Selfies And 4G Help Smartphone Displace PC As Primary Surfing Device For Brits

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Ofcom says Brits are using more online services as smartphone apps , 4G coverage and photography help touchscreen overtake keyboard and mouse

The smartphone has replaced the PC as the device of choice for UK internet users, fuelled by increased 4G connectivity, new applications and selfies, according to Ofcom.

The regulator’s 2015 Communications Market Report says Brits are spending two hours online on smartphones every day – twice as long as traditional PCs.

A third see their handheld device as the most important for using the Internet, compared to 30 percent who still regard their PC as their primary device. Two thirds of all adults own a smartphone – up from 39 percent in 2012 – with ownership among 16-24 year olds rising to 90 percent and 55-64 year olds to 50 percent.

Tablets are now owned by 54 percent of all UK households – up from 2 percent in 2011.

Rise of the smartphone

group on smartphone ©andersr/shutterstock.comOfcom says this can be partly attributed to the spread of 4G services, which now cover 89.5 percent of the UK and for which there are 23.6 million subscribers. Those with 4G are far more likely than those with 3G to use their device for online banking, shopping, video, VoIP and over the top communications services.

“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 James Thickett, Ofcom director of research. “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.”

Another driver is photography. Smartphones take more photos than any other device and an estimated 1.2 billion selfies were taken during 2014, although it is suggested older people still value physical photos. However such sentiment is not reserved for post, with 23 percent not sending a single item of mail in the past month and 80 percent of 16-34 year olds say email has replaced the postman for them.

In total, adults now spend 20 hours 30 minutes online a week across all devices. This is having an impact on TV viewing, with many consumers turning to online streaming services instead. However 92 percent of people watch TV each week and 56 percent of homes have a connected TV service, either through a set top box or Smart TV.

Fifty-five percent of people think using a mobile phone at the dinner table is unacceptable, yet 42 percent admit to doing it, while 34 percent of consumers check their phone within five minutes of waking up. However despite all of these communication benefits, most people still like to speak face to face.

“Today’s report shows just how important reliable, fast internet access is to millions of consumers and businesses,” said Sharon White, Ofcom CEO. “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.”

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