Last year, Singapore was the world's leading country in smartphone usage or penetration (74 percent), followed by Hong Kong, UAE and South Korea. This year, South Korea and Hong Kong have beaten Singapore in the tally: Singapore is No.4 in rank, after Norway at No.3.

This is despite the fact that Singapore now has a penetration rate of 78 percent in 2013.

When it comes to tablets, Hong Kong is No.1 in the world (55 percent penetration). Singapore was No.2 in 2012 but has slipped down the ladder to No.3 spot this year (42 percent), behind Norway (45 percent).

In app usage, South Korea beats all countries in the world with 85 percent usage/penetration. Last year, Singapore was at No.9 with 70 percent penetration. This year, Singapore has moved up to No.5 position, with 75 percent penetration. Interestingly, it is still behind Malaysia by one percentage point. Malaysia has 76 percent penetration rate.

This is according to a research released by telecom and networking company, Ericsson. Ericsson ConsumerLab undertook analysis of an online panel study of 500 Singapore residents aged 16-60 who are daily Internet users. This was part of a survey of 43 countries covering a total of 38,000 people carried out by TNS.

Other major highlights of the study are as follows:

Users of Android smartphones have jumped in Singapore between last year and this year. Android devices have now 48 percent penetration while iOs devices have a 40 percent penetration rate. Last year, Android had only 29 percent market share in Singapore.

Among the top reasons given by the respondents on their intent to purchase a smartphone included to upgrade their device, to access relevant apps and to surf the Internet.

Tablet penetration in Singapore has increased from 31 percent in 2012 to 42 percent in 2013.

A noticeable change is the jump in apps usage from 70 percent in 2012 to 75 percent in 2013, which ranks Singapore fifth in apps usage among the 43 countries included in this years' analysis. In 2012, Singapore was ranked as No.9.

At the same time, there is an increase in the usage of instant messaging, social networks, and video among those who are smartphone users.

Among daily Internet users, tablet penetration on the other hand increased by 11 percent from 2012 to 2013.

"If we look at comparable data for other countries, we can say that Singaporeans tend to make smarter use of their smartphones - respondents surveyed said they used their smartphone for apps, to send and receive instant messages, view video clips, and keep up with friends in their social networks," Afrizal Abdul Rahim, Ericsson ConsumerLab head for Southeast Asia and Oceania, told media in Singapore on Monday (17 June).

The top three reasons for downloading apps among Singaporeans are to perform specific tasks/ functions, to keep in touch with people more easily and to access content on-the-go. "Based on this, we can conclude that Singaporeans are favouring utility, communication and content based-apps," he said.

"Based on the data that we gathered from the networks that we manage around the world, we now forecast an even stronger uptake of smartphones. Smartphone subscriptions in 2018 are now forecast to reach 4.5 billion, compared to our previous (Nov 2012) forecast of 3.3 billion in 2018. This is not least due to a notable increase in the number of smartphone subscriptions in APAC and MEA regions, as subscribers switch their basic phone subscriptions into smartphone subscriptions," Afrizal explained.

Singaporeans' growing interest in apps, social media, video and instant messaging is also in line with the Mobility Report's findings that mobile data traffic continued to double from last year. "Video will be around 50 percent of mobile traffic in 2018, according to our estimates," Afrizal said.

According to the Mobility Report, a smartphone user is expected to more than quadruple mobile monthly data consumption by 2018 compared to today, and will reach an average of 2GB data per user in 2018.

"We expect that Singapore mobile subscribers will indeed increase their mobile monthly data consumption, as its citizens are considered early adopters and innovators when it comes to technology," Afrizal said. "It's already apparent in the data that we have gathered. Today, as we have seen, Singapore app usage is ahead compared with its neighbours in Southeast Asia and even in Oceania."