It is often suggested that older generations struggle to get to grips with the latest technology. We felt it was about time that this long-established stereotype was challenged, so in May 2017 we spoke with 1,518 UK residents aged 50+ about mobile phone ownership, favourite smartphone features, top mobile phone uses, and manufacturer brand loyalty.

Contrary to previous perceptions, our research revealed that over 50s are far from fearful about mobile phones, and often have the same appetite for new tech as younger generations. Nearly all (98%) of those polled said they own a mobile phone which is less than three years old, and just under half (49%) use their mobile phone every day.

A few members of this very mobile generation agreed to tell us a bit more about why they love their smartphone, their favourite apps and features, and why it’s time to kick this stereotype to the curb.

Karen Perkins

Location: Sheffield
Age: 60
What is your current phone handset? Samsung S4 mini
Why do you love your phone? I love it because it is easy to use
What is your favourite feature on your phone? I love being able to listen to music and watch YouTube videos on my phone
What is your favourite app? My favourite feature definitely has to be my gym class booking app
Do you have any funny/annoying smartphone habits? I am always the first to tweet at a meeting! People may make remarks such as “Oh you’re on that Twitter again”, but I love it!
Are people often surprised by how tech-savvy you are? Yes they are, but I use it in my work so it just flows naturally. It allows me to help my clients; I am patient and understand that people don't always get it first time, so I try to build their confidence.
What is your favourite tech brand? Definitely Sony - I had an original Walkman! Sony’s smart TVs have a fab picture quality, and you can use them to surf the internet. I also think Apple products look great, but Windows products are easier for work.
What do you wish your phone could do? It would be great if phones had better storage! It would also be great if they had larger text as my eyes are rubbish.
How do you feel when it is suggested that older people are confused by technology? From years of using mobile phones I have a natural navigation intuition, so I know what to expect when looking for a feature – which definitely throws people!

Steve Honest

Location: London
Age: 56
What is your current phone handset? iPhone 4
Why do you love your phone? I like that it is solid and reliable.
What is your favourite feature on your phone? My favourite feature has to be the phone’s robustness – I leave it on 24 hours a day and have done for the last seven years.
What is your favourite app? My favourite app has to be City Mapper – it allows me to find the best routes in cities which people actually use.
Do you have any funny/annoying smartphone habits? I am constantly checking my phone for emails, texts, and stock prices.
Are people often surprised by how tech-savvy you are? No, I was a well-known pioneer of digital technology in audio during the 80s.
What is your favourite tech brand? New England Digital because they make the most robust and reliable computers.
How often do you upgrade your phone? I only upgrade my phone when there is a significant performance advantage.
What do you wish your phone could do? I wish that my phone had a longer battery life and a faster internet speed.
How do you feel when it is suggested that older people are confused by technology? I know as many young people who find tech confusing as I do old, I don’t believe it’s to do with age. I don’t get annoyed about it though - I love surprising people with my techiness!

Kevin Wiltshire

Location: Sowerby Bridge
Age: 55
What is your current phone handset? Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Why do you love your phone? I love the features.
What is your favourite feature on your phone? I really love the pen with the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, it’s easy to use and keeps the screen clean.
What is your favourite app? The most useful app on my phone is definitely the TomTom app – it’s the best one for the job!
Do you have any funny/annoying smartphone habits? I don’t think so – I like to keep it on silent and out of sight when socialising.
Are people often surprised by how tech-savvy you are? People who don’t know me are often surprised when I am able to solve gadget problems.
What is your favourite tech brand? I don’t have a favourite – I switch between Apple and Android and find the leading players to be largely homogenous these days.
How often do you upgrade your phone? Sometimes I can upgrade three times a year, mainly driven by boredom or frustration with the current handset, or a major design increment that just makes me want a new gadget.
What do you wish your phone could do? I wish there was a function to set my own snooze intervals. I also wish my phone showed notifications on the lock screen.
How do you feel when it is suggested that older people are confused by technology? It’s really quite saddening since generalisations such as this often contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think 50 is no-longer workable as a threshold for suddenly needing a Parker Pen, coordinated thermal underwear and some form of protection against embarrassing leaks!

Joolze Dymond

Location: West Yorkshire
Age: 52
What is your current phone handset? iPhone 7 Plus
Why do you love your phone? The phone has a great camera function.
What is your favourite feature on your phone? I like being able to access emails and the internet wherever I am.
What is your favourite app? My favourite app is a photo editing app called Snapseed.
Do you have any funny/annoying smartphone habits? I love to take pictures while bike riding with friends. I make them ride certain sections until I get an image I’m really happy with - I suspect that’s a bit annoying at times!
What is your favourite tech brand? Apple. I’ve been an Apple user since the year dot. They are more useful for creative stuff than any other brand I’ve used over the years.
How often do you upgrade your phone? When the phone starts running too slowly and/or there is a new model that has features that I really want. I waited for the iPhone 7 Plus to come out as I heard the camera function would be superior to the iPhone 6.
What do you wish your phone could do? I wish it had a longer battery life!
How do you feel when it is suggested that older people are confused by technology? The only time I get frustrated is when I’m buying new equipment and sometimes the ‘younger’ generations can be a bit condescending. Mobile phone shops are definitely the worst offenders for this!

Kym Vincenti

Location: Essex
Age: 54
What is your current phone handset? iPhone 7
Why do you love your phone? The phone as a whole is really convenient – I can work from anywhere in the world, and as someone who works for themselves this is invaluable.
What is your favourite feature on your phone? My favourite feature is definitely my camera – it is so sharp and such an improvement from the previous handsets.
What is your favourite app? Instagram – I love seeing pictures from all over the world!
Do you have any funny/annoying smartphone habits? If we're away on a working holiday then sometimes it’s texting or emailing at the table. I'm also a bit of a selfie queen so that's probably annoying to a lot of people.
Are people often surprised by how tech-savvy you are? No, not really!
What is your favourite tech brand? Apple - it's instantly recognisable and always ahead of the curve.
How often do you upgrade your phone? I’m on a contract so I upgrade with each new release.
How do you feel when it is suggested that older people are confused by technology? I find it quite irritating! If we do something every day we become better at it with practice, therefore if we're using technology every day, as is the way of the world we live in, then why shouldn't we be good at it?

Karen Stonley

Location: Leeds
Age: 60
What is your current phone handset? iPhone 6S
What is your favourite feature on your phone? I really like how there are constant upgrades available to download, so you don’t have to buy a new phone.
What is your favourite app? The diary and reminders are the most useful apps on my phone as they allow me to keep track of all my appointments.
Do you have any funny/annoying smartphone habits? I try hard to not be annoying as I know what it is like to be on the receiving end of someone who won’t put their phone down!
Are people often surprised by how tech-savvy you are? My friends see me as tech savvy.
What is your favourite tech brand? I used to have Samsung phones for years then changed to an iPhone when the 3 came out. I'm sticking with Apple to see what comes next!
How often do you upgrade your phone? I tend to upgrade my phone every 18-24 months.
How do you feel when it is suggested that older people are confused by technology? I feel the assumption that older people aren’t tech savvy quite patronising but understandable. Many of the older generation only want to use their mobile to make calls and send the occasional text – yet still buy smartphones! In my experience I have found that over 50s don’t have the patience or interest to get into tech, as well as being resistant to change!

Steve Neal

Location: Winchester, Hampshire
Age: 58
What is your current phone handset? iPhone 6
Why do you love your phone? I love how I can be connected to people (via social media email or shared files) wherever I am – some of my email correspondence for this occurred while I was walking in the wilds of the Scottish moors! I also think the SatNav application is fantastic.
What is your favourite feature on your phone? Geo-location as this underpins so much of what I get out of my phone.
What is your favourite app? The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE) app. As an aspiring freelance photographer TPE helps me to plan visits to locations and even identify desirable locations.
Do you have any funny/annoying smartphone habits? I always check my emails and Facebook first thing in the morning – even before my morning coffee!
Are people often surprised by how tech-savvy you are? Yes, but amongst my ‘older generation’ peers often ask for help!
What is your favourite tech brand? Apple is definitely my favourite tech brand. The brand eco-system just works, meaning there is less hassle to get multiple devices talking seamlessly.
How often do you upgrade your phone? Not often enough! I usually upgrade every second or third iteration of a handset – when there are sufficient new features or improvements to justify the cost.
What do you wish your phone could do? I would like my phone to have longer battery life and be able to add a microSD card.
How do you feel when it is suggested that older people are confused by technology? I think it’s often said in a way that is demeaning to older people whereas it is actually the failing of the tech design to make it less confusing!

Karen Warren

Location: East Yorkshire
Age: 60
What is your current phone handset? iPhone 7 Plus
Why do you love your phone? I love how my phone has dozens of gadgets rolled into one – computer, maps, compass, camera etc.
What is your favourite feature on your phone? Just being able to use the internet – it’s great to be able to get information whenever you need it, and it solves a lot of arguments down the pub!
What is your favourite app? Google Maps. I use it as a satnav – I don’t know how I ever managed without it!
Do you have any funny/annoying smartphone habits? I check my phone as soon as I wake up each morning – I don’t want to think I might be missing anything.
Are people often surprised by how tech-savvy you are? Actually most people I know are pretty tech-savvy themselves. Sometimes I get a new tip from a teenager, but other times I can show someone else how to do something.
What is your favourite tech brand? It has to be Apple because their products are so versatile. I might even get an Apple Mac when I have to replace my current Windows computer.
How often do you upgrade your phone? I wait until my two year contract is up then I get the newest handset available, unless there’s a newer version due to be launched in which case I’ll wait for a bit.
What do you wish your phone could do? The main thing that I’d like is better photo editing features. I still do all of my editing on the desktop.
How do you feel when it is suggested that older people are confused by technology? It annoys me considerably! I first used a computer when I was a student, and I bought my first home computer more than 30 years ago. Why would I find technology confusing? I know plenty of people older than myself who are happy using computers, phones and social media.