Apple users have been the ‘hungriest’ consumers of mobile data in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 data measured by the study (iPhone 4, iPhone 4s and iPhone 5 respectively). Last year, the report indicated a possible end to this dominance as Galaxy S III users closed the gap. But iPhone 5s usage is the most intense witnessed to date, keeping Apple users at the top of the chart.
The study found that iPhone 5s users demand seven times as much data as the benchmark iPhone 3G users in developed markets (20 percent increase on iPhone 5) and 20 times as much data in developing markets (50 percent increase on iPhone 5). Beyond the 5s, Apple products account for six of the top ten ‘hungriest handsets’, along with two Samsung products, one HTC and one Sony.
When it came to uplink data, Samsung users are at the top of the chart. Galaxy S4 users produced and uploaded five times as much data as iPhone 3G users in developed markets and 11 times as much data in developing markets.
“Each new generation of iPhone has resulted in increases in data consumption of between 20-40 percent - even today when data use is common. Though interestingly, users of the more economically-priced iPhone 5c consume data in the range between that of the iPhone 4s and 5 users,” said Flanagan.
Not surprisingly, it was also found that 4G LTE users are using 10x more data than 3G users. The iPhone 5 and 5s are the only LTE capable iPhones, while the iPhone 4s and below support 3G networks.
Two years ago, the study started to track the impact of the most excessive ‘data hogs’ on mobile networks. 2011 data found that 1 percent of 3G users consumed half of the entire downlink data. 2012 data showed that 1 percent of 3G users still consumed about half of the data, even as some of the ‘data hogs’ moved to 4G/LTE.
This year, the research reveals 0.1 percent of 4G users consume more than half of the entire LTE downlink data. As such, 4G users are 10 times more data hungry than 3G users, of whom 1 percent still consume half of the 3G downlink data.
“The faster the speeds that mobile operators provide, the more consumers swallow it up and demand more,” continued Flanagan. “One would expect a honeymoon period in which early adopters test their toys. But for 4G users to consistently exhibit behaviour 10 times more extreme than 3G users well after launch constitutes a seismic shift in the data landscape. This has important ramifications for future network designs.”