The Moneysupermarket PSA Index

PSI Index

Whether it's during a movie or a meal, we all know someone who can't put their phone down. But did you know that phone separation anxiety or 'nomophobia' is a very real condition? In our new PSA study, Moneysupermarket dives deep into the phenomenon and reveals the most 'addictive' brands on the market.

We all know someone who can’t be without their phone. Whether it’s lighting up a cinema to send a text, causing a delay to your entrée by photographing every bite, or tracking every step they take on a fitness app, for some people their phone can be like an extension of themselves.


But while being around someone who’s constantly on their phone might be annoying, Phone Separation Anxiety or Nomophobia is a very real phenomenon, where people can feel anxious or stressed when they don’t have their handset.
What’s more, nomophobia (NO MObile PHone PhOBIA) is more common than you might think, with 2019 medical study from Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care finding up to 53% of us, have some form of anxiety related to being without of devices.

The Study

Between June – July 2021, the MoneySuperMarket PSA Index conducted a series of experiments with over 1,000 volunteers to study just which handsets prompted the highest levels of nomophobia among users

The experiments were:

  • The Time Test: In this experiment our subjects simply had their phones taken away from them and were provided with alternative forms of non-internet based entertainment. Those who lasted the longest without their device were offered a prize.
  • The Movie Test: For this experiment our subjects were asked to watch a movie of their choosing, but to record a note of each time they used their phone for any purpose throughout its duration.
  • The Selfie Test: In this test, we counted the number of photos taken by our subject over the past 12 months, also tallying up the proportion of photos that were ‘selfies’

Along with our experiments, we also asked a series of questions to our panel asking them to describe their phone use.
So, which smartphones are the most ‘addictive’? read our PSA Index below to find out.

The world’s most addictive handset

Across all of our tests, we found that Apple and iOS users had a significantly harder time being away from their handsets than android owners.

Overall, our study found that Apple device owners reported a higher level of anxiety when being separated from their phone than their Android counterparts, with separation anxiety building at a significantly faster rate among iOS users.

Over the course of 60 minutes, just 95% of Apple owners said that they had at least some level of anxiety from being away from their phone, with just over a quarter (27%), reporting ‘serious anxiety’. In comparison, only 44% of Android users were bothered being apart from their device, with just 7% saying they felt ‘severely anxious’ after one hour.

Across brands, Apple was the clear winner followed by Samsung and Google as a distant second and third.
While the team noted that those with more expensive handsets tended to have more attachment to their phones, they found that owners of brand behaved relatively similar regardless of the value of their handset.

When asked to give a reason for their desire to be reunited with their phone, just over a quarter of people who felt a level of anxiety said they couldn’t explain why they felt strongly. However, across the board Android and iOS users gave fairly similar reasons, with Apple owners slightly more concerned about missing out on social media.

The Time Test

In addition to tracking the subject anxiety levels when separated from their handset, the MoneySuperMarket research team also measured how long our smartphone owners could physically stand to be without their phone.

The Time Test simply required the person taking part in the study to be without their phone, while enjoying another for of entertainment (not including web-based options like social media), for as long as possible.
In each case, those taking part were told that the 10 people in the study to last the longest without their handset would be awarded with an additional prize.

The Time Test found that, on average, a smartphone owner can last just over 2 hours (124 minutes) before requesting their phone back, even when offered an incentive.

However, the test found that iOS users called it quits after only 42 minutes on average, compared to 205 minutes (just over 3 and a half hours), with the longest lasting iPhone owner going just 70 minutes before needing their phone back.
While the average and maximum time varied wildly across handset brand, just one person in the study managed to last its full length (approximately 6 hours) - the owner of a BlackBerry Key2.

But first, let me take a selfie

There’s always one person in the group who loves a selfie or fancies themselves as an amateur Instagrammer, that seemingly needs to capture every moment on camera.

As studies have linked smartphone shutter bugging and the need to capture moments to forms of nomophobia, our study trawled through photo galleries to find which handset owners were the most snap happy.
The ‘Selfie Test’ looked at two key aspects:
• How many photos had been taken with the phone’s camera over the past 12 months?
• How many of the photos taken over the past 12 months were a ‘selfie’ or featured the phone’s owner?

According to the study, iPhone owners take up to 70% (915) more photos a year than Android users, on average.
iPhone owners also showed a higher proportion of ‘selfies’ among their photos, with a selfie rate of 66% compared to 47% among Android users.

The Movie Test

Whether it’s lighting up a whole cinema or asking, ‘what’s going on?’ every five minutes during a movie night in, there’s nothing that tests relationships and friendships quite like someone using their phone during a film. But why do people do it and which phone owner is the most likely culprit?

As part of our nomophobia study, we asked our participants to track the number of times they used their phone over the course of a movie, and their reason for doing so.
The result? Once again Apple users had a biggest problem leaving their phone alone, checking their devices a whopping 19 times over the course of an hour of a movie, almost double the average number seen from Android users (9.6).

On the other end of the spectrum, One Plus users make the best movie dates, checking their phone an average of six times per hour when watching a film. So, the next time your want to settle in for a Scorsese epic or M Night Shyamalan twist filled feature, you might want to Netflix and chill with a One Plus owner.

Social media was the primary reason for using a device during a movie, When asked why they had checked their devices, with nearly half (46%) of instances relating to checking social accounts compared to just over a quarter (27%) for web browsing and messaging respectively.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. According to our comprehensive study, people with Apple devices are significantly more likely to experience nomophobia than those rocking an Android.
Not only did we find that they were more likely to have trouble being away from their device, but also they were the most prolific photographers, selfie takers and serial immersion breakers when it came to ‘dual screening’ during a movie.

Rob Baillie from MoneySuperMarket commented; "Whether you’re a smartphone lover or can resist the temptation of firing up IMDB during a movie, you can make sure you’re getting the best possible deal on your handset with MoneySuperMarket , including iPhone and Samsung offers from the UK’s biggest networks."

Happy with your current handset, but not your monthly bill? Remember, there are more ways to save, by switching to a new SIM only deal, including MoneySuperMarket exclusive offers.