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The iPhone 4S gulps twice as much data as iPhone 4

Apple’s iPhone 4S (s aapl) is data-hungry, according to a new study released Friday by mobile network monitoring firm Arieso. In fact, it found Apple’s newest iPhone consumes twice as much data as the iPhone 4, and three times as much as the iPhone 3G, which the company used as a baseline.

The iPhone 4S has the highest downlink data volumes of any phone measured in Arieso’s study, which covers over 1 million subsribers on a single European network, and comes in just shy of the Android-powered HTC Desire S when it comes to uplink volume. Data consumption isn’t evenly distributed among users, however; Arieso reveals 1 percent of mobile subscribers now account for half of all downloaded data; in other words, power users are pushing those consumption numbers sky high.

What accounts for the change? Bloomberg cites Siri as a culprit, quoting Arieso’s CTO Michael Flanigan as saying, “Voice is the ultimate human interface.” A recent study conducted by Ars Technica, however, finds Siri shouldn’t add that much data usage to a user’s monthly total, even with very frequent use.

The iPhone 4S may have been among the top data consumers, but it wasn’t alone. Many Android(s GOOG) devices also ranked as much more data-hungry than their predecessors. In that light, Siri alone isn’t a logical culprit for the iPhone 4S’s data gulping; instead, better mobile network infrastructure, more apps with higher data demands (and consumers becoming more comfortable using them) as well as higher-resolution (and therefore larger) image and video being shared to and from mobile devices probably accounts for most of the increase.

For consumers, this could mean there’s a need for increased vigilance in light of mobile network data caps, and for mobile providers, it means scaling quickly to deal with increased demand, whether through Wi-Fi offloading or building ever-more resilient networks.

11 Responses to “The iPhone 4S gulps twice as much data as iPhone 4”

  1. windows7phone

    The iPhone looks beautiful and iOS is beautiful…if you like the fixed aesthetic from the vision of Apple. Personally, I love it on an iPad and am indifferent on the iPhone,Claw Digital Reviewthe development of iPhone initiated, also came to the view an industry known as iPhone application development. And, for this reason, these who ended up fond of software development were actually at gain.

  2. Walt French

    Phones don’t use data, people do. (Sorry; I dislike that NRA campaign but it is oh-so-true here.)

    People who need to get a revised presentation while they’re driving between Cleveland and their customer. People who have taken a bunch of photos of the new building site and need their co-workers to see them.

    These people PAY for data and in fact the heaviest users are probably the ones worst impacted by limited capacity by the carriers. In an ideal world, the carriers would have to rebate to users when they sold something they couldn’t deliver, just as airlines have to pay you if the over-sell seats.

    This article is much better than most in identifying that the “Siri” claim is utterly bogus, but go the extra step and finger the guys who are actually causing the problem.

  3. asdfghjkl1

    Isn’t this because of iCloud? I download from my iPad, and it’s downloaded to my iPhone 4S automatically? Previously, I had to sync it through iTunes, so wouldn’t that double the data I use?

  4. The truth is after a year they should re do this survey and let us know the results. After a few months of the release date is hardly fair, people will use the phone a lot more in the first few months, downloading and trying new apps and generally spending more time than they will after they have had it over a year.

  5. I know a guy who works at an AT&T NOC who once told me that the iPhone uses data in a strange way, and that it consumed more in the process. I never got the full story, so take this as an unsubstantiated Internet rumor. He did claim this is why AT&T doesn’t offer pre-paid 3G cards to unlocked iPhones. Any chance something similar is at play here?

    • Proof that AT&T is completely clueless?

      The iPhone works just fine with pre-paid cards. As can be seen almost everywhere around the world where carriers offer pre-paid cards with data regardless of phone model. AT&T doesn’t offer them because they need everyone to use the subsidized / subscription plans which cost about 2x of what an iPhone (unlocked) + normal service fees would cost.

      The one thing that you have to consider is that an iPhone is always connected to the network – so minute based prepaid cards wouldn’t work. But data based ones are no problem, it’s pretty hard to for example exceed 1GB of data / month unless you use the phone for tethering.

  6. philw123

    Isn’t this more down to iOS 5 than the any physical differences between the iPhone4 and iPhone4S? Interesting that it cites Siri as a cause, presumably Siri only eats data when it’s being used, in which case, the comparison is a little unfair.

  7. What if all this isn’t related to the model of the phone, but instead a direct result of the point that 1% of the users use 50% of the data. That sounds very much like an 80/20 Pareto distribution. 80% of your peas come from 20% of your pods and 20% of the people hold 80% of the wealth. Applying this logic one could argue that iPhone 4S users are early adaptors, certainly the powerusers are. So these powerusers would have moved from 3S to 4 the day it came out and now have done the same with the move to 4S. And so on day one of the 4S release, 50% of the Iphone4 traffic would go away and move to the 4S. After a few months, with a smaller pool of 4S users than Iphone 4 users the numbers would show a higher average usage for the 4S than for the 4.

    It doesn’t seem like there is anything unnatural to these numbers and it doesn’t seem related to the device as such, it is just the people that use the device are different. Good PR stunt though.

    • I think u were spot on in ft inning the reason.
      Early adopters n the tech savy uses the Max data and they would be using 4s or galaxy S2 or nexus now.

      It’s hard to believe that 4s will consume more data than 4 to show the same webpage

      And siri data usage will be more in lines of an im app and can’t be a data hog