Large Screen Smartphones Use More Mobile Web Data In North America, Samsung Dominates

The Online ad network, Chitika, recently looked at mobile data traffic and has produced a report detailing the growing rise in the numbers of subscribers using what it calls "phablets", and by that word they consider devices with a screen size of 5-inches or higher. The data used to compile current usage share was sampled across Canada and North America from November 6 through to the November 12 this year. As I'll come on to, there are a couple of inconsistencies with this report, but for now I'll talk about the headline, which is that Samsung currently dominates the big screen smartphone browser arena, which in itself is rapidly growing year on year. Chitika's statistics show that more than three quarters of mobile device traffic from devices, firing their criteria are from Samsung products and the top four are the Samsung Galaxy S5 , S4, Note 3 and the Note 2. The LG G2 is next on the list, closely followed by the iPhone 6 Plus, which produced approximately twice the traffic as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. One of the charts above shows the big four networks' share of the Note 4 web browser traffic. Sprint is very much sitting in the third place with AT&T having the greatest traffic.

Web traffic from devices with 5.0-inch or larger screens is showing a sharp increase year on year, up from 7% to 18%. This should not be a surprise: device screen sizes are on the rise and many people will be using a Chitika-classified "phablet" for the first time this year. Except... Chitika's interpretation of what makes a "phablet" doesn't match the change in trends across the industry, although I should point out that we don't have an established definition of the term either. The original "phablets" that spring to my mind are the Dell Streak 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Note. In the case of the Note, it was sold as being much more than a big-screen Android device and the Streak was the device that started my interest in Android. The difference in screen size has narrowed over the years, the Galaxy S2 had a 4.3-inch screen compared with the Note's 5.2-inch, the S3's 4.8-inch compared with the 5.5-inch of the Note 2 and leaping ahead to the S5's 5.1-inch screen, this compares with the Note 4's 5.7-inch screen. I also need to throw into the arena that not all the devices quoted in the statistics have a screen larger than 5.0-inch. Some, like the Nexus 5, have a screen that doesn't even equal 5.0-inch, but it's smaller (0.05-inches smaller, but still). If you're going to quote statistics, make sure they're accurate!

The other inconsistency regards the differences between the Galaxy S5 and S4 web browsing statistics. We recently reported that sales of the Galaxy S5 were some 40% less than expected; Samsung only sold 12 million S5s compared with 16 million S4s. The statistics point towards a higher number of users browsing the web with the S5 compared with the S4. The best explanation that I can think of is that many S4 owners sold on their S4 and bought the S5.

Looking forward, the Google Nexus 6 would fit into this list. It'll be interesting to see the scenario this time next year after the iPhone 6 Plus has disrupted the big screen smartphone market and the Nexus 6 has gained a toe hold. Sony are yet to make so much of an impact in the North American market, but perhaps their Z3 will help here. I expect ongoing growth from the large screen end of the market.

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About the Author

David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.
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