Smartphones are the UK’s most popular device for getting online for the first time, according to industry monitor Ofcom.
The change has largely been driven by our increased appetite for video, and its availability with the expansion of high-speed 4G data networks. Over the past 12 months this has allowed many more people to watch video clips from YouTube or Vine and TV on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix on the go.
Smartphones are now responsible for a third of internet access, up from 23 per cent in 2014. Ofcom’s 2015 Communications Data Report shows the success of the devices has been at the expense of laptop computers, the latter dropping from 40 per cent of online connections in 2014 to 30 per cent in 2015.
Two-thirds of adults now have a smartphone, up from 39 per cent in 2012, and the amount of time we spend using them to go online has risen to one hour and 54 minutes per day.
Jane Rumble, director of market intelligence at Ofcom, said the change in internet access was a “landmark shift”.
She said: “You can see these devices are becoming more and more an important vital hub of information and communication throughout the day, with smartphone owners spending almost two hours (on them) each day, almost double the amount of time that those people are spending on their laptop or desktop.
She said younger age groups were driving the change. “Those aged 16 to 24 are much more likely, as well as 25 to 34, to say their smartphone is the most important device to get online, whereas for the older age groups, they are much more likely to be sticking with their laptop. This is a landmark shift.”
Amongst the 55s to 64s there has also been growth, with half the older age group now owning a smartphone.
More than a third of all adults (34 per cent) use their smartphone within five minutes of waking up, a figure that rises to almost half (49 per cent) of those aged 18-24, the report’s research found.