consuming news, streaming entertainment, and playing games.

59.5% of people said they were “sometimes” caught without mobile power and with no means to charge their phones. 12.4% said this happened “frequently”.