U.S. iPhone Owners Have Most Expensive Monthly Wireless Bills

iPhone users pay more on average for their monthly wireless data plans than those of any other phone platform, according to new research from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), provided Wednesday by AllThingsD. The iPhone also has the highest retention rate among both smartphones and basic “feature” phones.

The survey of U.S. consumers asked respondents which phone platform they currently use, and what their monthly plan cost, including multi-phone plans. Only 6 percent of iOS users spend under $50 per month for wireless service, with 36 percent spending between $51 and $100 per month, 49 percent spending $101 to $200, and 10 percent spending over $200 per month.

Altogether, about 60 percent of iPhone owners spend more than $100 per month on their wireless service, compared to 56 percent of Windows Phone users, 53 percent of Android users, 41 percent of “basic” phone users, and 40 percent of Blackberry users.

Average Monthly Carrier Bill iPhone

CIRP co-founder Michael Levin offered AllThingsD a theory on the results of the study:

We think it has to do with [iOS users’] data plans and carriers, rather than their usage habits. They are all on expensive data plans, unlike Android users, some of which are on prepaid or unsubsidized plans with regional carriers.

Despite the premium paid by iPhone owners for wireless service, carriers are not necessarily making more money due to Apple’s demand for large subsidies on the device, as explained by CIRP’s Josh Levitz:

With the exception of perhaps the hottest Android phones, we think the subsidies on Android phones are lower, so the carriers make more money even with slightly lower per subscriber revenue.

The U.S. mobile phone market may soon change dramatically, however. Carrier T-Mobile is pioneering a plan to eliminate device subsidies in favor of lower monthly payments and contract-free options. With reports that Verizon and AT&T are interested in following T-Mobile’s strategy, monthly plan costs for users of all mobile phones could see significant reductions in the near future.

The survey also asked users about their previous phones, and found that iOS has the highest retention rate, with 88% of current iPhone owners upgrading from a previous iOS device. Only 64% of current Android users stuck with that platform. In disappointing news for RIM and Microsoft, only 7 percent of Blackberry users upgraded from a previous Blackberry device and 9 percent of Windows Phone users came from a previous version of that operating system.