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CIAJ Releases Report on the Study of Mobile Phone Use – Embracing smartphones leads to changes in behavior


CIAJ conducted its annual study of mobile phone use and announces the release of this year’s findings as follows.
This year’s report focused separately on the use of smartphones and featurephones, looking into the decisive factors at the time of purchase, and their most popular uses. The study reveals the differences in use by age group, the polarization into “smartphones” and “feature phones,” as well as changes in used services.


This study has been conducted since 1998 to capture on-going changes in the domestic mobile communications market.
CIAJ mailed questionnaires to 1200 mobile phones users (100 male & 100 female users in each of the following age groups: under 20, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties) residing in the larger Tokyo and Osaka metropolitan areas from the end of March through early April of this year.
The study was conducted as a fixed-point observation in April in order to include data from the busiest sales season of the year in March.
Unique findings from this year’s study are as follows.

(1) Handset Trends

<Type of terminal owned>

The 1,200 people surveyed owned a total of 1,369 terminals and their breakdown is listed in the following table. 594 respondents (49.5%) said their main-use terminal (primary choice terminal) was a featurephone, while 573 respondents (47.8%) said it was a smartphone, making it approximately an even split.

<Type of terminal owned by respondents of study>
Type of terminal ownedNo. of devicesMain-use device
(Primary choice)
Featurephone604 (50.3%)594 (49.5%)
Smartphone578 (48.2%)573 (47.8%)
Tablet (with only Wi-Fi connectivity)55 (4.6%)0 (0.0%)
Mobile Wi-Fi router53 (4.4%)2 (0.2%)
PHS45 (3.8%)31 (2.6%)
Tablet (with telecom subscription)38 (2.8%)0 (0.0%)
Total1,3691,200 (100.0%)

<Significant jump in smartphone users>

There was a 9.6 point increase in the 2013 number of smartphone users over 2012. This indicates the continuing acceleration of smartphone popularity in Japan.

Change in Number of Smartphone Users

(2) Purchasing Cycles

<Little change in purchasing cycles>

The average use of respondents’ previous model (the one before the handset currently in use) was 30 months for smartphones and 40 months for featurephones.

Change in Duration of Ownership

<Intent to purchase replacement of current model continues to grow>

Three out of four respondents (73.8%) said they intended to purchase replacement handsets. This result indicates continued demand for handsets.

Change in Intention to Purchase New Handsets

<Clear rise in interest to purchase smartphones>

99.5% of respondents who indicated intention to purchase a replacement expressed intent to purchase a smartphone as their next device. This is approximately 6.9 point above the 2012 results.

Change in Intention to Purchase Smartphones

(3) Decisive Factors for New Purchases

<Decisive factors in purchasing smartphones/feature phones>

The top 2 ranking decisive factors in making the next handset purchase were cost-related for both feature phones and smartphones, but differences were evident from 4 onwards. Smartphone factors were more features-oriented, such as “size (snugness in one’s hand),” “manufacturer/brand,” “touch panel operability,” “stress-free operations” and “latest OS version,” while feature phone factors were more exterior design-oriented.

<Decisive factors in purchasing smartphones/featurephones>
RankingSmartphones (n=570)%
1Monthly payment cost69.5
2Purchase price of handset68.9
4Size (snugness in one’s hand)42.3
5Battery life41.1
7Touch panel operability38.4
9Screen resolution30.4
10Mobile telecom operator29.3
11Camera function28.9
12Speed and ease of operations26.1
13Pixel count of display25.3
14Ease of browsing and commenting on SNS or blogs25.1
Size (thickness)
16Size (weight)24.6
Emergency earthquake alert
19Music player feature22.8
20Rich features20.9
RankingFeaturephones (n=588)%
1Purchase price of handset82.7
2Monthly payment cost76.9
4Rich features41.2
5Size (snugness in one’s hand)39.6
6Battery life39.3
8Size (weight)29.9
9Touch panel operability29.3
10Size (thickness)27.4
11Water-proof feature19.2
12Emergency earthquake alert18.4
13Large and easy to read text14.1
14Mobile telecom operator13.6
15Pixel count of display12.6
Screen resolution
18Emergency earthquake alert10.5
19Size of LCD10.4
20Speed and ease of operations8.2

(4) Differences in Use of Smartphones and Featurephones

<E-mail use>

With the growth in smartphone users, use of carrier-provided e-mail services has decreased, while internet e-mail and SNS linked e-mail (such as LINE) use is increasing.
Voice communications is used by all age groups among both smartphone and featurephone users, but the IP phone feature (such as LINE) is used more than 30 times a week by males in their teens to thirties.

Carrier provided e-mail88.4%83.8%72.9%79.6%
Internet e-mail46.7%9.0%54.1%12.5%
SNS-type e-mailnot covered65.6%3.7%

<Wi-Fi use among smartphone users>

Wi-Fi use, mostly among smartphone users, declined from 71.8% last year, to 66.8% this year. The underlying reason is the growing use of smartphones among a broader audience. Reasons for not using Wi-Fi included “no need for it (61.1%)” as well as “don’t know what Wi-Fi is (24.2%).”

For details, contact

Mr. Ohkawa
Products & Technologies Development
tel: 81-3-5403-9358 URL: http://ciaj.or.jp

For more general inquiries, contact

Corporate Communications
tel: 81-3-5403-9351 fax: 81-3-5403-9360