Q3 2018

Smartphone Ownership


Smartphones have grown increasingly common in recent years, so, it’s not surprising our most recent Q3 Tech Tracker report has revealed 4 in 5 of us own a smartphone. Given the penetration of smartphone ownership has been high for a number of years it will come as little surprise that smartphone purchases are levelling out. Recent technology updates show fewer shipments were made in the last quarter of 2017 than during the same time in 2016 (down 6.3%). In turn, mobile phone operating systems have stabilised since Q4 ‘17, with Windows being the least favoured and iPhone retaining their lead over Android by 4% points in Q3 ‘18.

Base: Q3 2018 1,008 GB adults aged 15+           Source: Ipsos MORI

New technologies may also present a challenge to smartphone providers. Rather than buying the latest iPhone or Android offering, users might be choosing to stick with their current smartphone and invest in voice-activated speakers or smart watches instead.


However, rumoured innovations such as: bezel-less screens, 5G, improved face ID and foldable devices may help smartphone providers overcome these purchase hurdles.


Profiles of smartphone users


In many ways, the ownership of smartphones is evenly distributed amongst the population being 8 in 10 for both males and females. There are some variances between age and social grade level, where ownership is less likely among DEs and 55+s and higher amongst those aged 25-34, but these trends are reasonably predictable. During Q3 ‘18, owners of iPhone or Samsung phones are significantly more likely to be female and aged 15-24 than those who own a smartphone from a different manufacturer.



18-24 year olds are significantly more likely to carry out various activities on their smartphone than the average GB smartphone owner. The most significant differences occur with activities such as downloading/streaming music, watching video clips on YouTube, browsing the web for personal interest topics and visiting social networking sites.


Younger smartphone owners spending more time on their device is commonly known. What is surprising, however, is they are not happy with the amount of screen time they are spending. Findings from an Ipsos study (Almanac 2017) indicated people think they spend too much time on their smartphones, particularly those aged 18-24. A huge 68% of people in Britain agree they spend too much time looking at their phones, which is higher amongst 18-24 - 79%.


To combat our ever-increasing screen obsession, a trend has developed for mindfulness apps, or apps that monitor the amount of time you spend on/off your phone and reward you for this. However, the jury is still out as to whether these applications are successful in reducing our screen time.



The average person has 2.1 smartphones in their household. Though our Tech Tracker data does not cover children below the age of 15. Our results demonstrate that the average number of smartphones per household is higher amongst people with children in their household; 2.7 and 1.8 amongst those without.


It is interesting to consider the impact this might have on the younger generation’s use of smartphones. As we mentioned earlier, younger demographics are using their smartphones for a wider variety of activities. Could this be affected by the young age at which they receive a smartphone?


Besides children, social grade also has a large influence on the number of smartphones within a household. ABC1s typically have 2.3 smartphones in the home versus 1.8 for C2DEs.

About the survey


Technological developments are increasingly rapid, presenting a host of opportunities and risks for businesses. Today’s consumers are more connected than ever before and this makes online platforms and new devices ideal meeting points for brands and their audiences. Ipsos’ Tech Tracker is a GB nationally representative quarterly survey, which measures the emerging trends and developments in technology, allowing businesses to identify valuable consumer focused opportunities.


Using a modular approach, the survey covers internet penetration and expanding methods of access, smartphone ownership, social networking, games console ownership and the usage of both official and unofficial digital services for music, movies, TV and games.


This report includes a deep dive into smartphone ownership, as well as the latest data on internet usage, connected homes and tablet ownership.



Technical details


Ipsos MORI interviewed a quota sample of 1,000 adults aged 15+ in GB. The latest interviews were carried out face-to-face 18th – 25th July 2018. Data is weighted to a nationally representative profile.


A variety of other demographic breakdowns are available, including working status, household composition, ethnicity, income and newspaper readership.


The standard Ipsos MORI terms and conditions apply to this report, as with all studies the company undertakes. No press release or publication of the findings shall be made without the prior approval of Ipsos MORI. Approval will only be withheld on the grounds of inaccuracy or misinterpretation of results. Ipsos MORI reserves the right to amend the Internet Usage Statistics at any time.


For more information

Hannah Whyte-Smith


020 8080 6135

Reece Carpenter


020 861 8136

Eda Koray


020 8861 8775

Hannah Roe


020 8861 8045