Smartphone accessories market will ring up revenues of £1.9bn in 2020 as UK reaches ‘peak’ handset ownership


Eighty-nine percent of smartphone owners aged 16-75 in the UK - the equivalent of 43.2 million people - have access to a smartphone, according to Deloitte’s ninth annual Mobile Consumer Survey.

Deloitte’s research, analysing the smartphone usage habits of 4,150 people between the ages of 16 and 75 in the UK, has found that almost every (95%) smartphone is used daily, with more than one in three owners (37%) saying they use their device too much.

Smartphone ownership has soared in recent years, with just 52% having access to a handset in 2012, however the UK is now reaching the ‘plateau of peak-ownership’. Deloitte’s research shows that adoption has nudged up a single percentage point since 2018.

As the smartphone market is plateauing, revenues generated from the sale of smartphone accessories is expected to boom. Deloitte estimates that the market for smartphone hardware products, including audio, power, protection and camera accessories, will reach c.£1.9 billion in the UK in 2020, and £61.5 billion globally.

Paul Lee, global head of research for technology, media and telecoms at Deloitte, commented: “Smartphones now join laptops and tablets as having reached a natural plateau. Handsets are firmly fixed in the vast majority of people’s pockets, and many are often struggling to go a day, or even an hour, without them.”

Smartphone users own six different types of smartphone accessory on average, with cable chargers (98%), phone cases (76%) and wired earphones (64%) the most commonly owned products. As of mid-2019, a sizeable minority of smartphone owners had acquired wireless audio devices: 24% now own wireless headphones and 17% have wireless ear buds.

Lee added: “Instead of buying new devices, owners are now turning to new smartphone accessories which allow them to supercharge their devices capabilities - whether that’s through power packs allowing a longer battery life or new camera accessories which create sharper images. As smartphone unit sales reach their peak, its power as a foundation for multiple revenue streams, including hardware, content, advertising and services, continues to strengthen. For smartphone manufacturers today, accessories have never been so lucrative.”

Younger consumers own eight different types of phone smartphone accessory on average

Younger age groups are more likely to own a higher number of phone accessories, with smartphone owners aged 16-24 having eight types of accessory on average. Audio and camera accessories are far more likely to be owned by younger consumers. Over two in five (43%) of those aged 16-24 own wireless headphones, while 32% own wireless ear buds. Meanwhile, 58% own a portable speaker, compared to a national average of 30%, and 35% own camera accessories, almost double the UK average of 18%.

Deloitte’s research shows that younger age groups are more likely to be using their handsets to play music or watch short videos rather than make a call. 37% of consumers aged 16-24 say they use their mobile phone to make a voice call at least once a day, compared to 46% who use it to stream or play music daily and 53% who use it to watch short videos, live posts or stories.

Dan Adams, head of telecommunications at Deloitte, commented: “As younger generations, whose first computing device was a smartphone, turn to their device for a host of new tasks, their demands for new and improved mobile accessories will continue to inspire new launches.

“Not all smartphone owners are created equal, but we expect tens of millions of owners, in younger age groups, who use their handsets more frequently, to spend over £100 a year on products personalising, protecting or otherwise enhancing their smartphones.”

Consumers turn the page on eReaders, while smart watch ownership ticks up a notch

Further research from Deloitte’s Mobile Consumer Survey highlights that ownership of eReaders, which first launched in 2007, has declined from 31% in 2015 to 26% in 2019. Just 30% of owners now use the device daily, down from 33% in 2018.

Meanwhile, more consumers than ever before are strapping on smart watches. Ownership of the device has grown from just 1% in 2014 to 10% in 2019. 64% of smart watch owners now use their device daily, up from 58% in 2018.

Lee concluded: “An ever widening range of devices are available, but none have caught on quite like the smartphone. In the foreseeable future, smartphones are likely to continue to remain competitive with no other existing or upcoming device able to equal their capabilities. The smartphone may be one of a kind – at least in this generation.”


The Deloitte Cambridge office comprises 8 Partners and over 250 staff who deliver a full range of professional services to the East Anglian region. As well as focussing on the life sciences and technology sectors for which the region has become so renowned, the office has long standing specialisms in other sectors including the professions, consumer business, food and agribusiness.

Deloitte LLP