Mobile phones are a relatively modern invention but are already something we as a nation rely on, with 93% of British adults owning or using a mobile phone.*

Phones fall into two types: feature phones and smartphones. Feature phones are great if you just want something very basic to make calls and texts.

Smartphones are bigger and have touchscreens. Their ability to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi or mobile data (3G or 4G), means you can do a lot more – such as check email, make video calls and browse the web. Smartphones are rising in popularity - according to Ofcom 7 in 10 adults have a smartphone, a huge increase from just 30% in 2010.

Some people think mobile phones ruin social occasions – and certainly loud ringtones and people constantly staring at screens can be frustrating - but the benefits of mobile phones far outweigh the negatives.

The biggest advantage of having a phone is to be able to connect with others. Although they can be used to play games, take photos and watch video, the most popular use for a smartphone for ages 16-75+ is still communication.**  

Discover how you can keep connected using your mobile phone.

Keeping connected – talking and texting

As long as you’ve got a working feature phone or smartphone and an active SIM card, you can talk to and text friends and family wherever you are.  As well as keeping in touch and sharing your life, friends and family get peace of mind and elderly relatives have direct link to the rest of the family.

Mobile phones don’t have to be expensive. BT Mobile has some brilliant affordable SIM-only deals which you can take advantage of while keeping your own phone.

BT broadband customers can pay as little as £5 a month for 500MB data, unlimited texts and for a limited time – unlimited minutes, so you can talk as much as you want! Find out more

Graphic of email on phone

Keeping connected – email on the go

Email is the preferred method of communication for many people and organisations, because messages are sent instantly and they’re environmentally friendly.

As long as your smartphone is connected to the internet, you can access email on-the-go.

You can do this using mobile data, which all BT Mobile SIM-only plans have, starting from just £5 for BT broadband customers.

You can also connect through Wi-Fi at home and out and about - as a BT Mobile customer you can get online at five million hotspots throughout the UK using the free BT Wi-Fi app.

So if you’re shopping in town and waiting for an important email, fire up the BT Wi-Fi app, find your nearest hotspot and get online.

Read more in our article: How to use the BT Wi-Fi app to connect to hotspots

Older couple doing video chat

Keeping connected – video calling

If you’d been told 20 years ago that we’d all have the capability to talk to and see someone in Australia using a device that fits into a hand you’d have laughed it off.

But with a smartphone and the internet, it’s possible. Voice calls are great, but with video chat you can see someone’s face, so it feels as though they are in the room.

Free mobile phone apps like Skype use your smartphone’s front-facing camera to film you during the call, so the person you are calling can see your face and you can see their.

For instance if your grandchild has gone to university, they can show you around their hall of residence using Skype, or if you’ve got a family wedding coming up and you aren’t sure about a piece of clothing, try it on, show it to others and get a second opinion.  If a family member is celebrating Christmas across the world you can even talk to them as if they were in the room.

To make a video call you need to connect to the internet, which you do using mobile data or wi-fi.  The latter is the cheapest way to make video calls from home, although you can use data.

Read more: What uses data? How to stay within your monthly broadband and mobile allowance

Young people use video calling all the time, so if you want to stay in touch with them, you need to get on board!


BT Mobile SIM-only plans start from £5 a month for BT broadband customers. Find out more.

*Ofcom Fast Facts **Ofcom Adults media use and attitudes report 2016