Sprint: Android Phones Hog More Data Than the iPhone

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse recently made a few interesting comments about the iPhone on his network. Namely, Hesse noted that Android users put more of a strain on Sprint’s network than new iPhone owners.

Android apps are “more chatty” with the network, and iPhone apps do a better job of handling data via W-Fi networks and offloading information.  Due to the iPhone’s light footprint on Sprint’s network, the carrier plans to continue offering an unlimited data plan for the indefinite future.

CEO Dan Hesse made this comment during a recent earnings call:

“There is a misperception that our launch of the iPhone will increase the load on Sprint’s 3G network and require us to spend more 3G capital. The reverse is true. iPhone users are expected to use significantly less 3G than the typical user of a dual-mode 3G, 4G device. Even adjusting for more total new customers being added to the network, we believe they will put less load on our 3G network than they would have if we did not carry the iPhone.”

Initial complaints from iPhone owners on Sprint’s network suggested that the network’s 3G data speeds were significantly crippled when compared with Verizon and AT&T. Sprint denies that these complaints have anything to do with adding the iPhone to its network.

Sprint recently discontinued its unlimited data plan for all devices, except smartphones like the iPhone. Because the iPhone is so data efficient, Sprint sees Apple’s smartphone as a reason to continue offering all-you-can-eat data for its smartphone customers.


“One of the beauties of carrying the iPhone is it extends the period of time and increases the likelihood of us maintaining unlimited data longer because it uses our network so efficiently,” said Hesse.

Apple imposes stringent rules on developers for how apps ping a 3G network and download data. iOS is incredibly smart at offloading data and switching between Wi-Fi networks when able. Barrons estimates that the iPhone is 50% more efficient than Android at data consumption on Sprint’s network.

Sprint reportedly coughed up $15.5 billion to add the iPhone to its network, and it’s projected to take years before Sprint can even break even on its deal with Apple and the accompanying network maintenance costs.