I don't watch TV very much but I recently caught a quick "you'll be surprised to know this" item on the news on TV where the announcer told us that an iPhone uses about 20 percent more power than the family fridge. I found this a bit hard to swallow so I decided to look into it further on the Web—as one does these days—and was surprised at what I found.
I found the item that the announcer was probably paraphrasing on the TV. In this item the thinking is that the combined cost the power for charging the phone, power for in-house wireless (which has to be left permanently on), powering the network for data transfers, power for the telecom's 3G/4G tower for voice and data, etc., ends up coming to about 20 percent more power than the family fridge consumes.
This kind of sounds like it could be true.
Following on from this, if a smartphone uses 20 percent more power than a fridge then this must also be true of tablet computers. I know that in my house our tablets get far more use on-line than do our smartphones. Tablets also have higher capacity batteries thereby requiring more charging time. When you think about it, if smartphones consume 20 percent more power than a fridge then surely tablets use something like 40 percent more.
Then, on top of this, in this house there are three tablets and four smartphones being charged and used; so that works out to 7.0 mobile devices compared to 2.5 fridges.
So my bottom line finding is that it is "highly likely" that more power is being used worldwide to power mobile devices and the direct services required to make them useful than is required to power all the domestic refrigerators in the world.