Bells and whistles won’t sell the iPhone: Keep it simple, Apple

We've been hearing a lot about the imminent iPhone 6 lately, as the rumour mill churns into overdrive, and speculation increases about exactly what features will be on board (such as NFC and wireless charging, which have been previously rumoured for example).

But fancy features do not sell handsets, according to a new piece of research on the topic of smartphones from Uswitch.com. So what does?

The most important thing about a smartphone, at least for those surveyed by Uswitch.com in the UK, was how easy it is to use, with 29 per cent putting that as their top priority. That's an easy point to forget when you're a smartphone addict/expert, of course.

And in joint place as the second most crucial factor came call reception (yes – people do use smartphones to make phone calls, apparently), and battery life, the latter being no surprise. Both of those were rated top priority by 19 per cent of respondents.

So forget adding fingerprint or heart-rate sensors, 3D gimmicks or other bells and whistles – the baseline message is that people want their phones to be simpler, not more complex. Are you listening Apple, Samsung and company?

The problem is, of course, that with a new phone the manufacturer wants something to shout about during the launch event in terms of a feature that someone else doesn't have. And they tend to shoot for a thinner phone rather than one with more longevity in terms of a chunkier, more powerful battery – "world's thinnest ever!" has a lot more marketing hook than how long the device can stay away from a power socket.

According to the Huffington Post, Ernest Doku from uSwitch.com commented on the survey, saying: "It's becoming increasingly hard for smartphone makers to differentiate their handsets from those of their rivals. They hope that flash features like fingerprint ID on the iPhone 5S, or Amazon's Fire Phone and its 'Dynamic Perspective' display, will give their phones the edge."

"However, our research shows that Brits can spot a gimmick from a mile away. It's actually the basics that affect the everyday user experience – like long battery life and a robust design – that people really care about."

And indeed, we're sure this is bang on the money. Amazon's Fire Phone is perhaps the biggest offender with its 3D gimmickry, and here at ITProPortal Towers, everyone bashed it on this front when the handset was unveiled.

The survey also found that being waterproof was a definite plus, as is a zoom camera lens.

But eye tracking, with intelligent scrolling of web pages, and voice control features left folks largely unmoved. 75 per cent weren't bothered about the former, and half of those questioned had never used features like Siri or Google Now.

Incidentally, the iPhone remains the UK's most popular smartphone for July, according to Uswitch.com – though the iPhone 5C is now the top model, edging ahead of the iPhone 5S.