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iPhone users rely on Wi-Fi more than Android users

According to a new ComScore study, iPhone users in the U.S. and U.K. tend to do more data-related tasks over Wi-Fi than those on Google's Android platform.

Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Besides basic divisions in hardware and software, there are some major differences in the way iPhone and Android platform smartphone users ingest data, a new study says.

According to market research firm ComScore, iPhone owners in both the U.S. and the U.K. consumed more of their data over Wi-Fi and their carrier's wireless signal than smartphone users on Google's Android platform during the month of February.

As part of its Device Essentials study released today, ComScore said that 71 percent the U.S. users on iPhones use both cellular and Wi-Fi networks, versus 32 percent of Android users who used both as a means of connection. That left another 29 and 68 percent of users on iPhones and Android devices (respectively) that the firm says only connected to the Internet through their carrier's network.

Chart: Mobile and Wi-Fi Internet Connection Activity Across iOS and Android Smartphone Platforms in the U.S. and U.K. (Feb-2012)Description: A U.S. analysis of Wi-Fi and mobile Internet usage across unique smartphones on the iOS and Android platforms reveals that 71 percent of all unique iPhones used both mobile and Wi-Fi networks to connect to the Internet, while only 32 percent of unique Android mobile phones used both types of connections. A further analysis of this pattern of behavior in the U.K. shows consistent results, as 87 percent of unique iPhones used both mobile and Wi-Fi networks for web access compared to a lower 57 percent of Android phones.Source: comScore Device Essentials, February 2012Tags: 3G, Wi-FiAuthor: comScorecharts powered by iCharts

In the U.K, ComScore found considerably stronger Wi-Fi saturation among those it polled. That amounted to 87 percent of iPhone users using both cellular and Wi-Fi networks, versus 57 percent of those on Android. And before cracking jokes about iPhone users not ever leaving the house, ComScore says a mix of business and high-speed wireless infrastructure has led to those differences -- at least in the U.K.:

"In the U.K., the scarcity of unlimited data plans and higher incidence of smartphone pre-paid contracts with a pay-as-you-go data model likely contributes to data offloading among users wanting to economize their mobile usage," Serge Matta, comScore's president of operator and mobile solutions said in a statement. "In addition, the current lack of high-speed data networks in the U.K. might also lead users to seek out higher bandwidth capacity on Wi-Fi networks."

By comparison, Matta said that the U.S. offered "increased availability" of high-speed data networks, including 4G LTE, rendering Wi-Fi less important.

To break down this behavior by carrier, ComScore said that the largest contingent of smartphone owners to connect to both Wi-Fi and cellular networks in the U.S. were those on AT&T's network followed by Verizon and T-Mobile. In the U.K. it's led by Vodafone and trailed by Orange and Telefonica.