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Rapid rise of mobile devices in UK

News, 25 April 2016

LONDON: There has been a marked increase in the proportion of British adults who only use smartphones or tablets to go online, according to a new report from Ofcom, the media regulator.

Ofcom's latest Adults' Media Use and Attitudes report, a comprehensive study of media habits that was conducted in autumn 2015, found that 16% of UK adults now exclusively use smartphones or tablets to access the internet.

That represents a 10 percentage point rise from 2014, leading Ofcom to suggest that these smart devices are no longer just supplementing PCs and laptops, but are starting to replace them.

This trend is seen across all adult ages, all socio-economic groups and for males and females, but is particularly pronounced among newer users and young people.

Furthermore, two-thirds (65%) of all adults use a smartphone to go online, up by four percentage points since 2014, while 6% only use a smartphone and no other device. The proportion who only use a smartphone has doubled since 2014.

The move to mobile is also being reflected in UK consumers' attitudes to TV, with more British adults now saying that they would miss their mobile phone the most.

From 2005 to 2014, adults were most likely to say they would miss their TV the most, but now mobile devices are the most missed, probably because they are used for social media and are preferred for the majority of online activities.

In 2015, 38% of adults said they were most likely to miss their mobile device compared to 30% who chose TV. That compares with 2014 when 37% said they would miss their TV the most while 32% said the same of their mobile. However, those aged 55+ still regard their TV set as the device they would miss the most.

The report revealed a mass of detail into UK media behaviour, but some of the other main findings are that 90% of adults use a mobile phone.

Smartphones the device of choice for social media, listening to streamed music, watching short video clips, looking at news websites or apps, and surfing or browsing online.

Meanwhile, just under half (48%) of internet users watch video clips online at least weekly, 70% say they use apps, 56% of mobile phone users have listened to music stored on their device, while 82% of internet users have purchased online.

Data sourced from Ofcom; additional content by Warc staff