Commentators like to talk about the popularity of different mobile devices around the world, and keeping that in mind there are probably few better gauges of this than the amount of data that each type of device uses. Which is why it comes as a mild surprise to learn that the iPhone continues to gobble up the most amount of data in Europe.
The research firm Arieso undertook a wide-ranging study encompassing a total of 125 different ‘smart’ devices, and found that European iPhone users know no bounds when it comes getting their ‘fill’ of data. On average, iPhone 5 users consumed almost 40% more data than those using the older iPhone 4S, and precisely four times as much as anyone with the relatively antiquated iPhone 3G.
However, it’s not just Apple fanbois consuming vast quantities of data, as Samsung lovers proved to be almost as greedy – at least, when it comes to data uploads. According to Arieso, Galaxy S3 owners were the hungriest of all in terms of the amount of data they uploaded, pushing huge amounts of photos, videos and other content onto the web via their smartphones. In second place for data uploads was the Galaxy Note 2, with the iPhone 5 trailing in a distant 3rd place.
Samsung also came out on top in the tablet stakes, with users of the Samsung Tab 2.0 consuming 20% more bytes than those using Apple’s iPad.
Above all else however, it’s clear that the real data hogs are smartphone users, with these smaller devices far outstripping their weightier counterparts. Smartphones accounted for six of the top ten data hungry devices, with three tablets and one ‘phablet’ making up the rest.
Michael Flanagan, Chief Technology Office at Ariesco, said that it was surprising that smartphones were seeing so much more use:
“This is pretty counterintuitive, but it seems the capabilities of the newest smartphones — not tablets — are unleashing even greater user demand.”
“Regardless of device type and operating system, there is very little variation in the usage ‘signature’ between smartphone users and between tablet users. From this we discover that voice-capable ‘phablets’ — like the Samsung Galaxy Note II — are currently being used like smartphones, not tablets.”
What’s even more interesting is that just 1% of users were responsible for downloading 40% of all data consumed on 3G/UMTS networks over the last year. However, it did note that LTE network users are starting to enter the equation, and said was likely that these networks would take up the slack during the next year.
“The region we studied this year has recently launched LTE, and we’re already seeing extreme users – especially those with dongles – starting to flock to 4G,” adds Flanagan.
“In many respects, this is great news – LTE networks are doing their job. But the consumption levels and patterns of LTE use are very different to what operators could expect from 3G. It’s a complex, fluid, and increasingly high stakes situation for operators to deal with.”
Ariesco said that its study was focused on a single, top-tier European carrier, but pointed out that it was relevant for all users as data consumption appears to be quite constant across all regions of Europe.