Feb. 4, 2013 at 2:22 PM ET
A poll of mobile users found that iPhone owners were much more likely to be paying higher bills — but it's not quite the money pit you'd expect, and Android owners are close on their heels.
Consumer Intelligence Research Partners asked consumers to report their mobile OS and how much they paid per month on their bills; the breakdown reveals that iOS users tend to be paying more on average. There were about 3 percent more iOS-running subscribers at all the premium price points: $50 to $100, $101 to $200, and more than $200.
The iPhone has always commanded a premium — in upfront price, in subsidies by the carriers, and in high-end data plans. The process is this: An iPhone would cost $600 or more to sell with no subsidy to consumers, so carriers cover part of that cost, then make it up by locking subscribers into two-year agreements on expensive plans.
Smartphone plans themselves have also gotten more expensive over the years as the cost of subsidies creeped up, and new features like unlimited data and texting became part of the bargain.
Android has challenged that with lower-cost phones that can be sold without subsidy or otherwise for lower cost — and less for the carriers to make up with expensive plans. This is why Android phones are so much more likely to be paired with prepaid and low-cost plans like those on Virgin Mobile and US Cellular.
There are still plenty of Android users paying a bundle for their plans, though, as indicated by the data. It's also worth mentioning that Android devices have begun to challenge the iPhone in terms of cost and quality, meaning high costs and high carrier bills aren't going the way of the dodo any time soon.
Worth noting is that among these customers, you have three distinct groups: One-phone individuals, people on more expensive multi-person family plans, and prepay customers who pay either month-to-month or buy minutes as they go. There's a big jump in family plan consumers and a big drop in prepay users at the $100 mark, which helps give an idea of how those phone OS numbers further break down.
The poll was conducted online in early January, with the data here coming from 500 respondents (culled from a larger group of 3,211). Some more figures can be found at the All Things D, where the CIRP data was first published.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.