UK smartphone penetration continues to rise to 85% of adult population

10 October 2017 4 min. read
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Smartphone uptake in the UK has now eclipsed laptop penetration, with 85% of citizens using smartphones surpassing the 78% with laptops. Smartphones also tend to be used slightly more often, due in part to their hyper-mobility, although laptops are not far behind. In terms of purchasing intent, high frequency smartphone users are the most likely to acquire a new or pre-used device.

Electronic computing and related devices have become increasingly popular, while the types of such devices have expanded in recent years, from smartphones and laptops, to eReaders and virtual reality headsets. In a new report from Deloitte, the professional services firm looks at the uptake of each of these devices, their relative use and acquisition interest among around 4000 UK respondents to its UK edition of the ‘State of the Smart’ report.

High value electronic device penetration

The total percentage of the survey group owning a smartphone or tablet has seen steady increase in recent years, with people increasingly shifting from older mobile phone types and growing adoption among older respondents. In 2012, around 52% of the survey group owned such a device, while this year 85% of respondents said that they own such a device.

Tablets have seen a steady increase too, although growth has slowed significantly, increasing 8% between 2015 and 2017, while there was a 34% increase between 2012 and 2014. Laptop adoption has remained relatively stable, with 78% reporting that they use such a device in 2017, it stood at 73% in 2012.

Daily use rates

Smartphones are relatively heavily used, compared to the other devices considered. 91%, for instance, used such a device within the last day, while just 3% said they had used such a device within the last week. Laptops similarly tend to be exhibit high levels of engagement, with 68% of respondents saying that they used one in the last day, and 15% in the last week. Large tablets have similar levels of engagement, at 64% in the last day and 19% in the last week.

On the lower end of use are devices such as the standard mobile phone, with 31% using such a device within the last day and 19% in the last week. Portable game players remain relatively scarce, at 8% in the last day, 22% in the last week and 26% in the last month. Virtual reality headsets, albeit relatively new, were used by 11% in the last day, 16% in the last week and 16% in the last month – signifying that this is the present level of VR market permeation. VR is forecast to be worth £801 million by 2021, suggesting that this figure will rise rapidly over coming years.

Plan to acquire

The research notes that higher use frequencies among consumers also tended to correlate with higher intent to buy a new device in the next 12 months. For smartphones, the intent to buy a new or pre-used device in the next 12 months for the proportion that used such a device daily stood at almost 30%, while 15% of high-use laptop owners said that they would buy a new one in the coming 12 months. A smaller number intend to buy a fitness band, a large tablet or desktop/computer. Not many consumers polled were intending to buy a new standard phone, with few also planning to upgrade their eReader, portable game player (although new generations of portable game players such as Sony’s PSP and Nintendo’s DS ranges are notably less common than the annually evolving phone market) or virtual reality headset.

Intent to purchase

The consultancy firm notes that the uptake and daily use of the devices is likely to increase. However, while the devices are being increasingly used, the relative utility versus the time wasted with the devices may mean that increased utilisation is a drain on other aspects of a persons’ time. Increased concern around time waste may prompt changing behaviours in users, regulators, as well as application creators. In the meantime, additional research by the firm notes that, as it stands, the level of distraction resulting from the use of such a device may have negative impact on sleep and personal relationships.