April 14, 2024


Unlimited Technology

UK’s mobiles are ‘cluttered’ with a BILLION uncontacted phone numbers, unused apps and unopened messages

THE NATION’S mobile phones are cluttered with over a BILLION uncontacted phone numbers, unused apps and unopened messages.

A study of 2,000 smartphone users found they’ll have an average of 13 phone numbers that haven’t been contacted in over a year, nine apps that never get used and six unopened text and WhatsApp messages.

The nation's mobile phones are cluttered with over a BILLION uncontacted phone numbers, unused apps and unopened messages


The nation’s mobile phones are cluttered with over a BILLION uncontacted phone numbers, unused apps and unopened messagesCredit: AP

Which equates to almost 600million uncontacted phone numbers, 400 million unused apps and 300 million unopened messages across the 44,427,637 smartphone users in the UK.

The typical handset is also littered with 13 screenshotted images, 12 emails over three years old and eight songs that never get played.

And 36 per cent have more than 10 unused apps taking up space on their mobile, with just under a million (888,552) phone owners having more than 30 apps.

More than half of those polled admitted they use their phone to organise every aspect of their life – including their alarm clock (59 per cent), finances (52 per cent) and social life (50 per cent).

But 22 per cent say their handset is cluttered and 18 per cent can’t remember the last time they tidied it.

One in three (29 per cent) even have 16 or more phone numbers that haven’t been used in over 12 months, while one in 10 (11 per cent) have as many as 31 or more.

Although 41 per cent admitted they transfer everything from an old phone across to a new one, 18 per cent said a cluttered phone makes them feel frustrated and 16 per cent overwhelmed.

Those aged 18-24 are most likely to be impacted by a cluttered smart phone with one in four admitting it makes them frustrated.

The research was commissioned by Three who have partnered with lifestyle ‘decluttering’ expert Katrina Hassan to empower the nation’s smartphone users to digitally clear up unwanted content.

Katrina said: “Digital hoarding casts a spotlight on an area of our lives which is fast growing out of control.

“Just like the clutter in our homes, the clutter on our phones can provoke anxiety, raise our stress levels and distract us from living in the moment.

“I believe phones are an incredible tool, providing we have an accurate awareness of the content of our phone, as well as good boundaries in place to prevent them from taking over.

“Through decluttering our digital life one area at a time, we can intentionally tidy up and reclaim control, to ensure our digital devices add value and joy to our lives.”

The study also found the most disorganised parts of a typical phone are the apps (35 per cent), images (35 per cent) and contacts (30 per cent).


  • Phone numbers that haven’t been contacted in over a year: 577,559,281
  • Screenshot image – 577,559,281
  • Emails older than three years old – 533,131,644
  • App that never get used – 399,848,733
  • Unopened text messages / WhatsApp messages – 266,565,822
  • Songs that never get played – 355,421,096

And more than a quarter of those polled via OnePoll said they only ever delete images or phone numbers if they run out of storage.

Unused contacts are most likely to be old friends (48 per cent), previous colleagues (44 per cent), people they met on a night out (13 per cent) and from dating apps (10 per cent).

Unwanted images or screenshots sent on WhatsApp were found to be the most annoying things on a smartphone.

And when it comes to photos, people take eight during the typical week but delete 18 monthly, adding to their average gallery total of 1169.

Many admitted their phone is more disorganised than other parts of their life, including their wardrobe (17 per cent), kitchen (14 per cent) and car (13 per cent).

Aislinn O’Connor at Three UK, said: “Smartphones play a huge part in how we manage our lives, from photos and music to contacts, emails and messages.

“However, as we continue to rely on our devices to help organise ourselves, and storage capacities continue to grow, they are becoming ever more cluttered.

“As many of us upgrade or buy new smartphones during the next few months, it’s the ideal time to optimise your device and feel more organised in life.”

To help smartphone users declutter their beloved devices old or new, Three’s Discovery service is launching a series of free ‘Digital Declutter’ workshops which can be attended digitally via Zoom or attend in person.

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