Tech Transformers

This country took 1.2 billion selfies last year

Smartphones have overtaken laptops as Britain's most popular device for getting online, according to a new report from the country's telecoms and media watchdog.

One in three people (33 percent) say that their smartphone is the most important device for accessing the internet, up from 22 percent in 2014. This compares to 30 percent who say that the laptop is their preferred device, a drop from 40 percent last year, Ofcom's 2015 Communications Data Report reveals.

The trend has been driven by a surge in the number of people using 4G internet services. During 2014, 4G subscriptions soared from 2.7 million at the start of the year to 23.6 million by the end.

Selfies explosion

Two thirds (66 percent) of Brits now own a smartphone and that has led to a change of behavior among people.

Smartphones users with 4G are now shopping online more than those without the faster mobile broadband, banking more online, watching more TV and video clips and making more voice calls over the internet. Services such as Netflix and WhatsApp have taken advantage of the trend, the report said.

Izabela Habur | E+ | Getty Images

U.K. consumers are using their smartphones to take more photos than with any other device and in the past year, Brit's took an estimated 1.2 billion selfies, according to Ofcom. One in 10 admits to doing so at least once a week.

And Ofcom's findings reveal just how attached we are to our mobile device. Over a third (34 percent) of adults check their phones within five minutes of waking up. This figure rises to 49 percent for those aged 18 to 24.

Mobile addiction?

U.K. citizens are spending more time on their devices with smartphone users hooked to their handset for 1 hour and 54 minutes each day, according to Ofcom, compared to just over an hour spent online by laptop and PC users.

Much of this has been driven by the rise of video-on-demand services provided by broadcasters such as the BBC and Sky as well as subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Still, an age divide is prevalent. Half of 25 to 34-year-olds said they would miss their mobile phone device the most if it was taken away, while 63 percent of those aged 65 to 74 said they would miss their TV set.

TV still king?

Despite the U.K. becoming a "mobile society", Brits spent 3 hours and 40 minutes a day watching TV in 2014, more than the 1 hour and 54 minutes a day spent on mobile, the Ofcom report says. But this is 11 minutes less than in 2013 and the second consecutive year of decline for TV, driven by a change in viewing habits.

Subscriptions to Netflix and Amazon's streaming service have risen sharply while more people are watching mobile videos. Seventy-two per cent of people claimed to watch short-form video, such as clips and music videos on YouTube, with 32 percent saying they watched either daily or at least weekly, the study found.

"This is now viewed by many as an important source of information as well as entertainment," Ofcom said in its report.