A new study has compared the data consumption of users of newer smartphones, including the BlackBerry Bold 9700, the Google Nexus One, the HTC Desire, the Sony Ericsson Xperia, and the Apple iPhone 4, against the iPhone 3G as a "normalised benchmark." Network management firm Arieso has highlighted the emergence of a new breed of mobile subscribers in the post-iPhone3G era. The company found that voice calls per subscriber have remained roughly flat, suggesting that these subscribers use their devices first and foremost for data consumption rather than for making phone calls.

The results show that iPhone 4 users are more hungry for data than their iPhone 3G counterparts, making 44 percent more data calls, downloading 41 percent more data to their devices, and spending 67 percent more time connected to the network for data.

Still, they do not even begin to compare to users with Android OS handsets. These are particularly data hungry, scoring higher than both the iPhone 3G and iPhone 4 in terms of data call volumes, time connected to the network, as well as data volume (in kilobits per subscriber) uploaded and downloaded. Android users also score highest in both the "uplink data volume" and the "downlink data" categories. For example, Samsung Galaxy users typically upload 126 percent more data than iPhone 3G users, and HTC Desire users download 41 percent more data than iPhone 3G users.

"Smartphone subscriptions are rising and so too is subscriber appetite for mobile data," Michael Flanagan, CTO of Arieso, said in a statement. "Since the launch of the iPhone3G, we've seen a multitude of popular new smartphones arrive on the market, successfully driving app and service usage. It's a trend that's set to continue. Operators must now be able to quantify the impact of the devices they support, and how subscribers use them, and prepare their networks accordingly."