The iPhone 5 is having a significant effect on mobile networks in Europe, as users of the latest Apple smartphone use the most data overall and are consuming 50 percent more data than those using its predecessor, the iPhone 4S, according to a new report from mobile research firm Arieso Monday. Heavy data use by the iPhone 5 and other smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S III resulted in smartphone mobile data usage higher than that from tablets for the first time, according to the report.
For the first time, smartphone users are consistently consuming more mobile data than tablet users. Out of the top ten most voracious devices (excluding dongles) six were smartphones, three tablets and one a ‘phablet’ [tablet-sized devices capable of making phone calls, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note II]. Tablet users placed 4th, 8th and 9th.
Arieso CTO Dr. Michael Flanagan explained the results by identifying both increasingly common smartphone technologies, such as LTE, as well as changing usage patterns. The increasing capabilities of smartphones, plus the added option to make phone calls, are causing more individuals to chose a smartphone over a tablet while on the go, Dr. Flanagan stated.
Among smartphones, users of the iPhone 5 took first place overall for total mobile data usage, although the latest iPhone fell to third place in terms of upload usage. Samsung products, the Galaxy Note II and the Galaxy S III, took first and second place, respectively, for the highest average upload totals.
The study also considered tablet usage, and the Samsung Tab 2 10.1 used on average 20 percent more data than the iPad.
These numbers represent tough challenges for mobile operators around the world as devices become more accessible and more capable. Currently, 40 percent of European data is consumed by 1 percent of users, and technologies such as LTE are being quickly deployed to handle the load.
While the Arieso study examined data usage in Europe, the firm claims that the results apply equally to carriers everywhere:
Wherever they are in the world, operators have to deal with similar challenges created by extreme data use. Every year, the situation gets tougher and more complicated. But it is worth remembering two salient points. One, that these challenges only result from our industry’s incredible success in creating devices, services and networks that billions of people want to use every hour of every day. Two, that these puzzles are surmountable through careful attention to the needs of subscribers where they demand services from the network.
The report examines data usage overall and does not attempt to evaluate data efficiency. It is therefore difficult to tell if owners of certain devices are simply using them more or if some devices and mobile operating systems do not make efficient use of data transmission, resulting in higher usage totals.