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UK mobile calls fall for the first time

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Chinnapong)

The UK saw a drop in the number of phone calls made using a mobile device for the first time last year, new figures have revealed.

The latest Communications Market Report published by Ofcom has revealed that 2017 saw the first decline in call volumes ever recorded as the UK goes increasingly digital.

Ofcom found that using a mobile for calls is only considered important by 75 per cent of smartphone users, compared to 92 per cent who named web browsing as important.

The report added that 78 per cent of people in the UK now own a smartphone, compared to just 17 per cent a decade ago - and this rises to 95 per cent among 16-24 year olds.

Consumers are also more dependent on their devices than ever before, Ofcom found, with the average person checking their smartphone every 12 minutes of the waking day. Overall, 72 per cent of users access the internet on their mobile device, up from just 20 per cent almost a decade ago. 

The report also found that the need for a constant internet connection has also become increasingly important to UK users, with nearly two thirds of adults (64 per cent) say the internet is an "essential" part of their life. However 15 per cent of people agreed that it made them feel like they were always at work.

One in five adults (19 per cent) say they spend more than 40 hours a week online, up from five percent just over ten years ago. However internet usage was not just about entertainment, with two fifths of respondents (41 per cent) say being online enables them to work more flexibly.

“Over the last decade, people’s lives have been transformed by the rise of the smartphone, together with better access to the internet and new services," said Ian Macrae, Ofcom’s Director of Market Intelligence.

“Whether it’s working flexibly, keeping up with current affairs or shopping online, we can do more on the move than ever before. But while people appreciate their smartphone as their constant companion, some are finding themselves feeling overloaded when online, or frustrated when they’re not.”

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro, and has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and ITProPortal.