New research from Microsoft has found that Australians are more reliant on their mobile phones than ever before, and for more than just making phone calls.

The software giant’s annual mobile phone usuage research polled 1,125 respondents across the country and found that Australians are increasingly using their mobile phones as an “emotional and intellectual support system”.

One of the most surprising findings was that mobile phones are so integral that respondents deem it twice as bad to lose a phone than their house keys.

According to Grace Kerrison, director of Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business, much has changed in the past 20 years.

“Most Australians could tell you not only their office number, but the numbers of 10 of their closest friends. Technology is certainly making things easier for us, but all mobile phone users need to be diligent about how they secure their important information. Our research shows that nearly one in four people lose their phones, so Microsoft encourages Australians to use a backup service, such as our recently launched Microsoft My Phone service,” said Kerrison.

When asked about their use of phone features over the past two years, Australians indicated that they’ve begun using a wider range of features, including MMS (94%) and photo capabilities (90%).

The report also found:

  • One in four Australian men claim to have secretly stored phone numbers that are deliberately hidden from girlfriends, wives and friends -in stark contrast to only one in twelve women who do the same
  • Almost 60% of Australians admit to regularly swearing at their mobile phone as a way to release frustration
  • One third of all 16- to 20-year-olds believe it’s worse to lose their phone than their keys or wallet
  • Nearly a quarter of the population has broken their mobile phone, dropped it in water or lost their mobile phone altogether
  • 77% of Australians regularly misplace their phone and have to call it to locate it
  • Nearly 50% of Australian males surveyed, aged between 16 and 19, have lost their phone. Only 20% of females in the same age group have lost their phones,
  • Only one third of Australians surveyed know their best friend’s phone number by memory and only half of all Australians surveyed know their own office phone number, and
  • Three quarters of all females under the age of 30 have cherished photos saved on their mobile phone, yet one third don’t know how to retrieve them.