Study: 3G/4G tablets suck up 3X more data than smartphones

lots of tabletsThis probably won’t shock you, but tablets connected to 3G and 4G networks consume a lot more data than their smartphone equivalents. However, on Tuesday video optimization vendor Bytemobile reported exactly how much: tablets eat up three times more data than smartphones over the cellular network.

Bytemobile, which collects anonymous data from the 130 global carriers that use its optimization products, also found that tablet users tend to have much more involved Internet sessions. In the second quarter, the typical iPad(s aapl) session spanned 33 different Web pages, while on iPhone that number was 20 Web pages. Tablet users also seemed to be more engaged in the sites they did visit, possibly through viewing richer media or more direct interaction with site features. Bytemobile said the typical iPad session consumed 160 percent more data than an iPhone session.

Again, the conclusions seem obvious, but it’s interesting to see the numbers attached to them. Cisco Systems’(s csco) latest Visual Networking Index report found that the average U.S. smartphone users consumed about 201 MB per month in 2011, while the average tablet consumed 382 MB per month when connected to a 3G or 4G network. Bytemobile’s numbers appear to be high, but then again, Byte is measuring usage nearly six months into 2012, and data usage patterns are changing quickly. According to Cisco, average consumption over all connected devices almost tripled in 2011 alone.

If tablet users are now consuming 600 MB or even 800 MB a month, then they’re not yet bumping into the boundaries of their data plans. That doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t demand for more capacity on a tablet, but it could be a sign that even while tablet customers are increasing their cellular activity, they’re doing so conservatively to avoid hitting their caps.