Users find new mobile phones too complex

Research has suggested that the complexity of modern mobile phones is leaving users frustrated and angry, with 61 percent of those interviewed saying that setting up a new phone is as challenging as moving your bank account.

Compiled by Mformation, the survey, which questioned 4,000 people in the UK and US, found that 85 percent of users were frustrated by the difficulty of getting a new phone working. 95 percent of those interviewed said that if the initial set-up was easier, they would be willing to try more new services.

Mformation spokesman Matthew Bancroft said, "There is an enormous range of things modern phones are capable of doing but the paradox is that many people are not using these capabilities." He added that users who have a bad experience trying to get a feature to work will often not try again. "If an application does not work once or twice, they just will not use it or try again," he said.

Bancroft also said that many people were spending an hour or more trying to get their new handset to do what they wanted, when it should only take 15 minutes or so.

Director of devices, software and platforms at mobile analysts CCS Insight, Geoff Blaber, said that it is a problem that mobile operators are trying to solve, with many investing in staff training and in-store help desks which can help customers get more out of their phones.

Blaber added that giving customers more help with their phones is good business too. "Operators are trying to move revenues away from a reliance on voice and text which are declining. To make that transition they need to be sure that the services are identifiable and easy to configure and use," he said.

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This doesn't surprise me at all. As time goes on, technology prices will continue to fall and dependencies on computerized devices will go up. All cellphones have CPUs that can process floating point and graphical faster than $1000 computers could 15 years ago. You can buy a computer now that's $400 dollars than will run laps around a computer that you spent $2000 on 6 years ago. Now when you go to an appliance store, all of the refrigerators are computer controlled and half of the high end selection has TVs in them. When it comes to TVs, anything less than 720p is seen as inferior. Hell, most people will not even bump $40 in a normal DVD player anymore.

As this trend continues, phones will become more advanced and so will any other device we use. The only restriction on the capabilities on what is mass produced on the market is the cost and profit margin on the products. If Verizon could dev a phone that could cook your food, play Counter-Strike Source and WoW, Keep track of your calery intake by food recognition via camera, and predict lottery numbers via statistic brute forcing and actually make it affordable to the point of having any form of profit on it, I'm sure they would jump all over the project (longest sentence in the history of the english language, by the way).

The long-winded point I'm making here is, technology is more advanced and more affordable than ever. Meaning people who generally avoided computerized technology because they did not want to learn it and couldn't afford it are not seeing these great tools as a valid option because of how cheep they are. Hell you can buy a phone that can play music and surf the internet for under $400. Not too long ago, you were lucky to get a phone with a camera that cheep. Meaning, we have a lot of older people and people with no technical experience now playing with devices way beyond their competence level.

I would not be surprised to see that the majority of people using these devices are people with little-to-no technical knowledge. Everyone wants a cell phone. Pity is all these people who just want a cell phone are buying devices in a time of where your cellphone isn't just a phone anymore.

all you nerds saying cellphones are easy to use should be shot. it's because of people like you that we have so many poorly designed and engineered products

for those of you who are not good at sport - does anyone make you pass a fitness test before watching a sports game? no you just want to watch it


and some people want to use a mobile and take pictures with no bull**** menus and configuration and crap

i'm a techie and i have no trouble with technology, but even i get pi**ed off by poorly designed products and that's why i bought an ipod last week... cos trying out the other mp3 players instore was an absolute joke


dam you moronic nerds... the whole world doesn't live on a computer

Well, at least the "dumb" ones can hang onto their old flip phones...since Motorola doesn't seem to know how to build anything that isn't a "zr"...Razr, Krazr LOL.

there may be lots of people thinking this is crazy that people are having a hard time configuring their phones, but cellphone technology in europe kicks NA's technology' a$$!!

want a coke from a vending machine? use a cellphone
want to pay to parking? use a cellphone
check when the bus will arrive at the bus stop you are standing at? use a cellphone
banking? use a cellphone

technology in north america compared to europe or even Asia is like parking a 1980 ford escort by a 2009 Lotus

cellphones in europe can do a LOT more, therefore require more configuration... maybe 61% is a bit high.. but i'm not surprised that some people are having trouble.

signalpirate said,
there may be lots of people thinking this is crazy that people are having a hard time configuring their phones, but cellphone technology in europe kicks NA's technology' a$$!!

want a coke from a vending machine? use a cellphone
want to pay to parking? use a cellphone
check when the bus will arrive at the bus stop you are standing at? use a cellphone
banking? use a cellphone

technology in north america compared to europe or even Asia is like parking a 1980 ford escort by a 2009 Lotus

cellphones in europe can do a LOT more, therefore require more configuration... maybe 61% is a bit high.. but i'm not surprised that some people are having trouble.


I'm from the USA and admit it is true. My HTC Touch Diamond does so much besides it being a higher end PDA. Look at the most basic phone in Europe, it is pretty much past our "smartphones". Especially speaking of these Nokia phones besides the higher end N8x/9x series. Over here, the whole hyping of how a phone is all that is that it does basic stuff like texting, bluetooth (headset profile only, no A2DP). Its just so sad its funny now.

In other news, a further survey of the same people revealed they have not upgraded their VCRs to DVD or blu-ray, nor are they digital TV ready.

This is ridiculous! They find it hard because they are ignorant to technology! Technology is evolving and growing every day! It is soon going to be a major part of everyone's daily life (it is for most people already). People who are complaining about setting up a new mobile phone being too hard need to either start becoming more technologically-minded (learn how to work new technology) or shutup! It's simple.

I don't find it hard, because I have an interest in technology and I am technologically-minded. As I have said, tecnology is becoming more and more important every day.

I don't have an interest in washing up the pots, but I had to learn and know how to do it as it is something that needs to be done (unless you want to live in filth). The same applies to learning new technology. People may not have an interest in it, but they need to know about it and how to use it, so they should stop being ignorant about it and start learning.

My friend complained to me his computer was slow and every time he searched Google, loads of adverts popped up. He started blaming Google for it. Once I looked at his computer, I noticed he had no anti-virus and no anti-spyware! :O

I advised him to download Avast and SpyBot S&D and told him how to use them and scan his whole computer (including boot scan) and it made his computer much faster and got rid of that Google thing and a lot of other things. (it found 4 trojan horse viruses among many others! :O).

After that he thanked me and said he'd learnt a lot about computers (I told him and showed him a bit) and he even said he'd like to learn more so he knows how to protect himself and his data and just so he has more of a knowledge.

If that doesn't prove my point, I don't know what does.

What those who have already commented are forgetting is that most of us here, reading this article and responding to it, are people who are interested in technology, use it often, and generally know more about it than many others. Most people do not derive joy in learning how to use their machines, they want it to just work.

Part of where a mobile phone presents a steeper learning curve than a computer is that there's very limited screen space. This forces many of the features to be presented in menus. While you and I may not mind wading through a menu (I do it with new devices just to see what's there), that's a frightening and/or annoying prospect to the person who wants to just pick it up and go. The dislike of menu wading isn't anything new. It's a complaint that has been leveled against aspects of certain operating systems and even digital cameras, among other devices. I'd imagine that at least part of the reason for the iPhone's success is not because it looks particularly good or has excellent hardware (in my opinion), but because it presents a layout where almost everything is accessible without having to dig through menus. It'd be interesting to find out whether iPhone users use more features of their phone than people with other smartphones.

I bought an iPhone to replace an old Samsung that I totally hated because it was unintuitive and annoying to use. There were so many little problems on it, like the way it would turn on the screen even when locked if you pushed any button, meaning it probably turned on in my pocket several times a day and thus had to be recharged all the time.

By comparison the iPhone has been mostly smooth sailing. I find myself using it MORE for tasks other than calls and text messages. Love the Maps and Safari apps. I considered buying a netbook but the iPhone pretty much does exactly what I would want from a netbook.

Of course, it's not perfect at all, but it's still better than 90% of what other manufacturers offer. It's amazing that it has taken that long for someone to wake up and have Nokia go "****, we can't design UIs worth ****!".

When I upgraded to my current phone, a Sony Ericsson, it was easier to setup than ever before. That said I don't use most of the features and I have pretty standard needs. But, recording videos, taking pictures, using Bluetooth, setting alarms, using the calculator, writing notes and such are all incredibly straight-forward. That's not to say it shouldn't be made easier but I think phone companies are doing a reasonable job of exposing an ever expanding feature set.

95 percent of those interviewed said that if the initial set-up was easier, they would be willing to try more new services.
It would also help is carriers didn't lock everything out so that they could charge a fee...

with 61 percent of those interviewed saying that setting up a new phone is as challenging as moving your bank account.

So..... it's easy then right? Because moving your bank account is pretty damn simple nowadays

I beg to differ at the above comments. I opened a new account recently. It took 2 months and I have over 2kg of documents delivered before the account was setup (yes, I was bored enough to weigh it)

Moving accounts is a pain. Having to reset all your auto drafts and bills that to your old account. Timing them there are funds. Tracking to see which bills are paid when so you don't overdraft or miss a payment. Most banks now offer services to move from an old bank to a new one.

I changed bank accounts with 3 pieces of paper. One to close my account, one to open an account and a cheque that linked them while I transferred the money between them. (obviously not in that order)

Once opened then just transfer the money between then re-set up bill payments which took about 15 mins.

I changed bank accounts with a couple of signatures... judging by the language used in your post RangerLG i'm guessing you are US? In the UK, all direct debits (auto drafts?), standing orders, etc are migrated automatically with no fuss

sign the paper.. new card arrives, you get told when your direct debits are changing and you just need to make sure there is money in the account :)

Simple! :P