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June 25, 2008

Mobile phone manners cost nothing

GLOBAL – With the mobile phone becoming an integral part of our everyday life, the notion of handset etiquette and how we use it in different social and public situations is still highly relevant.

Younghee Jung, a member of the Nokia Design Studio research team, spends her time studying how people behave with their mobiles and she recently posted
some interesting observations on her blog.

Having someone’s phone conversation foist upon you in close proximity situations like the train or bus can be unavoidable, but the fact that some strangers don’t care who can hear is indicative of the culture they live in (one reader, Fumiko, left a comment suggesting the ‘topic of the discussion effects the perceived annoyance’ rather than the fact your privy to it’. Fumiko could be spot on.)

Interestingly, Younghee took some snaps of young Korean people placing their hand over the phone to shield their exchange from passers by or in one instance at a dinner table so their call didn’t intrude on proceedings. Over in the West and in particular the UK, this type of is etiquette is almost non-existent. Is this an extension of the UK’s and the West’s general lack of manners when it comes to phone etiquette?

But by the same token, Younghee also points out that people place their hands over the microphone to reduce the outside clamour when you receive a call in a noisy environment – this is modeled brilliantly on the blog by an Argentinian chap. One reader, Mikael, posted a comment saying this is because today’s phone microphones ‘capture so much external noise’ and perhaps with the growing functionality of mobile phones, the quality of the audio performance has been neglected over more headline features.

Again, living in the UK, if you can’t hear the other person during a phone call, you generally move to a quieter environment rather than use your hand to cup the microphone. Ironically, excusing yourself to take the call could be seen as an impeccable display of mobile phone decorum. Thoughts?