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Most Brits are ‘mobile-phobic’ abroad

13th March 2013 Print

New research from BT reveals that 93 per cent of Brits develop “mobile-phobia’ when abroad, significantly reducing their normal mobile phone use. The reason for more than three quarters (79 per cent) is that they are afraid to use their mobile because they are worried about expensive charges or are completely in the dark about how much it will cost.

From the moment we leave the UK, our mobile habits undergo a radical transformation. Nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of us go “cold turkey” and use our mobiles sparingly or not at all. A further fifth (20 per cent) do not even dare to risk it, leaving their mobiles at home when travelling abroad.

Those people who do take their phone abroad are very selective about answering calls and replying to texts. More than half (57 per cent) say they only answer calls which cannot wait until they get home and two thirds (63 per cent) only reply to important texts. Almost a quarter (23 per cent), never answer a call on their mobile when they are abroad and 18 per cent never reply to a text.

Despite this change in behaviour, the majority (58 per cent) of Brits abroad, still want to check in with friends and family back home, but most use text or email (62 per cent) instead of calling (25 per cent). Only six per cent feel comfortable using their mobile to make calls every day whilst abroad. If cost was not an issue, the number of people who would choose to call home would double, whilst the number who would text or email would fall by a third.

The recent launch of SmartTalk, a new free app by BT, means BT customers can save money on their smartphone calls abroad. By linking their smartphone to their BT home calling plan customers can take advantage of the inclusive call allowance in their calling plan. This means holidaymakers can now call home without the worry of a large bill when they get back to Britain.

The app works best over wi-fi, but will also work over any mobile data connection. It allows BT customers to make phone calls whether in the UK or abroadi, which are billed as if they were calling from their BT home phone. BT broadband customers have the added advantage of access to more than 7.5 million hotspots worldwide for free.

Pete Oliver, Commercial director of BT’s Consumer Division, said: “We know how important it is to stay in touch when you’re away from home – especially when you’re abroad. Our new SmartTalk app allows customers to take their calling plan with them, so they can continue to save money away from home. With a staggering 80 per cent of people completely in the dark or only admitting to roughly understanding international mobile charges, SmartTalk allows you to phone the UK from your smartphone without having to worry about expensive roaming charges.”

Jasmine Birtles, broadcaster, financial expert and founder of, said: “The BT SmartTalk app is definitely a handy money-saving tool to have with you on holiday. Whether you're travelling on a budget or you just want to make calls back to the UK without worrying about the cost, this app gives you the freedom to use your mobile wherever and whenever you wish.”

Dr Stelios Koundouros, director at, said: “Our research shows that most of calls from mobiles abroad are made back to the UK. Therefore BT SmartTalk gives customers a real benefit, enabling them to make the most of their BT calling plan when abroad.”

BT SmartTalk calls can be made to anyone, anywhere, at any time and the app supports up to five users on one calling plan. Customers will not be charged for making calls that are included as part of their home calling plan. They could even save when calling outside of their plan as BT’s standard landline rates will apply, instead of mobile rates that can often be more expensive.

The BT SmartTalk App is now available free from the App Store on iPhone or Android/Google Play or for further information visit