The smartphone has overtaken the laptop computer as the primary device used to share digital photographs with friends and family, according to a survey.

Facebook was the most popular way to share photos via an app or website, in the poll of 4,000 consumers aged 18 and over, across the UK, USA, France and Germany.

In the UK, WhatsApp was the second most popular way to share photos in the past 12 months, according to the Futuresource Consulting survey.

Email remained a popular platform to share photos online. This could be due to a ‘perceived higher level of security/privacy’, asserted Futuresource.

Snapchat showed the most significant growth in photo sharing – with an increase of 12% in the USA.

The smartphone was the device most often used to take photos, adds the Futuresource Consumer Photo Sharing Report.

The research showed that more than 60% of respondents took photos using a smartphone, at least once a week, while only 29% did the same on a fixed-lens camera.

A Futuresource spokesman said: ‘Smartphone cameras are constantly improving in terms of lens and resolution, as are the weight and battery life of smartphones themselves – making them far more suitable as substitutes for fixed-lens cameras, which contrasts with last year’s findings, in which the ownership of fixed-lens cameras was marginally higher.’

Despite an increase in photo sharing over social media, 57% of consumers still bought a printed photo product.

‘Photo prints are leading the way, with 42% of people making a purchase, followed by photobooks at 23%,’ said Futuresource research analyst Jamal Mehmood.

‘There are very clear differences in purchase behaviour across the countries surveyed, with photo prints the least popular in the UK, while France is leading the way in photobook purchases by quite a margin.’