The unstoppable rise of the smartphone: UK users now prefer mobiles to laptops

Regulator Ofcom has also confirmed the huge rise of 4G phone subcribtions from 2.7 million to 23.6 million over the course of last year.

The UK has become a nation of dedicated smartphone users, with mobiles now rated the most popular device for internet access for the first time.

According to the latest report on the state of the UK telecoms market by regulator Ofcom, one-third (33 percent) of people prefer using their smartphone to get online, compared to the 30 percent who prefer accessing the internet on their laptop.

Not only do UK users prefer their phones, they're using them more, spending an average of 58 hours 39 minutes browsing or using apps on smartphones, and only 31 hours 19 minutes on their laptops and desktops.

It's likely that the UK's increasing mobile internet use is tied to rising network speeds, with more and more people switching to 4G services.

Ofcom's report confirms a huge leap in 4G's share of the mobile market: over the course of last year, subscriptions rose from 2.7 million to 23.6 million. 4G plans accounted for 28 percent of all mobile subscriptions by the fourth quarter of 2014.

The first quarter saw the largest absolute growth in 4G subscriptions, with 10.1 million users upgrading to a 4G package.

Meanwhile, tablet use is also on the rise: more than half of all UK households (54 percent) now have a tablet, up from just two percent in 2011.

The increasing use of smartphones and tablets - as opposed to PCs - is boosting overall time spent online, Ofcom said. The average internet user aged 16 or over is spending 20 hours and 30 minutes online each week, up 50 percent from the 10 hours spent online ten years ago.

Two thirds (64 percent) of people believe that the time they spend online is "invaluable for keeping them informed about current issues" while 60 percent agreed that the internet helps them to keep in touch with close friends and family.

Is our love of the mobile phone an addiction? One in three adults (34 percent) turn over and check their phones within five minutes of waking up. However, Ofcom didn't ask how many of them where just doing it to check the time.

But when it came to our thoughts on people using their phone at the dinner table, Ofcom's research illustrated a possible double standard. While over half of us (55 percent) think it's unacceptable to pick up your phone alongside your knife and fork when in company, just under half (40 percent) admit to checking their phone at the dinner table.

However, the phone has yet to displace some of our analogue social conventions. The traditional card sent through the post remains the most popular way to say 'happy birthday', with two fifths (38 percent) of people choosing to hand write their birthday wishes, compared to 15 percent using social media and just seven percent sending a text message.

You can find details on getting hold of the full Ofcom report here.

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