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Smartphones overtake laptops as preferred way to get online in Northern Ireland

Published 06/08/2015

Almost two-thirds of adults now own a smartphone, research shows
Almost two-thirds of adults now own a smartphone, research shows

Smartphones are the most popular devices for accessing the internet in Northern Ireland, according to a new report.

The popularity of the pocket devices has overtaken laptop computers for the first time and almost two-thirds, 63%, of adults now own one, compared to 21% four years ago.

Usage of tablet computers has also increased, with 50% of households having an iPad or similar device - a dramatic jump in the 2% in 2012.

Jonathan Rose, Ofcom Northern Ireland director, attributed the expansion of 4G services for the emerging " smartphone society".

He said: "Northern Ireland is becoming a nation of smartphone users, with these devices now overtaking the laptops as the preferred way of getting online.

"The continued expansion of 4G services should mean further growth in the year ahead, as consumers take advantage of new features and apps that exploit the increased speed offered by this technology."

Some 37% of Northern Ireland internet users said their smartphone was the most important device for staying connected.

People have been relying on their smartphones to get around, check the weather, update social media and capture memorable moments - racking up almost two hours on the devices every day.

The findings are included in Ofcom's 2015 Communications Market Report.

The amount of time people spend online in Northern Ireland has risen from 13 hours to 21 hours a week - higher than anywhere else in the UK, the report said.

And, although the new communication method has made life easier for 57% of internet users, 20% said they spent too much time online and almost a quarter, 23%, felt they were "hooked" on social media.

A further 13% regretted some online posts.

Facebook remains the most popular social networking website, with 65% of adults saying they have used it, followed by WhatsApp (40%) and Twitter (33%).

UK-wide research also shows smartphones are particularly favoured by 16 to 24-year-olds but an increasing number of older people aged 55 to 64 have one.

Meanwhile, Ofcom also found a change in the way people watched television content, with fewer people likely to watch programmes at the time they are transmitted.

Instead viewers have been tuning into catch-up services, watching personally recorded content and availing use of subscription on-demand facilities.

Smart TV take-up is lower in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK.

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