Smartphones trump tablets

Staff writer
26 Feb 2013

Despite a surge in the market for tablets, smartphone users for the first time took the lead in terms of mobile data usage, according to a report from Arieso.

The study suggests that extreme users are beginning to move to new LTE networks, but there is no let up on existing networks. Out of the top 10 most voracious devices (excluding dongles) six were smartphones, three tablets (which ranked 4th, 8th and 9th) and one a "phablet".

"Once you move away from raw consumption statistics, the most remarkable finding is the way in which people use smartphones and tablets," said Arieso CTO Michael Flanagan.

"We discover that voice-capable phablets - like the Samsung Galaxy Note II - are being used like smartphones, not tablets," Flanagan said. "If you can use it to make a phone call, the phablet won't be much like a tablet at all."

The study last year showed that 1% of users consume 50% of the downlink data on 3G/UMTS networks. This year the hungriest 1% consume 40% as LTE starts to make an impact.

"In many respects, this is great news - LTE networks are doing their job," said Flanagan. "But the consumption levels and patterns of LTE use are very different to what operators could expect from 3G."

However, while LTE introduces much-needed bandwidth and relieves pressure on UMTS networks, operators cannot relax their focus on network planning, optimization and performance.

Of the 125 devices studied, users of the latest iPhone again proved the most voracious data consumers. But for the first time in three years, this dominance is being challenged.

Users of the iPhone 5 demand four times as much data as iPhone 3G users and 50% more than iPhone 4S users, the most demanding in the previous year's study.

However, Samsung Galaxy S III users generate nearly four times the amount of data uploaded than iPhone 3G users, pushing iPhone 5 users into third place on uplink data usage behind the Samsung Galaxy Note II in second place.

In the rapidly growing tablet market, Samsung Tab 2 10.1 users have asserted their dominance - demanding 20% more data than iPad users.

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