Apple's Siri 'doubles' iPhone 4S data usage

Apple's Siri 'doubles' iPhone 4S data usage

Summary: iPhone 4S users are using almost twice as much data than its predecessors, according to a study. Apple's Siri is thought to be driving up the data usage, but it's not unique to the iPhone.


According to a new study, iPhone 4S users are using nearly twice as much data than they were using an older iPhone 4.

One of the main causes is thought to be Apple's new intelligent assistant, Siri, which uses voice to request queries from the web, set appointments, and seek out the latest weather report. It can also be used to ask daft questions.

Siri was launched with the iPhone 4S in October last year, and was billed as one of the flagship features to the latest Apple smartphone. The assistant requires either Wi-Fi or a 3G connection to work, as the translated voice text is sent to Apple's servers for processing.

Bloomberg spoke to Arieso's chief technology officer Michael Flanagan in London. "Voice is the ultimate human interface", he said, speaking about voice-assistance breakthroughs like Siri.

But the iPhone 4S is not alone, and certainly not unique to this data-gobbling problem.

The report also highlighted the Google Nexus One as one of the biggest uploaders, followed by the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10i, and HTC Desire owners.

Arieso said it measured over 1 million subscribers across one European network in both urban and rural areas, but did not identify the network operator.

A different study conducted by Ars Technica discovered that Siri's data usage is more efficient based on the type of query considered, and the amount of voice data it is given in the first place.

Outside the realms of Siri, increased mobile social networking, email usage and browsing is driving up users' data traffic. It's no secret that we as a society are consuming far more data than ever before, with faster 4G networks and higher data caps.

The research said that a minority of users account for half of downloaded data. "The hungry are getting hungrier", Flanagan said.

BlackBerry smartphones use data compression technology to increase network efficiency, and cut down on exceeding data plans. Research in Motion says that users can browse twice as long than an iPhone 3GS using the same amount of data, and use four-times more email data.

But Apple does not use such technology without third-party applications.

Perhaps iPhone 4S users should be given a 'Siri data plan', specifically to mitigate such data plan excesses? Having said that, the networks relish the day you go over your limit, so they can charge you an arm, a leg, and your first born child as payment in return, as I once discovered.

Image source: CBS News.


Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Networking, Smartphones

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Apple's Siri 'doubles' iPhone 4S data usage

    Just think how much more data you would use if siri worked more that 1/2 the time.
    • RE: Apple's Siri 'doubles' iPhone 4S data usage

      @Donn_z -- I agree. Siri's performance is sketchy at best. Also, some of the design decisions made on it have proven to be flawed in the real world. For instance, if I say "Call John Smith", I should never hear "i'm sorry, but I cannot complete requests at this time" from Siri ever -- my iPhone 4 did this just fine. Process the speech on the phone.
      • RE: Apple's Siri 'doubles' iPhone 4S data usage

        @joe@... Excellent CES new product article
  • People like a gimmick

    For me Siri is just another gimmick ment to woo customers. We have become such a lazy society that not only do we need a smart phone to do mundane tasks. But now we need a voice to tell us because we don't want to do the work ourselves. I had to LOL about a story my wife told me. She was visiting friends in Chicago and they wanted pizza. They said they better call ahead. Now mind you, my wife is not a tech savy person. If she could have the Jitter Bug phone she would. So it turns out all of her friends had smart phones (iPhones to be specific) and none had a signal. Guess who had to order a pizza on her dumb phone because it was the only phone with a signal?
    I think the point I am making is that their is more to a function of a phone then what we consider when buying one. Siri does not make a great phone. It only makes people buy the phones with Siri on them.
    • RE: Apple's Siri 'doubles' iPhone 4S data usage

      @jscott418 You know exactly what point you were trying to make, trying to imply iPhones suck because they can't get a signal but of course no detains to make your story sound anything more that just a fictional story. Of course there will be times depending on carrier where some phones won't have signal while other do, has happened to me both ways.
  • RE: Apple's Siri 'doubles' iPhone 4S data usage

    Did anyone sense check this story, before Blogging from the hip ?<br><br>It is a complete load of nonsense.<br><br>The real story will be iPhone 4S with IOS5, iCloud as standard, use more data than Many on iOS4 still.<br><br>This is such a load of unsubstantiated nonsense, Zack Whittaker should be ashamed to be peddling it.<br><br>Thankfully mine is on a contract from the UK's '3' on an "All You Can Eat" Data plan, so no overage charges. Ever. Even with occasional HotSpot usage.
  • Your blog title is irresponsible

    How can you start with a blog post title of, "Apple???s Siri ???doubles??? iPhone 4S data usage" and follow up with the statement, "One of the main causes is THOUGHT to be Apple???s new intelligent assistant, Siri"?

    It's not that difficult to attract Apple-haters so you need not resort to sensationalistic unsubstantiated titles to your posts.

    Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist
    Steve Romero
    • RE: Apple's Siri 'doubles' iPhone 4S data usage

      @Steve Romero Unfortunately, it's just another click bait story to rally the Ihaters club members. Some people, just need to get a real life and be happy with the choices they make, or change their choices so they can be happy..

      use what works for you the best...
  • RE: Apple's Siri 'doubles' iPhone 4S data usage

    So what is the actual data amount that average iPhone 4S users consumed? This could be a useful article to consumers in helping them decide how large of a data plan to buy if you provided that extra bit of information. Surely you have it, if you can say that usage doubles. Please update the article with average monthly usage numbers so we can make better purchase decisions. Thanks.