Three-quarters of UK adults own a smartphone

We all know smartphones are an essential feature of modern life, but a fascinating new study has shed light on quite how ubiquitous and important they've become.

According to Ofcom's new Communications Market Report, more than three-quarters of adults in the UK now have a smartphone.

This makes them the most widely owned web-enabled devices in the country, ahead of the likes of tablets and desktop PCs.

Figures also revealed that four in ten internet users in Britain regard smartphones as the most important device for getting online.

This sentiment is particularly strong among younger adults, with nearly two-thirds of 16 to 34-year-olds feeling this way, along with 44 per cent of 35 to 54-year-olds.

“Smartphones are the way many of us keep connected,” Ofcom observed.

“They are now firmly established as the most widely owned internet-enabled device, with more than seven in ten consumers owning one, up by five percentage points from the previous year.

“They are used both inside and outside the home: data collected through our mobile research app shows that around two-thirds of data connections are via Wi-Fi rather than a mobile network.”

Staying connected with friends

For all the many features that modern smartphones can offer, ultimately we want them to make staying in touch with our loved ones nice and easy.

According to Ofcom's analysis, 89 per cent of Android smartphones users prefer email, while 83 per cent primarily use instant messaging.

In addition, 80 per cent were found to rely on social networking sites to stay in touch and 71 per cent said they use traditional SMS/MMS services.

There's certainly no shortage of ways in which smartphone users can stay connected with friends and family.

Social networking

We all know social networking sites are addictive, but which ones specifically are people turning to the most?

Ofcom's study found that Facebook is currently the most popular among British consumers, with 72 per cent of UK adults either using it or having a profile on the site.

Meanwhile, 42 per cent were found to regularly use WhatsApp, and a similar proportion often use YouTube.

Twitter is the next most popular, with 35 per cent of British adults using this platform, followed by Instagram and LinkedIn (23 per cent and 21 per cent respectively).

Another interesting finding was that the use of WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat have gone up significantly in the last year, while Facebook and Twitter usage remained stable.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this surge in popularity was found to be driven by young people, with more than half of 18 to 24-year-olds using Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Watching TV

The fact we carry web-enabled devices around with us day-to-day means we're no longer tied to our living room sofa to catch up on our favourite programmes.

And with a huge range of streaming and catch-up services available, we're not even bound by TV schedules and can watch must-see programmes whenever we like.

Some 54 per cent of British adults said they enjoy being given this freedom by their tablet or smartphone.

Younger people in particular agree with this statement, although a significant 28 per cent of over-64s also hold this view, indicating this isn't the sole preserve of the young, by any means.

Taking and sharing photos

According to the Ofcom report, 97 per cent of smartphone owners use their handset to take photos or videos.

Figures also showed that 37 per cent edit them directly on their device, while 62 per cent post these images and videos on the internet.

Holiday pictures are particularly popular with smartphone users, with 24 per cent posting and sharing pictures from their last trip away. This puts them ahead of photos of pets, landscapes and buildings.

But interestingly, young people were found to be most likely to post and share images of themselves, with 34 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds favouring selfies over snaps of landscapes, buildings and holidays.

Smartphones have transformed our lives, fundamentally changing how we see ourselves and how we engage with the world around us.

These statistics offer a fascinating insight into just how significant and widespread the changes have been – and suggest the smartphone will remain a core part of modern life for many years to come.

Written by Mazuma

Mazuma Mobile is the UK's most trusted mobile phone recycling service.

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