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The Smartphone is the way forward for UK Web Users

A recent study by Ofcom of the habits of web users in the UK showed that the smartphone has overtaken the laptop; becoming the most popular device used to access the internet.

According to the study, 33% of internet users in the UK consider their smartphone to be their primary tool for surfing the web, closely beating the 30% who prefer the laptop. This demonstrates an undeniable change in the taste of web users compared to the results of last year’s study, when the laptop was still twice as popular as the smartphone.

The popularity of smartphones has inevitably played a role in this as two-thirds of people in the UK now own a smartphone, however the surge in internet users who favour smartphones has primarily been attributed to increasing popularity of high-speed mobile networks, as 4G subscriptions have increased more than eightfold over the last year.

4G was first brought to the UK by EE in October 2012, with Three, O2 and Vodafone getting involved over the course of the following year. The UK carrier market has changed significantly since then: EE has been acquired by BT and O2 have been bought by Three.

The increasing popularity of 4G has also been linked to people using their smartphones for more than those without 4G, such as shopping, banking, watching TV, face-to-face calls as well as sending more photos and videos via text.

The smartphone trend has recently hit the UK’s middle-aged population. The study shows that smartphone ownership among 55-64 year olds has risen from 19% in 2012 to 50% this year – an increase of more than double. Tablets have also experienced a surge in popularity. In 2011, only 2% of UK households owned a tablet, yet in the space of just 4 years, this number has rocketed to 54%!

Smartphones have made social media more accessible than ever, and those aged 16-24 are using a more expansive range of social media services. Within this age group, popular sites include Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube and Instagram – all boasting over 30% of Brits aged 16-24 as users. Tumblr and Vine have seen increasing popularity, however Snapchat has become the most popular new social media site, having acquired over 25% of 16-24 year olds since its launch in 2011. Facebook still remains the dominant force in the social media world, with over 97% over adults possessing a Facebook account, and half of these saying they only use Facebook. A combined 51 billion minutes were spent by Brits on Facebook in March 2015 – 50% more than Google.

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