Half of UK homes turn to tablets - in just five years

27 May 2015

The tablet computer has established itself as a must-have device in just five years with more than half of UK homes now owning one.

Apple’s iPad launched in the UK on 28 May 2010 and, alongside Android and other tablet devices, it is helping to shape the way we surf the internet, communicate and watch TV and video.

The rapid rise in popularity of tablets means that over half of UK households (54%) now have one1, up from just 2% in 2011.

Tablets are proving particularly popular among people aged 35-54 with nearly two thirds of this age group (64%) having a tablet.

The trend looks set to continue - 21% of households currently without a tablet told Ofcom they were likely to get one within the next 12 months. 

A tablet generation

According to Ofcom research, seven in ten (71%) children aged 5-15 had access to a tablet at home by the end of 2014, up from just over half (51%) in 2013.

And many kids do not even have to share a tablet with their parents. One in three children (34%) aged 5-15 have their own device - up from one in five (19%) in 2013.

Tablets are also proving popular with toddlers - one in ten (11%) of 3-4 year olds now have their own tablet to keep them entertained.

Gaming on tablets

In terms of reach, the mobile phone was the primary device used for gaming by the end of 2014, with over a quarter (26%) of mobile users playing games at least once a week.

But gaming on tablets is becoming increasingly popular, and catching up on console gaming. Some 15% of all adults use a tablet to play games such as Angry Birds, Halo or Candy Crush compared with 17% for gaming on consoles. Almost one in four (24%) 16-24 year olds are regularly gaming on their tablet.

Gaming on a tablet at least once a week, by age: 2011 vs. 2014


App usage

Tablets are helping to drive the use of apps, with 86% of adults who go online on a tablet using apps at the end of 2014.

News apps are proving popular with 48% of all app users typically getting their headlines on an app, compared to 37% who tend to use a web browser.

But, when searching for information, the browser still prevails. 61% of app users mostly use a browser to find the information they are looking for. Only 25% tend to use an app.

Using a tablet when out and about

While more than one in three adults (37%) use a tablet to go online at home, only 15% appear to take their tablet with them when out and about - away from home, work or their place of study.

Devices used to go online: at home or out and about, 2014

(% of UK adults)


Watching video clips is proving popular on tablets. At the end of 2014, 58% of people with a tablet connected at home were watching video clips online. 36% were watching catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer or ITV Player.

Kate Reeve, Director of Consumer Research at Ofcom, said: “In just five years, tablets have become a must-have device for millions of UK households.

“We’re using them to catch up with the news, watch our favourite soaps and keep the kids entertained, with around one in three 5-15 year olds having their own tablet.”



  1. Ofcom research, February 2015
  2. Section 11 of the Communications Act 2003 requires Ofcom to promote media literacy in the UK. Under Section 14 (6a) of the Act, Ofcom has a duty to make arrangements for the carrying out of research into the matters mentioned in Section 11 (1).