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NPD: Large-screen smartphone owners use 44 percent more data

updated 06:16 pm EST, Thu November 28, 2013

Smartphone data consumption higher on phablets

Owners of smartphones with larger screens consume considerably more data on their devices than do the owners of smaller devices like Apple's iPhone. The finding comes from new figures out from The NPD Group, which looked at monthly Wi-Fi and cellular data consumption among American consumers. For the three months ending July 2013, NPD found that the owners of smartphones with screens sized 4.5 inches and larger used 44 percent more data than those with smaller devices.

Owners of devices with screen sizes smaller than 4.5 inches used about 5GB of data per month on Wi-Fi and cellular connections. Those with larger devices used around 7.2GB of data per month.

Source: The NPD Group
Source: The NPD Group

The study found large-screen devices in heavier use for each of the five app categories NPD listed. In social media, navigation, video, retail, and music apps, large-screen devices outstripped their smaller counterparts in usage. Video in particular showed a sizable gap in usage, with nearly 85 percent of respondents using their large-screen devices for such purposes, while only about 70 percent of smaller-screened device owners used their smartphones for video.

The findings illustrate the usefulness of larger-screened smartphones for purposes previously better suited for tablets and notebook computers. Apple has come under criticism from many tech observers for not expanding the screen sizes for its iPhone line of devices. The company has typically responded that larger screens come with trade-offs in battery life and other aspects of the smartphone experience, saying that it will not release any larger-screened devices until those trade-offs have been resolved. Still, the iPhone maker is rumored to be working on new iPhone models with screen sizes between 4.8 and six inches.

Source: The NPD Group
Source: The NPD Group

To date, Apple has left the "phablet" segment alone, and that has apparently had little effect on the company's device sales. Despite the proliferation of larger smartphones from many manufacturers, Apple still takes the lion's share of profits in the smartphone industry. Its chief rival, Samsung, takes the remainder, and all other manufacturers currently either break even or lose money on their mobile divisions.

NPD's numbers are based on an on-device SmartMeter distributed to a three-month rolling panel. The survey company says that the SmartMeter provides a survey population equivalent to 4,500 users. That panel is weighted to be representative of the distribution of Android and iPhone users within the United States. [Lead image via Phone Arena.]

by MacNN Staff



  1. SunSeeker

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 04-12-01


    Is this because those users are more engaged and consuming a greater quantity of content or is this because some of their content is streaming at a a higher bit rate to support their larger screens.

    Perhaps it's just because their users are sending more snapchats than the typical iPhone or smaller screen user.

    Maybe iOS is somehow more efficient with data.
    Perhaps it's all the extra data Google are streaming from these devices to their servers.

  1. chefpastry

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 11-14-05

    Take anything from these research firms with a large grain of salt...

  1. Foe Hammer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-16-05

    In related research, people with bigger butts use more toilet paper.
    These research firms continue to astound.

  1. cisbell

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-12-11

    Uh...DUH!!!! The larger the screen, the more data that can be crammed/displayed on it. i.e., more real estate means that more info downloads to each screen, ergo, more data usage. God what a stupid study. It's like all those idiots, including the White House that still refer to "hits" as though they mean something. A hit means nothing, it's a completed user session that's important. This study overall means nothing.

  1. Wingsy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-14-05

    Since there are more small Android phones out there than there are iPhones, this survey doesn't really say anything about iPhone vs Android use. If you lump all the small screen phones into one category then you have skewed the result to imply that large Androids consume more data than iPhones. I'd like to see Large Android Phone Usage vs iPhone. The percentages would be the other way around.

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