updated 04:25 pm EST, Wed December 8, 2010
Arieso says Android data use double iPhone
Android users are much more data hungry than their iPhone counterparts, Arieso said in a new study. Using the iPhone 3G as the baseline, Android was often more demanding for traffic in both directions. The Samsung Galaxy S would upload as much as 126 percent more data where an HTC Desire would often download 41 percent more.
The iPhone 4 used more as well, downloading 41 percent more data and getting online both 41 percent more often and 67 percent longer on average. However, it was still relatively miserly compared to the Android phones covered, which also included the Nexus One and the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10.
The Blackberry Bold 9700 was included in the study but didn't have its figures published. BlackBerry phones have usually consumed less, since most BlackBerry Internet Service data is compressed. Gaps between the most economic and most data hungry smartphones could vary as much as 40 percent for downloads and 130 percent for uploads, Arieso said.
CTO Michael Flanagan argued that the discrepancy was due to more aggressive hardware upgrades on Android phones than on the iPhone, focusing most on cameras. Apple releases one phone a year and has regularly centered on the quality of the camera sensor over resolution, only just reaching five megapixels and 720p video in June. HTC, Motorola, Samsung and others either started on similar features earlier or stepped up to eight megapixels, increasing the average file sizes of photos and videos.
Regardless of manufacturer, Arieso helped support beliefs that phone users were much more concerned with data than voice. Voice traffic was roughly flat, but data use has gone up. The feature is now more important on phones than calling.
The data may further salt a wound to AT&T, which placed last in US carrier ranks as part of a Consumer Reports study. It has had trouble coping with 3G demand on its network ever since the iPhone 3G shipped in 2008 and is still having trouble, albeit mitigated, with more efficient iPhone use today. Verizon is still relatively new to the smartphone boom, only having taken off in earnest when it picked up Android in late 2009, but has had an easier time coping with network demand even with more aggressive use on its network.
AT&T has countered that it typically handles about half of the mobile data traffic in the US, but the concentration by city and the relative use per person are also considered important factors.