Mobile surveys: smartphone vs feature phone - photographic evidence

in Products
on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @ 3:31

"Do your surveys really work on feature phones?" is a question that comes up often in client meetings. Since a photo is worth a 1000 words I'm sharing a few side-by-side shots of our surveys on a feature phone vs a smartphone.

I used a modern HTC smartphone and a trusty old Sony Ericsson feature phone that we use in the office for survey testing. Different question types will look and work very similar on almost all devices with a web browser.

Survey intro page

This is the survey intro page. We have much more control over the layout on a smartphone but even on a feature phone it's possible to do basic text editing like larger fonts, bolds, italics etc. We can add images or even videos (although Youtube embeds will not work on most older feature phones) here or on any other page in the survey.

I think there's a misconception in the market research circles that somehow designing and scripting a survey for mobiles involves a lot of testing due to different device types, screen sizes etc.

The reality is that a well built mobile survey platform will automatically detect the exact device model and render the survey to offer the best experience on that particular handset.

Single choice question

Here's an example of a single choice question type. Our recommendation is to keep the number of answer options to a maximum of ten. Anything more than that and scrolling up and down start to seriously hurt the survey experience. As you can see the feature phone screen can beautifully handle 6-7 choices without breaking a sweat.

The benefits of browser based surveys are straightforward:

  • Script and test once, display everywhere - a time saver in the project setup phase
  • No special setup required to support feature phones
  • Feature parity on our browser based mobile surveys
  • No apps to download = high response rates due to minimal barrier of entry

The end result is better reach among the mobile internet-using population and thus a more representative sample.

Multicode question example

Drop-down question example

Why do we even care about feature phones?

It is easy to forget that a large majority of world's mobile phones are still "dumb" and although they might have internet connection and a browser they are slow-ish and slightly clunky to use, don't support apps well, sport a pretty poor camera (or lack it completely).

However, especially on emerging and growth markets in Africa, South East Asia and Middle East they are the way for many people to go online. Even in developed markets like the UK and US smartphone penetration crossed the 50% mark only recently.

Smartphone penetration

Smartphone penetration in India, Indonesia, South Africa, UK, US, Thailand, Vietnam Source: Our Mobile Panel, Google

Being able to reach consumers on all internet connected devices helps us to get a fuller understanding of the country's population.

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