The bigger its touchscreen, the more tempting it is to use a smartphone for watching movies, as a GPS device, or to check out the latest happenings on social media.
People in the United States with smartphones that have screens 4.5-inches and larger use 44% more data than those tapping away on smaller phones, according to a recent report from the NDP group. The wider-screened devices were used to gobble up an average 7.2 gigabytes a month in data, while smaller phones had closer to 5 gigabytes.
The larger screen real estate might be more inviting for wasting time with Internet-connected apps. The most popular apps for the larger-phone users are Facebook, Google Maps, YouTube, Amazon and Pandora.
People with larger screens use apps more frequently across all the major categories. Social media is the most popular, followed by navigation, video, retail and music. The apps do things people on smaller phones might switch over to tablets or computers for.
Larger smartphones are becoming more common, with some newer models creeping toward small tablet sizes. Last year, 11% of available smartphones sported large screens, but now that number is 28%. At the same time, overall data usage for smartphones has jumped 11%.
Even Apple increased its smartphone screen size with the iPhone 5, and there are constant rumors the company is considering going larger for future phones.
For now, bigger screened devices are still in the minority of phones sold, but if bigger screens do translate to more time spent on phones, it could be a smart business move for hardware manufacturers and wireless carriers to push the costlier devices. More usage means more app usage and potentially inflated wireless bills for people who don’t have unlimited data plans.
The NPD group tracked how 4,500 people used their smartphones during May, June and July of this year for the report. They looked at both Android and iOS users who used their phones on wireless and cellular connections.
For current large-phone owners concerned about overdoing it on data, the best way to keep those bills down is to wait and connect to Wi-Fi instead of the cellular network before doing any heavy streaming.