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Smartphone ownership about to overtake the PCs globally

As the number of smartphone owners draws level with PC owners, it's Samsung that makes the most popular smartphones but Apple that makes the most desired handsets, and while phones and tablets are firmly cemented into the life of consumers around the globe, it is still very early days for wearables.

gadgets Updated: Sep 19, 2015 16:22 IST

As the number of smartphone owners draws level with PC owners, it's Samsung that makes the most popular smartphones but Apple that makes the most desired handsets, and while phones and tablets are firmly cemented into the life of consumers around the globe, it is still very early days for wearables.

Almost 80% of adults around the globe now use a smartphone and tablets are almost at the 50% mark too, according to the latest research into device ownership by Global Web Index (GWI).

The GWI Report into device ownership trends, which covers a sample of 47,496 internet users in 34 territories around the globe from the Americas to Australia, show that the PC is still the single most popular tool for online access -- 88% of respondents have a desktop or notebook, compared with 79% who have a smartphone -- but as handset ownership rates continue to climb, the amount of time spent on traditional computers is falling.

In 2012, an average 4.31 hours were spent online via a computer and just 1.24 hours via mobile. As we move into the fourth quarter of 2015, that time has risen to 2.01 hours globally and 3.5 hours for the average Latin American web user, while PC use has dropped to 4.05 hours daily.

Breaking those figures down by age and region, 16-to-24-year-olds are spending on average 3.25 hours a day accessing the web via mobile, and, while Latin Americans spend the most time online via a mobile device, Europeans spend the least -- on average just 1.54 hours a day.

As for type of handset, Samsung is the world's leading brand by use and Android the number-one operating system in every country surveyed.

Just 20.3% of internet users currently own an iPhone. However, when asked, more people say that they are considering an iPhone than any other handset as their next phone. In China, according to GWI, one in four surveyed already have an iPhone and 40% said that they would consider an iPhone as their next purchase. As for the popularity of individual models, 25% of iPhone owners have an iPhone 5S, 16.2% an iPhone 6 and a further 7.9% the iPhone 6 Plus phablet.

Globally, 47% of people say they have a tablet, and 50% of that group say that it is a shared device used by friends or other family members.

As for wearable devices, just 11% of respondents claim to have a smartwatch, with China leading the trend. One in five Chinese respondents are currently sporting a smartwatch of some shape or form, while in Europe and North America adoption rates are still hovering around the 5% mark.

But, as GWI points out, China is skewing the figures as devices that cost as little as $20 currently on sale in the country technically count as smartwatches.

In Europe, Android Wear devices cost €150 or more and the most affordable Apple Watch is €399.