The same but different – Japanese and British Smartphone Use

The same but different   Japanese and British Smartphone Use

A recent survey by Nielsen has shown the differences in usage between the Japanese and the British average smartphone user.

It would seem that not only are the two countries miles apart geographically, they are also some distance away from each other in terms of the way that they use their smartphones.

Somewhat surprisingly, UK smartphone adoption comes in at a massive 61% whilst in Japan only 24% of mobile owners have a smartphone.

What is rather good in Japan however is the fact that 92% of smartphone owners have unlimited data which leads to greater use of email whereas here in the UK we still rely on text and instant messaging as a means of communication.

The way that the internet is used on the move also shows a great deal of variance, Japanese smartphone owners use more search and portals where people based in Britain are more likely to visit news or sports sites directly.

Social Networking also shows some significant differences with the Japanese twice as likely as the British to use social sites multiple times per day which amounts to twice the amount that the we Brits choose to.

The full Nielsen report can be found below however it does go to show that even with almost the exact same technology, different people in different cultures will choose to utilise it in completely opposite ways.


Japan and the U.K. are two of the most highly mobile cultures, yet usage in each is unique to their market.

Mobile phone access is nearly universal in both markets, but smartphone ownership was notably more prevalent in the U.K. (61%) than in Japan (24%) as of Q1 2012. Japan’s smartphone owners, however, enjoy widespread usage of unlimited data (92%), which they use to send email more than their U.K. counterparts. In the U.K., where prepaid services and limited data options are more popular, users more frequently use texting and instant messaging than in Japan.

Mobile Web usage varies between the two countries as well: Japan’s smartphone owners rely on search (71%) and portals (53%) to navigate the Internet, whereas more U.K. smartphone users access news (46%) and sports sites (21%) directly. And while users in each market use apps or the mobile Web to access their favorite sites similarly, U.K. smartphone owners have six apps on average, compared with 10 apps each in Japan.

Most mobile subscribers in both markets access social networks on their phones every day. In terms of frequency, however, the Japanese are more active and nearly twice as likely to use these sites multiple times per day (59%). When using social networks, Britons are more passively engaged and more likely to read messages (60%), view pictures (57%) and browse profiles (46%). Japanese mobile subscribers are more interactive and are more likely to upload photos (32%), post blogs (26%) and play online games (13%) while using social networks.

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  • Anonymous

    I’ve recently been to Japan, and I definitely noticed this. A great number of Japanese people appear to have the more traditional feature-phone, but it must be highlighted that their ‘normal’ phones tend to be quite a lot more complex.

    Also, interestingly, Japan have quite a few Smartphone manufacturers that haven’t made it over here yet. Fujitsu and Panasonic are prominent brands, and their top-of-the-line stuff is LTE, quad-core 1.5GHz running Jelly Bean, and apparently it’s been around for quite a while now.