iPhone 5 owners eat the most data

Owners of the Apple iPhone 5 chew through more mobile data than other smartphone or tablet owners

Barry Collins
14 Jan 2013

iPhone 5 owners are the most rapacious consumers of mobile data, according to a new study.

Arieso's study of the data consumption of tens of thousands of smartphone and tablet owners found that the latest devices are placing even greater strain on already stretched mobile networks.

iPhone 5 owners download 50% more data than users of its previous flagship handset, the iPhone 4S, and more than four times the data of iPhone 3G owners, Arieso found. The HTC Sensation XL is the second most data-hungry handset, followed by the Samsung Galaxy S III.

Smartphones account for six of the ten most data-intensive devices, excluding dongles (see below). Samsung's Galaxy Note 2 "phablet" is placed fifth on the list; two iPads and the Samsung Galaxy Tab round off the top ten.

The Arieso report doesn't reveal exactly what consumers are downloading on their handsets, but the company has theories on why the iPhone 5 is topping the charts. "It is plausible that the faster A6 chipset and larger Retina display influence device usage," the report states. "It is also estimated that the migration of experienced users from earlier iPhone models will also result in increased data consumption, along with iCloud synchronisation."

While the Samsung Galaxy S III is behind the iPhone in terms of downloads, it's the handset that uses the most data on the uplink. "Users of the Samsung Galaxy S III generate almost as much uplink data as four iPhone 3G users," the report states. "This is consistent with the high-resolution 8-megapixel primary camera and the 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera."

Greedy dongles

The Arieso report highlights one of the reasons why mobile networks are increasingly shying away from unlimited data deals. Only 1% of subscribers account for 40% of all the data consumed - although this figure has fallen from 50% last year.

Of that hungry 1%, 54% of them are using mobile dongles or 3G modems in laptops, predominantly as a replacement for a fixed-line connection. "Even the [heaviest] smartphone and tablet users are often seen to make use of the network from a small number of discrete locations," the report states.

The ten most data-hungry devices

(Percentage shown is data consumption compared to iPhone 3G users, which are used as the reference point)

1. iPhone 5 - 414%

2. HTC Sensation XL - 317%

3. Samsung Galaxy S III - 315%

4. Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 - 309%

5. Samsung Galaxy Note 2 - 307%

6. HTC One X - 286%

7. iPhone 4S - 279%

8. iPad - 261%

9. iPad 2 - 259%

10. Sony Ericsson Xperia 5 - 252%

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