Why You Want to Travel Abroad With a Smartphone, Not an iPad

If you’re an AT&T customer looking to take a trip outside the U.S., would you take along a smartphone or an iPad 3G model for your Internet activities? On the face of it, price doesn’t seem to be a determining factor — international data plans cost the same as what AT&T charges for 3G smartphones while abroad. It’s more likely a question of which device will gobble up more bandwidth — if so, plan to leave the iPad 3G at home.

Bytemobile recently tested the Apple iPad to see how its data consumption compares to that of the iPhone. The same web and software activities were run on both devices and overall, the iPad used 2.5 times more data than the iPhone. The USA Today application offered the most striking difference during Bytemobile’s tests — using the software to read news on the iPad required 6.3 times more data throughput, likely due to higher-resolution pictures and other multimedia supplements, which provide a more immersive experience.

Of course, such an experience is the primary benefit of the iPad with its touch-friendly interface and 9.7-inch display. Indeed, when here at home, I opt to use my iPad in lieu of my smartphone because the experience is so much better. And with no difference for international data plans between smartphones and iPads, traveling consumers could find themselves topping off the data plan on the more enjoyable iPad and then wondering why half an hour’s worth of of YouTube videos cost them $200 to watch.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

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