iPhone 4S users consume double the data of iPhone 4 users

Jan 6, 2012
Tech

A new study has found that users of Apple’s new iPhone 4S are consuming a whole lot more data than users with earlier iterations of the smartphone, and that it could strain cellular networks. The data comes from network research firm Arieso, which compared data usage of the iPhone 4S against customers who own the […]

A new study has found that users of Apple’s new iPhone 4S are consuming a whole lot more data than users with earlier iterations of the smartphone, and that it could strain cellular networks.

The data comes from network research firm Arieso, which compared data usage of the iPhone 4S against customers who own the iPhone 3G. It found that 4S users consume as much as three times as much data as their old-iPhone brethren, as GigaOM reports, and double the data that iPhone 4 customers use.

Arieso’s study measured about a million smartphones on a European cellular network, and found the iPhone 4S had the highest download rate of any of them. The HTC Desire S outpaced the iPhone 4S in terms of uploading, but just barely. The study also found that 1 percent of users accounted for more than half of all data consumption on the network.

Data usage is trending up all over the industry and all over the world, and as PC World points out, there’s probably more to the story than placing the blame on Siri, Apple’s new voice-controlled personal data assistant software, as Arieso suggests. Siri does require an active Internet connection in order to function, but as an Ars Technica study recently found, even frequent use of the software shouldn’t do too much damage to your monthly wireless bill.

The better smartphones become, the more cool things they do – and lots of those functions require Internet functionality. It’s easy to blame Siri because it’s the most popular and visible feature (so to speak) on Apple’s new device. But Apple also rolled out new cloud functionality with the iPhone 4S and iOS 5. Cloud syncing could potentially cost a lot of data, for example. And in terms of iPhones, the 4S is faster and more capable than earlier iPhones, with a better camera and a faster data connection. These are tools that beg people to create things with their smartphones and upload them to the Internet. An uptick in data usage makes a lot of sense when you can snap 8-megapixel photos and reliably upload them to Facebook wherever you are.

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While many Android devices are also among the high data consumers cited by Arieso and Siri might not really be the culprit, the growing trend of high data usage may have some real effects on users in the future. If networks are strained by higher-resolution photos and videos and smartphones that just allow users to do more, it could result in more stringent data caps from carriers, or more expensive data plans. Providers will likely have to find new ways to deal with all that data usage, and fast.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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