Average Android, iOS smartphone data use across Tier 1 wireless carriers, through January

How much data does the average smartphone user consume?

It's a critical question for both users and the carriers that provide service--and it's a moving target. As users embrace a widening array of high-powered data services, wireless carriers are concurrently working to increase the data speeds available to their subscribers. The result is a situation where users have more services at their fingertips available at faster speeds.

With all this in mind, FierceWireless teamed with NPD Connected Intelligence to publish the results of the firm's SmartMeter surveying software. NPD's SmartMeter software is installed on around 1,500 smartphones (participants are provided "incentives" to install the software on their phones). NPD for around a year has tracked cellular data usage on 1,000 Android phones, and several months ago added iPhones to its survey base. NPD in December increased its iPhone survey base to 500 devices, which NPD said is its full panel size.

Also, NPD said it "normalized" its previous iPhone figures, which were derived from a smaller base, to bring them in line with the numbers the firm is obtaining from its current, 500-member panel size. "Now that the base is at full size, we have averaged the data use in the previous months, taking an average of the current month with the next and previous to provide a more expected use case (so really, this lets us triple the base for those months)," noted NPD's Eddie Hold.

We realize that a sample size of 1,500 smartphones, spread across a number of wireless carriers, is not ideal--more is always better. However, we decided to publish this information to allow you, the reader, to make your own decision on whether it's useful. Feel free to take it or leave it.

The solid lines, below, show average Android smartphone cellular data use (Wi-Fi use is excluded) during the past seven months, broken down by wireless carrier. The dashed lines, below, show iPhone data use (these figures have been normalized).

The raw data (measurements are GB per month):

ANDROID Aug '12 Sep '12 Oct '12 Nov '12 Dec '12 Jan. '13
Verizon Wireless 0.70 0.57 0.50 0.78 0.57 0.76
T-Mobile 1.02 1.09 1.23 1.63 0.92 1.36
Sprint 0.98 0.68 0.76 0.86 1.09 1.12
AT&T 0.91 0.89 0.94 0.86 0.69 0.79


Normalized Apple data Aug '12 Sep '12 Oct '12 Nov '12 Dec '12 Jan. '13
Verizon Wireless     1.78 1.71 1.52 1.19
T-Mobile     0.28 0.57 0.56 0.55
Sprint     1.32 1.37 1.43 1.10
AT&T     1.09 1.31 1.14 1.11

Let us know what you think in the comments!

Average Android, iOS smartphone data use across Tier 1 wireless carriers, through January