Written by, Andriana Moskovska
Updated September, 9, 2022
Did you know that while you are reading this, there are over 46 million other people online? And that most of them are on mobile? Impressive, huh?
Want to learn more about mobile internet usage statistics for yourself or your business? Interested to know how many people in the UK rely on mobile internet to do their shopping or check messages?
Keep on reading to find out the answers to these questions and more.
(Datareportal) (Statista) (Statista)
Britain is one of the most connected countries in the world. Broken down by numbers, UK internet usage statistics show that:
Last year, the number of monthly active mobile internet users was estimated at 90.3% of the total population. The share of Brits who use mobile internet is expected to grow, increasing to 93.59% of the entire UK population in 2025.
Mobile devices remain Britain’s favourite method of accessing the web. In 2019, 81% of time spent online was on a mobile device, with smartphones making up the largest share. Namely, 71% of time spent online was through these devices, 2019 data on smartphones and internet usage tells us.
People in the UK spent an average of 5 hours and 28 minutes online from any device. The majority of this time, or a little over 2 hours, is spent on mobile devices.
(Statista) (Statista) (Ofcom)
A 2020 Statista survey revealed that 91% of respondents had 4G on their phones as opposed to 5% who did not have a 4G mobile broadband connection. This number fell down to 83% in 2021, with 8% of surveyors stating that they have 5G connection.
Research from Ofcom on UK internet usage, on the other hand, indicates that 80% of households and businesses in Britain have indoor 4G connection.
A comparison between WI-FI and mobile connections reveals the former to be by far more popular before and during lockdown when 74% were connected to WI-FI rather than a mobile network. WI-FI connections were also more common in urban areas than rural (66% as opposed to 64%, respectively).
Compared to fixed internet connections, the speed available to the average mobile data user is much lower (64.09 Mbps vs 35.57 Mbps). Still, the speed of mobile internet connections in the UK went up by 22% from 2019 to 2020, while the average download speed of fixed connections only increased by 17% during the same period.
Measured at 198.39 Mbps, Scotland boasts the fastest 5G download speeds in the region or 6.1% faster than the rest of the UK. England is second with 5G download speeds of 184.48 Mbps, followed by Wales with 171.12 Mbps.
(Statista) (Statista) (Statcounter)
According to StatCounter, Google had 97.36% of the search market share far ahead of Yahoo with a 0.97% stake and DuckDuckGo sitting only at 0.72%.
In terms of mobile browser usage, Safari took the lead, holding a share of 47.66%. Chrome was ranked second with a market stake of 41.15%.
Ofcom’s official 2020 report shows that an average of 2.9GB was used on each mobile data connection every month. This number grew by 24% in 2021, with the average mobile data usage sitting at 5.6GB.
Compared to fixed broadband connections, mobile data usage was much lower. Namely, in 2020, fixed connections used 240GB a month and this number grew to 453GB in 2021.
The category of internet-connected devices includes laptops, PCs, tablet computers, and smartphones. According to a 2020 survey, there was a slight decrease in ownership of these kinds of devices. Specifically, 81% of UK adults owned at least one device from which they can access the internet, compared to 82% in 2019 and 83% in 2018.
As of August 2022, mobile web traffic has the second highest market share at 46.41%, with desktop being slightly higher at 48.2% of the web traffic market share. Tablets are last on the list with only 5.4%.
(Office for National Statistics)
2018 smartphone usage statistics tell us that 78% of UK citizens accessed the internet through their smartphones or mobile phones. These devices were prefered by almost all age groups, with the exception of those aged 65 years and older. From this generation, 42% used a tablet to connect to the net as opposed to 36% who used a mobile device.
The majority of internet users in the UK (60%) still use both phones and computers to access the internet, although this percentage has gone down by 3% between 2017 and 2019. On the other hand, mobile device usage statistics indicate that the number of internet users accessing the net solely through phones and tablets has gone up from 25% to 35% during the same period.
In 2019, only 4% of British internet users went online only via computer. This number was higher in 2019 (7%) and 2017 (12%), although still much lower than mobile usage, stats suggest.
The number of people aged 16-24 who use a smartphone to access the internet fell down from 2020, namely, one in ten people in this age group used to access the internet via smartphone, but in 2021 only one in five people did that.
Compared to this, 68% of over-65 year olds use their phone to access the internet.
Additionally, more people used only a smartphone to go online in 2021 than in 2020, 21% and 11% respectively. This is likely due to the lockdown of 2020, meaning people spent more time indoors and had the option to use a wider range of devices to go online.
(Statista) (Statista) (Statista)
The number of men connecting to the internet via mobile is slightly lower than that of women. According to 2021 data on mobile internet users, 94% of women in the UK older than 16 access the net through mobile compared to 93% of men. What’s more, male internet users in Britain are more likely to have a 4G connection on their phone than women (93% vs 90%).
Ofcom’s report suggests that as children get older, their preferences start to shift from other devices to mobile phones. Thus, over two-thirds of British children from 3 to 7 mostly use tablets to access the net, but the overwhelming majority of youngsters between 12 and 15 years of age go online via mobile phone.
EE was the most popular among UK citizens when it comes to the top mobile broadband services, having 22% of the total market share. The other operators that came close are O2 with 19% and Vodafone with 15%, while the fourth main mobile network operator Three was lagging with a 10% market share.
EE, which is owned by BT, has the biggest 4G and 5G coverage in the country. More specifically, this network provider has almost complete 4G population coverage, although the other four networks are pretty close — all of them have at least 99% coverage.
In terms of 5G, EE also takes the lead, covering around 112 towns and cities in the UK. O2 ranks second (108 towns), whereas Three and Vodafone are at the bottom of the list—these two operators have 5G coverage in 68 and 57 towns and cities, respectively.
EE is not just the biggest; it’s also the fastest mobile internet provider in the UK. The network’s overall 4G download speed stands at 36.4 Mbps, much faster than the competition — Vodafone has download speeds of 22.4 Mbps, Three has 22.2 Mbps, and O2 has 18.2 Mbps. EE also leads the pack in terms of latency time (36.0 ms) ahead of Vodafone (39 ms), O2 (38.1 ms) and Three (48.3 ms).
Regarding the price per 1GB of mobile data, the UK is ranked somewhere in the middle. It’s not one of the most expensive, like Canada or the US, but it’s also not as cheap as China or Russia. In fact, the average price of 1GB of mobile data is $1.39, although bundled mobile data deals in Britain can go as low as $0.22 or as high as $64.65 per 1GB.
According to app download and usage statistics in the UK, with 71% usage, an internet browser type app is the most used app by people in the UK. Interestingly, social media apps, e-mail services are in second place with 67% followed closely by messenger apps at 66%.
With over 20 million downloads on both Android and Apple iPhones, the NHS contact tracing app was one of the most downloaded applications for 2020. In fact, on Apple Store, it came second only to the video communication app Zoom.
As of August 2022, the most popular app in the UK is the ASDA Rewards app of the online supermarket ASDA.
Game apps generate the most income, UK app market statistics show. Coin master emerged as the highest-earning app on Google Play Store in the UK with over £2.9 million in revenue, followed by Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds with £1.85.
TikTok came in third with £1.14 million and is the only non-gaming app on the list, followed by Diablo Immortal, Candy Crush Saga, New Romance of the Three Kingdoms, MIR4, and Roblox.
An incredible 98% of the 45 million active social media users in the UK log on to their social networking accounts from their mobile device.
Facebook, the leading social media platform in the UK, also has a high percentage of users accessing their accounts through mobile. More specifically, 97.8% of users access this social media site through a mobile phone.
Mobile e-commerce is growing in the UK. At the start of 2020, 3.8% of online shopping visits through mobile phones were converted into purchases, a number that decreased to 3.5% in Q1 2021.
A 2022 survey from Statista shows that one of the main reasons Brits use smartphones is for online shopping. Smartphones make up the highest share of online purchases at 65%, followed by laptops and tablets at 50% and 33% respectively.
In 2019, 31 million people in the UK watched a video via a mobile phone at least once a month. However, with over 34 million users, the TV set was still the Brits’ favourite go-to-device for watching videos.
The term navigation app encompasses applications such as Google Maps or Global Positioning System (GPS). Interestingly a 2017 survey of over 900 respondents showed that 36% of people in the UK used navigation apps only occasionally.
What’s interesting is the fact that the mobile digital ad spending in the UK in 2021 was only $18.79 billion. This increase of $2.88 billion over the previous year is expected to grow up to $29.33 total in 2025.
The share of mobile in the overall ad spending in the UK has been increasing quite heavily since 2010 when it was only at 1.98% of the total ad spending. Currently the mobile ad spending share is at a steady growth with 2019 mobile ad spending accounting for 56% and 2020 with 59% of the ad spending market share.
Research from eMarketer projects spending on video formats to be slightly higher than banner ad expenditure, which has made up the majority of ad spending so far. Today, thanks to advances in 5G technology, mobile search trends in the UK expect spending on mobile video to grow rapidly, reaching up to $6.7 billion (over £4 billion) by 2023.
Mobile will continue to account for most of the digital ad spending in 2020, but not across all industries. Ad spending growth on computing products, consumer electronics, and finance-related services is expected to be much higher for desktop than for mobile.
(5G UK) (Opensignal)
It’s now estimated that mobile internet users will consume around 4GB per customer and even higher with the introduction of 5G. 5G users in the UK consume an average of 17.4GB, which is 2.5 to 2.7 times higher than the average mobile data consumption by 4G users.
The government and businesses will invest £28 million in nine nationwide projects to help industry and improve people’s lives through 5G mobile internet usage, statistics in 2021 predict. One of the projects will see Sir David Attenborough use 5G to show more of the natural world wonders to audiences across the country, while another will attempt to boost tourism sites, like the Eden Project.
5G, a report by Vodafone suggests, could give the UK economy a much-needed boost after the COVID-19 pandemic and its disastrous consequences. Vodafone argues that 5G technology could provide secure access to public services, such as healthcare and education, as well as enable the UK workforce to work remotely.
As these mobile phone internet usage statistics clearly show, mobile internet penetration in the UK is growing rapidly, and it has no intention of slowing down.
So, whether you’re a marketer looking to exploit mobile internet trends to promote your business, or a user searching for more insight into the significance of mobile internet, we hope that the information we collected has given you the answers you need.
As a digital marketing specialist, I am well aware of how hard it can be to find credible sources online. Frustrated at the state of affairs, I created Don’t Disappoint Me. Now, together with my team of dedicated experts, we aim to bring you 100% reliable, unbiased and recent content on everything you could ever imagine. When I’m not working, you’ll catch me watching a documentary or two, rewatching LOTR for the 20th time, or going on walks with my two dogs, which take up most of my free time. But hey, who’s complaining?