Two thirds (66%) of UK adults now own a smartphone, up from 39% in 2012. The vast majority (90%) 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 19% to 50%.
The rapid growth in smartphone ownership is being fuelled by the increasing take-up of 4G mobile broadband which offers faster online access. During 2014, subscriptions to 4G services jumped from 2.7 million to 23.6 million by the end of 2014.
We now spend almost twice as long online with our smartphones than on laptops and personal computers. On average, mobile users spend nearly two hours online each day using a smartphone to browse the web, check social media, bank and shop online.
Smartphone users with 4G are shopping online more than those without 4G (55% of 4G users do this compared with 35% of non-4G users); banking more online (55% versus 33%); watching more TV and video clips online (57% versus 40%); making more face-to-face and voice calls over the internet (28% versus 20%); sending more photos and videos via text (49% versus 36%); and instant messaging more with services such as WhatsApp (63% versus 50%).
James Thickett, Ofcom Director of Research, said: “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. 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.”
Back in April, search giant Google reacted to the growth in smartphone usage by rolling out its “Mobile Friendly” algorithm to help mobile users find more mobile-friendly content and websites.