Talking tech since 2003

The trend in mobile devices for the last few years has been to try and make smartphones bigger and bigger. The rise of the ‘phablet’ category is proof enough of that, as are the rumors regarding Apple working on a bigger, curvier iPhone. Interestingly, there’s more evidence that “bigger is better” that doesn’t simply apply to handset manufacturers. A new report from the NPD Group, one of the world’s most-cited sales tracking firms, says that users who own phones with screens 4.5 inches and greater have a higher rate of Wi-Fi and data consumption than those who have devices measuring less than 4.5 inches.

The correlation between larger phones and greater data usage would seem to point to a higher rate of engagement. The report says that “most of this data consumption on larger phones is coming from greater usage of social media, navigation, video, retail, and music apps. Facebook, Google Maps, YouTube, Amazon (retail), and Pandora Radio are the apps most used among consumers with larger phones.”

But of course, that raises a bit of a question: are people with larger phones using more data because of a higher engagement with a bigger screen? Or are the people who buy larger devices already predisposed to using more data? Often bigger-screened devices are a bit more expensive, and as such, folks who put the most value on mobile engagement would be more willing to part with more cash for the bigger screen. So which came first? The big screen or the interest in using more data?

There’s no clear answer, but the trends speak for themselves in terms of where OEMs and consumers are focused. It’s interesting to see where mobile trends are heading—especially considering where they were going before the iPhone’s beautiful interactive screen changed everyone’s priorities. For a while the trend in phones was to make them smaller and smaller, to the point of absurdity. Remember when this was a joke that actually had a basis in reality?

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