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Mobile and Internet Usage Trend in the UK for 2020

The mobile and internet market is rapidly advancing globally. According to estimates, there will be over 3.5 billion smartphone users worldwide by the end of 2020, that’s over 40% of the world population. It’s important to know the recent trends happening in the UK to remain relevant. 

People in the UK use smartphones a lot. Statistics indicate that a lot of users spend close to 3 hours, on average, daily on their smartphones. We live in a society where people are addicted to their mobile devices. When you take a look around, you’ll notice the number of people using their mobile phones.

These numbers present new opportunities for marketers. When you consider the number of users that will locate services through their mobile device, it’s extremely necessary to ensure you take advantage of these trends. The UK is one of the leading countries in online purchasing and a lot of users report that they do not have any security problems.

The UK is network-ready and the residents are digitally sound. And although they spend less time online than the world average, most households have access to the internet and almost 8 out of 10 people are online daily. 

There is high smartphone ownership in the UK, with two-thirds reporting that they use their phones immediately to come online. Over 25 percent of UK web traffic is from mobile users and half of those with active social media accounts access them through their mobile phones.

Digital activities in the UK

Out of 139 countries surveyed, the United Kingdom ranked number 8 in the Network Readiness Index. A report by the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology in 2016 assesses the factors, policies, and institutions that made a nation leverage information and communication technologies for more competitiveness and well-being. 

The report reveals the link between the ICT level of a country and the economic and social impacts information and communication have on its economy and society. With a high ranking, the World Economic Forum believes that the UK is well-positioned to use recent advances in ICTs to its advantage.

Among 28 countries in the EU, the UK ranked 7th highest on internet penetration rate; only 5 percent of users didn’t have access to the internet in the past year. Almost the whole country could access the internet with an estimated number of 62 million users monthly in 2020. 

It is estimated that this number will increase by 2025 to 65 million monthly users. In the same period, the UK is expected to have an increase in penetration rate by 97.5 percent.

Who owns a smartphone?

For most people, it is difficult to picture what life was like before we owned mobile devices, but phones are still a relatively new technology. So how many UK residents own a smartphone in 2020?

According to studies, 84 percent of adults in the UK adults (over 16 years of age) own a smartphone in 2020. But the breakdown across age categories shows a more detailed insight.

People aged 16-24 were most likely to have access to mobile internet, with 98 percent owning an internet-enabled mobile device. In comparison, only 53 percent of adults aged over 65 have access to the internet through their smartphones; this is the lowest use out of any age group.

How much data is used in the UK?

A report by Ofcom shows that UK residents are using 50 percent more data per month in 2020 than they were using the previous year. Averagely, Brits use up to 2.9GB of data monthly.

The amount of data used monthly depends on the things they do on their mobile device. For instance, streaming videos can easily consume your allowance, with HD (1080p) streaming usage amounting to 1.5GB per hour. 

Further research shows that 67 percent of Brits don’t usually use all of the mobile data they pay for, while close to 7 percent of Brits end up spending more money than anticipated on extra data.

Where do Brits spend most of their time online?

Averagely, in 2020, people in the UK spend 4 hours online daily, with over 71 percent of this time being spent online on their mobile devices. This means that they spend almost 3 hours on a smartphone daily, a 30 percent increase from 2019. So what activities do they do online? 

  • Brits spend an average of 49 minutes daily on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok
  • 1 in every 5 minutes spent online is on social media platforms
  • More than 70 percent of adults in the UK have at least an account on social media
  • Over 35 percent of time spent online is on sites owned by Google and Facebook such as YouTube and Instagram

Online Purchase Behavior in the UK

Brits regularly buy goods online. 76 percent of adults in the UK reported buying goods or services over the internet in the past year, with a difference in likelihood depending on the age group. In a survey conducted for more than a month by GlobalWebIndex, the UK had the highest percentage of its populace buying a product or service online.

  • 90 percent of adults aged 16-24 bought something over the internet this year
  • 42 percent of those aged over 65 made an online purchase

Cookies in the UK

65 percent of internet users in the UK know that cookies can be used to trace their activities online. The UK regulatory space has had some back and forth around cookies. The latest position is that cookies fall under the rule that “implied consent” is enough. 

In other words, when a user visits a website, he or she has agreed to accept the cookies they are given because they mentioned that in their privacy policy. What this means for Brits is that they can read in detail about the regulations around cookies in the UK and learn how to ensure they comply with the Globig Data Protection Regulations in the UK section.

Download speed in the UK by internet providers

When looking at the average download speed, the gap between operators is quite obvious. Out of the four providers studied, EE has the best download speed of 21.2 Mbps, almost 8Mbps faster than Vodafone, who sits at second place, and more than double that of O2 and 3. The provider with the slowest was Three for those downloading via 3’s network, with an average speed of 9.7Mbps.

  • EE 21.2 Mbps
  • Vodafone 13.3 Mbps
  • O2 9.9 Mbps
  • Three 9.7 Mbps


Mobile and the internet keeps on changing the way people go about their daily lives, particularly in areas such as communication and shopping. In the UK, more than three-quarters of adults use the internet daily, 78 percent use it almost every day, and 74 percent accessed the internet on the go.