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Locked Out: The Smartphone Deficit

Digital access for consumers only using smartphones to access the internet


Some people can only access the internet through their smartphone. When CAS surveyed clients, we found that this was the case for more than 1 in 10 respondents - 20% of all respondents who said they used the internet at all.

 This report looks in more detail at these consumers, analysing their characteristics and assessing their digital access and skills.

Key findings from this report include:

  • younger people being more likely to report that their only internet access was via smartphones
  • smartphone use being related to relative deprivation, but less so to the level of rurality where consumers lived
  • "smartphone only" consumers using the internet and emails less often than other internet users
  • smartphone only consumers being less able to undertake basic tasks, compared to other internet users - e.g. downloading, saving, completing or uploading forms
  • more than 4 in 10 smartphone only consumers indicating that cost was a barrier to them using the internet

As more and more services shift online, smartphone only internet users must be considered in the design and delivery of those services. Where vital services are not accessible via smartphones, service providers have a duty to ensure access to computers and support to use them. 

For the full report, please click the "Download Publication" button below.

Adam Milne & Keith Dryburgh
Publication date
August 2018
Publication type
Number of pages