OpenSignal: The larger your phone display, the more data you consume

March 26, 2013
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A new report from network research firm OpenSignal suggests that for every square inch of screen real-estate, an extra 75MB of data is downloaded over a cellular connection and 288MB more per square each is downloaded through Wi-Fi. In short: size does matter.

This latest data comes to OpenSignal through information it obtained from its Android app. OpenSignal reports a total of 9,962 distinct Android devices were used to come up with the above data consumption results.

“While this may seem like a limitation, the vast fragmentation of Android devices gave us a very broad scope for examining the impact of screen size on user behaviour,” says a rep from OpenSignal. “In order to be included the individual device-user had to have accessed both cellular and Wi-Fi data on the same day. For similar reasons we restricted our data to areas with a high level of Wi-Fi penetration in order to ensure that users had both available to them in order to make a fair comparison.”

Basically, the report shows that when on-the-go, folks use larger-sized Android devices about the same way as they do smaller phones. The real difference is how they use them when they are at home, or at places that offer free Wi-Fi. While this is certainly an interesting correlation, can’t say that it is too surprising.

The bigger the device, the more likely we are to use it as our primary gateway to the Internet. Looking up those cat videos and uploading pictures of your food just isn’t the same on a tiny display. As larger-display phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, HTC One and Galaxy S4 become more commonplace, the more we will see these phones take over for tablets, laptops, desktops and even televisions.

So why didn’t this same massive jump happen for those with bigger-screen phones using cellular data? There are probably several reasons. First, many of us have limited data and are cautious about how much we use. Second, our time is limited when are on the move, meaning most of the things we are looking up are quick bits of information like where a restaurant is located or your current bank account balance.

What do you think of the OpenSignal correlation between screen-size and data usage, does it surprise you?

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