/ Technology

Are smartphones your top internet browsing device?

Smartphone and laptop

For the first time, Brits are now using the internet more on their smartphones than on their laptops. Do you do most of your browsing on your phone?

Phones have now leap-frogged laptops to become the most popular device for going online, according to Ofcom’s latest research. It’s a good job the new Which? Convo will be optimised for mobile browsers…

Smartphone’s aren’t a runaway winner, with 33% of internet users saying that their phone is their top browsing device, compared to 30% sticking with their laptop. But that’s still quite the change from last year, where 40% preferred to use their laptop compared to just 22% turning to their phones.

The UK’s now a smartphone society

I’ve seen the change in my own behaviour too. Disregarding my use of a desktop at Which? HQ to work on Which? Convo, I’m mostly on my smartphone. Checking Which? websites, looking at my emails, taking a peek at Facebook, browsing stories on Reddit, sending messages on WhatsApp.

And I’m using my laptop less and less. It’s handy for watching Netflix or for when I need to work from home, but even the first of those tasks is starting to be fulfilled by my tablet. Could I live without my laptop? Probably not, but mobile devices are gradually chipping away at my laptop’s raison d’etre.

The surge is apparently due to 4G mobile broadband. 4G users are watching more online videos, doing more online shopping and doing more online banking than their 3G cousins. I guess I’ll have to put a 4G phone on my Christmas wish list this year.

Mobile manners

The elephant in the room is whether all this smartphone use is a good thing. Apart from your own health (I spend way too long looking at screens), there are manners to think of. Although four in ten people admit to checking their phone at the dinner table, more than half think it’s unacceptable to do so. On that point, I’m very much in favour of a smartphone amnesty in restaurants – pop all your phones on the table and don’t reach for them until the bill’s paid. That keeps all conversations at the table, rather than over the airwaves.

Are you doing more of your internet browsing on your smartphone? What role does your laptop or PC play in your life, and has that changed over the past few years?

Which device do you MOST use to go online?

Desktop PC (46%, 1,040 Votes)

Laptop (39%, 887 Votes)

Tablet PC (8%, 187 Votes)

Smartphone (6%, 134 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,248

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When there’s serious work (or surfing) to be done, nothing beats a computer with a decent monitor and keyboard, e.g. a good desktop PC or a docked laptop.

But mobile ‘net acess via phones, tablets and laptops is useful too.

Yvonne says:
21 August 2015

For emails, ordering on the web etc. I have a laptop with an additional large screen (ideal for editing photos). I never use my phone for emails as I need reading glasses to see the screen & even then the small print annoys me. The additional screen is also great for dragging & dropping etc.


People now have seem to do not have time to wait . They must do everything as soon as possible today it’s all about speed in every thing they do


I am rather shocked at the number of people who are meant to be using smartphones for online banking given the grave security flaws of Android.

Ignorance must be bliss. : )

” A security gap on Android, the most popular smartphone operating system, was discovered by security experts in a lab and is so far not widely exploited.

Android is the most popular mobile operating system on Earth: About 80 percent of smartphones run on it. And, according to mobile security experts at the firm Zimperium, there’s a gaping hole in the software — one that would let hackers break into someone’s phone and take over, just by knowing the phone’s number.

In this attack, the target would not need to goof up — open an attachment or download a file that’s corrupt. The malicious code would take over instantly, the moment you receive a text message.
“This happens even before the sound that you’ve received a message has even occurred,” says Joshua Drake, security researcher with Zimperium and co-author of Android Hacker’s Handbook. “That’s what makes it so dangerous. [It] could be absolutely silent. You may not even see anything.”

SO everyone currently with an Android operating system is waiting on the manufacturer of their particular phone to deploy the fix to the flaw found in the Spring this year. Reassuring to think that whilst we are told it has not been used to gain control of a phone there is no real way to know.

There are around 54 exploits listed at CVEdetails .com. This is not a complete list and for most users is incomprehensible. However the gist is that the Android system, like most operating systems , is deployed with built in flaws that eventually are discovered.

Obviously the chances of particularly being picked on for a fraud are low. Having your pictures and photos trawled is possible. And of course someone deliberately trying to brick phones must be considered an unlikely threat. However rather like the lottery “It could be you”.

It would be worthwhile if there was a central register for people to report hacked phones so an idea of scale might be gained by the general public. The carriers , the vendors, and the manufacturers all have a vested interest in underplaying threats.

You could of course include banks and on-line shopping venues who all benefit from lowered costs of providing a service.


I removed all on-line banking Apps from my Android phone as soon as I heard of that threat.

I also only use my own 3G connections or reputable home wifi networks. I won’t use free wifi in venues such as restaurants because it is all too easy for hackers to either offer their own “trojan” networks or monitor network traffic at such venues.

PhilK says:
15 August 2015

I use Kaspersky security software. Does that provide protection?


Your comments about the security of android are nonsense:

Using the same measure you referenced (number of security vulnerabilities discovered):
* Android had 54 vulnerabilities discovered
* The Iphone had 537 security vulnerabilities discovered
* Windows 7 had 448 security vulnerabilities discovered
* OSX had 1,143 security vulnerabilities discovered

.. making Android *by far* the safest way to access online banking if you’re going by CVE count.

All operating systems and computer systems will have vulnerabilities – but Android stands out from all the other commonly used operating systems as being the most secure!


” More vulnerabilities were discovered in Google Chrome last year than any other piece of core internet software – that’s according to research that also found 2014 clocked record numbers of zero-day flaws.”
The Register 26/3/2015

20/8/15 The Register
Yet another potentially serious security flaw has been revealed in Android.
This time the problem involves the mobile operating system’s ability to run more than one app at once – as opposed to its handling of multimedia messages, which was the crux of a cyber* of vulnerabilities last month.
The latest security blunder opens the door to criminals who want to spy on device owners, steal login details, install ransomware, and so on, it is claimed.
We’re told the vulnerability can be exploited to show a spoofed user interface, controlled by an attacker, when someone starts an app: the owner will not be aware that they are typing into another program masquerading as a legit application.
“The enabled attacks can affect all latest Android versions and all apps (including the most privileged system apps) installed on the system,” warned Chuangang Ren, a security researcher from Penn State University.
A paper on the vulnerability [PDF] – presented at the USENIX Security 15 conference in Washington DC last week – explained:”

Google says there is security in place to protect from this however one cannot but feel University researchers may have tested this before going into print so I am not necessarily believing Google when they talking of their system.

Overall the statistics provided by Tim illustrate that software is inherently buggy and therefore you should not be totally surprised that there are constsnt up-dates , some ahead of problems and some behind events.