Smartphones are Now More Important to Us Than Laptops - and They are Killing TV

By James O Malley on at

The UK has reached a major mobile milestone. We now officially prefer using our phones to get online than our laptops, according to the communications regulator Ofcom.

The Ofcom's 2015 Communications Market Report reveals that 33% of internet users cite their phone as their most important device for getting online, versus 30% who prefer their laptop. It also reports that two thirds of people now own a smartphone, and use it for more than two hours a day to do stuff online.

This might sounds pretty unsurprising for Giz readers, but it marks a significant shift. Just last year 22% named their phone as their most important means of getting online, with a solid 40% naming their laptop.

Ofcom attributes the modal shift to the growth in 4G and the faster speeds it delivers - which has shot up from 2.7m subscriptions at the start of 2014 to 23.6m by the end. The study showed that basically all internet activities - from shopping, to messaging, to watching video, all increased in line with the increase in 4G usage.

The survey also gives a fascinating insight into changing social behaviours. Apparently 31% of adults "admit to taking a selfie" (gasp!), with 10% doing so in the last week - though interestingly young people are much better at backing up, with 36% of 16-34 year olds ensuring their photos are backed up, versus just 29% of people over 35.

It also reveals that whilst 55% of people think it is unacceptable to check your phone at the dinner table, 40% of people do it anyway. And 34% of adults apparently check their phones within 5 minutes of waking up - rising to 49% of 18-24 year olds.

And it appears that TV as we know it could be on the way out. Apparently most 16-24 year olds now watch TV on demand through computers and smartphones, rather than through a connected set-top-box. On phones, shortform video like YouTube and Vine are more popular than TV - with 42% watching short videos on demand, versus 21% of people who watch films and TV. Traditional TV viewing is also on the decline - we watched on average 3 hours 40 minutes of TV a day - down 11 minutes from 2013, with the greatest drop amongst kids. [Ofcom]