Smartphones now most popular way of connecting to web
SMARTPHONES are now the most popular way by which people access the internet, overtaking laptops.
Industry watchdog Ofcom said the figures showed the north had become a "smartphone society".
Its latest communications market report found that two-thirds of adults now carry one of the devices rather than a traditional mobile.
The rise in popularity of using the phones to go online could stem the growth of tablets which have surged in popularity over recent years.
Of those surveyed by Ofcom, 37 per cent said smartphones were now their preferred method of accessing the internet.
Just four years ago, only one-in-five adults had such a phone.
Using a laptop to access the internet was the most popular method for 26 per cent of people followed closely by tablet devices (25 per cent).
Tablet ownership has rocketed in recent years with more than half of households now owning one (54 per cent).
In 2011, just 2 per cent of homes in the north had a tablet but the growth could be stymied as smartphones develop.
Ocfom's director in the north Jonathan Rose said: “Northern Ireland is becoming a nation of smartphone users, with these devices now overtaking the laptop 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.
“But not everyone has access to good broadband and mobile coverage. Ofcom wants to see the widest possible availability of communications services and is considering what further options might be available to improve coverage, both mobile and fixed-line broadband, as part of its digital communications review.”
The report found that 77 per cent of premises in the north could access broadband speeds of at least 30Mbits per second.
Meanwhile, it found 4G mobile coverag was available to 91.1 per cent of premises in Northern Ireland, second only to England in the UK.
Ofcom found television was still the most important news platform for people while 70 per cent of households in the north subscribe at a paid-for TV service - the highest proportion in the UK.