No wonder AT&T is having trouble keeping up with the data demands of iPhone users. Consumers using iPhones suck up almost twice as much data on their Apple devices as owners of most other smart phones. And a small minority of iFanatics are true data hogs, uploading and downloading up to three or more times data than the average iPhone owner. That’s according to exclusive new research conducted for Consumer Reports by Validas, a company that provides Web-based wireless bill analysis and optimization services to consumers and businesses at MyValidas.com and FixMyCellBill.com.
On average, iPhone users consume 273 MBs of data per month. That compares with 54 MBs for consumer users of Blackberrys and 150 MBs for consumers who use other brands of smart phones, the Validas study found.
Another 12 percent of iPhone users use at least 500 MBs per month with their crush of emails, Web surfing, and other activity related to the device’s more than 100,000 available software applications. And about a third of those data junkies use more than 1 GB of data. (See chart below.)
Ordinarily, exact numbers on iPhone data usage would be AT&T proprietary information, and that carrier rebuffed our request for specifics. “For competitive reasons, we do not disclose the usage of our iPhone customers,” said Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman. So we asked Validas, which has independent access to such information from its 100,000 customers per month, who are also customers of AT&T and other carriers and upload their electronic bills for analysis and cost-cutting recommendations.
Also, the data usage pattern among iPhone owners is unique when compared to other types of cell phones. More than 80 percent of non-business Blackberry users eat up less than 50 MB of data per month. Most users of other non-iPhone, non-Blackberry smart phones, 54 percent, similarly consume less than 50 MB of data each month. But fewer than 20 percent of iPhone owners are so frugal with their data consumption. (See chart above.)
The Validas’ data usage figures are all the more startling because they include only consumer users and exclude business accounts and folks who “tether,” or use their cell phone like a modem. Such usage, which can send data usage into the stratosphere, is difficult to do with an AT&T iPhone but is possible with many other smart phones.
Validas analyzed data usage on nearly 14,000 individual consumer wireless cell phone lines, including 757 iPhone and 783 Blackberry lines.
As we previously reported, iStress may have also contributed to making AT&T a service satisfaction cellar dweller in our latest annual overall carrier Ratings and city-by-city carrier Ratings. I’ll report more about cell phone usage, based on other intriguing Validas analytics, in an upcoming post to both this blog and the ConsumerReports.org Money Blog.—Jeff Blyskal