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

by: Andrew GrushMarch 26, 2013


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?

  • I don’t get how a bigger screen = more data?
    Like if I used my Nexus 4 now and then for a month switch to a Note 2, I can’t see how I would download more data if I used them the same…

    • chris

      I think they mean the bigger the screen the more visual view you have to enjoy content therefore it would be used more for entertainment purposes than a smaller device..

    • Magneira

      Yeah this make no sense, i think what they are trying to say is, more pixels = more data, maybe that would make sense…

    • Benny Chau

      Obviously because you haven’t tried that scenario. I have, and I am using more data, even from S3 to Note 2, simply because I am using less desktop/laptop for news and browsing. That’s not hard to understand.

  • RarestName

    I’ve used up 10GB+ of 3G data on my 4S before :/

  • asffajdhd

    the reason for this is bc the top android devices have big screens. Anyways on another note, whats the deal with the super enlarged gs4, that honestly makes it look really bad, so Andrew’s a gs4 hater maybe?

    • NicholasMicallef

      yeah, GS4 is pretty much equal to GSIII in terms of size (slightly smaller actually)

    • icyrock1

      From a quick look, I thought it was the Note II for at first. Huh, that does seem odd.

  • olbp


    Doesn’t hold for me, at least. On my Note 2 I managed to get to 2GB the first month, downloading apps, etc.

    After that, I seldom get above 1/2 GB. Don’t download much but books, any more.

    I suspect that there are a lot of movie watchers who don’t have much else to do.



    dont matter to me im on sprint unlimited data

  • BS! This study funded by the folks with size envy at Apple.

  • AndroidBrian

    This seems like a bs way for carriers to claim your using more data. It looks like future plans will all be unlimited mins and txts, and Data will be the primary charge and deciding factor of how much your plan will cost monthly. T-mobile is already doing it that way.