The UK is now a smartphone society, UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has proclaimed, as smartphones have officially overtaken laptops as the most popular devices for using the internet.
Two-thirds of people in the UK now own a smartphone and use it for nearly two hours a day to browse the internet, access the web and shop online, according to Ofcom’s 2015 Communications Market Report.
According to the report, a third (33pc) of internet users see their smartphone as the most important device for going online, compared to 30pc who are still sticking with their laptop.
‘For the first time, smartphones have overtaken laptops as the UK’s most popular internet device and are now the hub of our daily lives’
– JAMES THICKETT
The rise in smartphone surfing marks a clear shift since 2014, when just 22pc turned to their phone first, and 40pc preferred their laptop.
Smartphones have become the hub of our daily lives and are now in the pockets of two-thirds (66pc) of UK adults, up from 39pc in 2012. The vast majority (90pc) of 16-24-year-olds own one; but 55-64-year-olds are also joining the smartphone revolution, with ownership in this age group more than doubling since 2012, from 19pc to 50pc.
Surge in e-commerce on 4G smartphones
The surge is being driven by the increasing take-up of 4G mobile broadband, providing faster online access. During 2014, 4G subscriptions leapt from 2.7 million to 23.6 million by the end of 2014.
“4G has supercharged our smartphones, helping people do everything from the weekly shop to catching up with friends with a face-to-face video call,” said Ofcom’s director of research, James Thickett.
“For the first time, smartphones have overtaken laptops as the UK’s most popular internet device and are now the hub of our daily lives.”
On average, mobile users spent nearly two hours online each day using a smartphone in March 2015 (one hour and 54 minutes), compared to just over an hour spent online by laptop and PC users (one hour and nine minutes).
But this is still only half of the three hours and 40 minutes we spend in front of the TV each day.
The report also reveals that smartphone users with 4G are shopping online more than those without 4G (55pc of 4G users do this compared with 35pc of non-4G users); banking more online (55pc versus 33pc); watching more TV and video clips online (57pc versus 40pc); making more face-to-face and voice calls over the internet (28pc versus 20pc); sending more photos and videos via text (49pc versus 36pc), and instant messaging more with services such as WhatsApp (63pc versus 50pc).
Smartphones now take more photos than any other device, including digital cameras, with 60pc of adults saying they use it most to take a snap, rising to almost nine-in-10 (89pc) of 16-24-year-olds. Just over one-in-five adults (22pc) mostly use their digital camera.
People in the UK took an estimated 1.2 billion ‘selfies’ in the past year. Nearly a third (31pc) of UK adults admit to taking a selfie, with one-in-10 (11pc) doing so at least once a week.
“Today’s report shows just how important reliable, fast internet access is to millions of consumers and businesses,” said Ofcom CEO Sharon White.
“Improving the coverage and quality of all communications services across the UK is a priority for Ofcom, for people at work, home or on the move.”
Smartphone and laptop image via Shutterstock