iPhone 5s users consume unprecedented data levels; large screen smartphones drive heavy data use

“According to a large-scale survey of mobile data consumption in 2013 conducted by JDSU,” Natasha Lomas reports for TechCrunch, “the most data thirsty phone users of all have an iPhone 5s burning a hole in their pocket. As with the 2012 study, the 2013 survey examined the data demands of more than one million subscribers using more than 150 different devices over a single, 24-hour weekday in a Tier-1 European market, which had a mixture of urban and suburban morphologies. But for the first time the survey also studied a developing market for comparative purposes — with a further one million+ subscribers studied in this market over the same 24-hour period.”

“Continuing the trend of the past three years’ findings, the 2013 study found that mobile subscribers using Apple’s flagship smartphone are the most data-hungry smartphone users of all. And they’re getting hungrier still: users of the new iPhone 5s are even more data-hungry than previous top-of-the-line iPhone owners — with the study describing them as the most voracious smartphone users it’s yet seen, with ‘unprecedented increases in uplink and downlink data demands,'” Lomas reports. “According to the findings, iPhone 5s users demand 7x as much data as iPhone 3G users in developed markets (the study uses the iPhone 3G as its mid-range benchmark device), and 20x as much data in developing markets. The most data-demanding device in 2013 was the iPhone 5 — but iPhone 5s users are demanding a fifth (20%) more data than iPhone 5 users in developed markets, and 50% more data in developing markets.”

“Another characteristic of mobile data consumption detailed by the study applies to the hungriest 1% of all subscribers. The report notes that these users consume more than half of the downlink data volume — which it describes as ‘broadly consistent’ with the trends reported over the past two years in developed markets,” Lomas reports. “However the device-types these hungriest of data-hungry mobile users are conducting their bandwidth hogging activities on has seen a bit of a shift. The report notes that in the developed market being analysed, smartphones now constitute the majority of ‘extreme devices,’ taking a 63% fraction vs 40% in 2012′s study. While tablet device usage among this group has experienced the largest relative decline, dropping from 6% in 2012 to 2% in 2013.”

“It’s possible this is a consequence of smartphones getting bigger and thus more tablet-esque — aka the rise of the phablet — allowing extreme users to choose a compromise device,” Lomas reports. “Bigger smartphones, after all, often more screen real-estate for performing data-consuming activities. And, unlike tablets, these gizmos are merely a handy pocket away from users’ fingertips.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: When Apple finally extracts their collective head from their collective ass and ships iPhone models with larger screens, they’ll do more damage to slavish copier Samsung than all of their endless, plodding patent infringement cases combined.

We believe that Apple became infatuated with the fact that only they could produce small, thin smartphones with an efficient OS that could work with the small batteries that these compact iPhones housed. “Nobody else can do such things.” Meanwhile, battery-hogging Android leeches like Samsung slapped larger screens on their phones to hide the fact that they needed significantly larger batteries in order to run for even a few hours (Android phones are notorious for running out of charge).

Far too many otherwise intelligent consumers saw little or nothing of Apple’s considerable engineering superiority (the iPhone 5s is simply the best smartphone anyone has ever produced), these otherwise intelligent consumers only saw iPhone’s smaller screens. They didn’t see Android’s inefficiency or inferior ecosystem, they only saw phones with larger screens.

If we’ve heard from one person who went with an Android phone for a larger screen who in fact really wanted an iPhone – “I’d have gotten an iPhone if only they had a larger screen” – we’ve heard it from a thousand. These are top tier, cream-of-the-crop customers (i.e. Apple’s target demographic), not low information cheapskates. They want to be Apple customers and participate heavily in Apple’s ecosystems, but, for a few years now, Apple has been blowing these sales by failing to deliver the product these high value customers desired. It’s inexplicable; any downsides (fragmentation, inventory management, etc.) are vastly outweighed by the vast sales potential to those who should be Apple customers, but are now carrying a plastic piece of crap from Samsung.

Bottom line: Apple screwed the pooch on this one. Shit or get off the pot, Tim.

MacDailyNews iPhone screen size poll
Source: MacDailyNews

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. You bring up an interesting point, MDN. If Droidy phone makers needed those huge batteries just to match Apple’s battery life numbers, imagine what Apple will do with that same battery in the iPhone 6/iPhone Plus. It might not only give us a bigger screen but also prove the answer to us having iPhones that can last longer than a day.

    I quiver with anticipation.

  2. I have a work-issued iPhone 5. I would never be without an iOS device, I use it for connecting to my iTunes Cloud music, and I actually like the iTunes podcasting app, maybe I’m in the minority for that one.

    It allows me to experiment with my “personal” phone, a low-cost contract-free T-Mo 30 dollar account. I’m not a blindly loyal Apple fan, I like to try everything out. I’ve had a Galaxy Note – too big, Windows Phone – okay but just really App poor, and now a Nexus 5. It works well, and I think it’s the ideal size for me, just my opinion.

  3. MDN’s comment is bullshit. Apple needs to make phablet in the same way Apple needed to make a netbook. I am surrounded by people with iPhones inside and outside work and I have never once heard anyone say about their iPhone “I wish this was tablet sized”.

    1. Of all those people you are surrounded with using their iPhones, did you ever ask them, “IF the iPhone screen was 4.5 to 5 inches, would you be up for that?” How many would say, nah, happy with what I have. Please go forth and ask that question and report back your results. I’m sure a few of us here would be interested. Thanks.

    2. Hyperbolic much? Who said anything about tablet sized? Nobody’s asking for a 7 inch iPhone.

      Let Apple release a 4.3-4.9 inch iPhone, put one in the hands of those you’re surrounded with for a month and see how many long for the days of their old 4 inch screens. I’d wager you’ll have very few takers.

  4. I have to say… I am forced to agree with MDN’s take. I personally think the iPhone 5 is still OK, thin fonts in iOS 7 and all… but I think in a few years time, I’m also going to go the “I wish Apple made a larger screen iPhone” route as my eyesight goes…

    I have a friend who is an iPhone user. He needs to upgrade (from iPhone 3GS). He NEEDS a larger screen phone because of failing eyesight (and iOS 7 is NO help in this respect). He saw his wife’s large screen Android phone. Used it for a few days… game over. He’s now using a Lenovo Android phone. Why? Because it has a larger screen. He’s complaining that things aren’t as easy to use as on the iPhone… but he’s putting up with it mainly because of the larger screen.

    So MDN’s take is completely accurate. And of course, if Apple chooses to make a larger screen iPhone, then it will (like the iPad) make iPhones with 2 screen sizes: the current size and a larger screen size. So everyone’s happy. Those who decry larger screen iPhones can happily keep on buying the smaller screened one. Folks like my friend (and BLN) will happily buy the larger screen version. Everyone’s happy (except for Samsung. Ha.)

  5. “PLUNK!” Hear that MDN? I think Tim’s done on the pot. Pass the Charmin. It’s gonna be a big screen in 2014… iPhone year!

    Hey, I got just as much hair brain right to guess as any analysts.

  6. Apple will do what it takes to take the market, iPhone, iPad, iPhablet, whatever.

    Apple expands its family over time and we already have 3 sizes of tablets to match different uses/users, so why is the iPhablet discussion even worthy of screen space?

  7. MDN’s take is quite interesting. When I saw my first all in one Mac I nearly laughed. Up until then I had been working on those great IBM machines and the debate of the day was whether or not amber or orange colored monitors were better.

    As I looked at this tiny insignificant screen that my friend was enthusiastically showing me I wondered what the fuss was all about.

    Then he turned it on and in just a few minutes I knew that this is where the future of computing was going to be.

    Beauty is only screen deep. The real beauty lies beyond the screen and how it is presented.

    Still for years I’ve heard “Mac screens are too small, black and white, not color” but I’ve never ever once heard that the quality of the image they project was sub par to anyone.

  8. I am assuming different MDN writers have varying opinions but I feel like I’m reading from a bipolar website sometimes. In one MDN take Tim Cook is given a lot of credit for releasing great products in another he is vilified for not releasing a large screen iPhone. I’ve got to say, this last take sounds a lot like the “analysts” that say Apple “must” do this or that. YKBAID if they don’t. 🙂

    1. Today, yeah I have to agree with you.

      Concept: Just toss all the phone tech into an iPad Mini. Tada!

      I personally don’t want any big-ass-phone. But I do have big hands and can still do ~5″ phone with one hand, which is what is required for ANY phone. I will NEVER comprehend two-handed phones. Just torture yourself and call yourself a masochist, Phat Phablet Phanatics®™♪

  9. And, unlike tablets, these gizmos are merely a handy pocket away from users’ fingertips.

    A really BIG pocket. Fashion trend!
    Here’s a really BIG pocket for the iPad:

    Captain Kangaroo pockets are back in vogue. (0_o) It’s Phabulous!

  10. Hey, MDN, where were last year when you posted about Tim Cook commenting on 5-inch phones? There was no take at all.

    Tim Cook on 5-inch iPhone: Apple won’t make compromised phones like Android makers

    You slam the settlers for not getting iPhones and then you slam Apple for not settling on selling an inferior product. Apple doesn’t make products for every living person. You’ve defended them for being selective. Now, all of a sudden, they must make products for the “Hee Haw” demographic.

    Those people were never going to buy an iPhone because iPhones don’t come in those larger sizes.

    They are the same people who wouldn’t buy an iPhone because it didn’t have a physical keyboard or removable battery or run Flash.

    They are the same people who won’t buy a Mac because it’s too expensive.

    They are the same people wouldn’t buy iPods because they couldn’t add Flash storage.

    Shall I continue?

    1. I pretty much own every significant piece of a Apple tech. However, if it wasn’t for the fact that work supplied me with an iPhone 5 I would not own it. I am one of “those” who will not buy the iPhone without a significantly larger screen. I am not one of “those” people who just use the screen size as an excuse as why I won’t buy one. I know I am not the only one out there and screen size is one of the last things left that Android legitimately has over iOS. Everybody cried going to 4″ from 3.5″. Would you really want to go back to the smaller iPhone? It’ll be the same thing when Apple increases the screen size again.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.