Tablet and Smartphone Ownership in UK

I’ve been updating my mobile research with  OFCOM’s latest reports: Market Communications Report July 2013 and Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes October 2013. They provide an invaluable insight into device ownership and media consumption in the UK. I’ve summarised some of the information relating to tablet and smartphone ownership below.

young boy with smartphone
29% of children aged 5-15 own a smartphone


Half of UK adults own a smartphone

According to Comscore, over 50% of all phones in the EU5 countries (Spain, Germany, Italy, France and the UK) are smartphones. The OFCOM Communications Market Report found that smartphone and tablet ownership in the UK had risen sharply and nearly three-quarters of all handsets sold (74%) in Q1 2013, were smartphones. Half of all adults (51%) in the UK now own a smartphone; a 12 percent increase on 2012 figures and double those of two years ago. Ownership varies significantly with age; three-quarters of 16-24 year olds (77%), 11% of 65-74 year olds and 2% of those aged 75+ own a smartphone.

In February 2013, 30% of web traffic came from a smartphone or tablet

The majority of  smartphone owners (96%) use their device to access the internet and in Q1 2013, 49% of UK adults accessed the internet on their handset. In February 2013, nearly a third of webpage traffic (30%) came from mobile phones (23%) and tablets (8%) whereas desktop and laptop browsing declined by 20% .

29% of children aged 5-15 own a smartphone

The OFCOM Media Use and Attitudes report found that 20% of 3-4 year olds, 22% of 5-7s, half of 8-11s and 89% of 12-15s had used a smartphone. The report recorded an overall decline in mobile phone ownership among the under-16s, but found that smartphone ownership had increased to 29% among this age group. Smartphone ownership among children increases with the age of the child from 0% – 89%. Low ownership levels are recorded among 3-8 year olds but this begins to rise from the age of 9 years and outstrips non-smartphone ownership by the age of 11. Only 1% of 5-7 year olds, 18% of 8-11s and 62% of 12-15s own a smartphone.

Half of 8-11 year olds have played a game on their mobile phone

Although the most popular activity for under-16 year old mobile owners is sending and receiving texts, there has been an increase in the number of young people using their phones to browse online. 27% of 8-11 year olds and 60% of 12-15s have used their phone to visit a website. Half of 8-11 year olds and 69% of 12-15s have played games on their phone. Teenagers show a more diverse use of their mobile phone and are now more likely to use their phone at least weekly for watching video clips on sites like YouTube.

Nearly a quarter of UK households have a tablet computer

small girl uses tablet
28% of 3-4 year olds have used a tablet computer at home

The OFCOM Communications Market Report  found that tablet ownership had more than doubled to 24% of UK households, and 29% of NI households. Owners of these tablets cite ‘entertainment’ (50%) and ‘easy access to the internet’ (45%) as the main reasons for their purchase. One in ten households has more than one tablet, and weekly users spend an average of 1 hour and 45 minutes each day on their device. However, just under half (46%) of these tablets are 3G-enabled and only 20% of tablet owners have a mobile subscription for a 3G connection.

Three-quarters (76%) of parents owning tablets consider them a useful tool for entertaining and/or educating their children. Four in five parents said their children used a tablet computer at least weekly, with two in five reporting daily use by their children and 17% saying their children use it more than once a day. Children are using tablets for entertainment purposes such as playing games, watching short clips, internet browsing of watching TV programmes. Just under one in three parents with a tablet said their child used a tablet for school/college work.

42% of 5-15 year olds and 28% of 3-4s use a tablet computer at home

The OFCOM Media Literacy October 2013 report found that children’s access to tablets had doubled, with half of households with 3-15 year olds owning a tablet. 42% of 5-15 year olds and one-quarter (28%) of 3-4s use a tablet computer at home. Almost a quarter of children use tablets to access the internet, 12% of 3- 4 year-olds have used a tablet computer to go online. Tablet ownership among children increases with age; 3% of 3-4 year olds, 13% of 5-7s, 18% of 8-11s and one-quarter of children aged 12– 15 (26%) have their own tablet computer.

Teachers estimate that by 2015, a quarter of pupil-facing computers will be tablets

BESA, the British education suppliers association, surveyed 500 UK schools and found that 6 per cent of all pupil-facing computers in schools are tablets (4.5 per cent in primary, 6.9 per cent in secondary). The schools surveyed, forecast that by the end of 2013 the percentage of tablets will have risen to 10% and by the end of 2015 this is predicted to rise to 24 per cent of all pupil-facing computers. Teachers are increasingly interested in the potential of tablets but some are cautious due to cost of investment, cost of apps, newness of technology, and security of devices. Teachers predict that by 2020, 40% of ICT-based learning will use educational apps.