Broadband guide

How much mobile phone data do I need?

How much mobile phone data do I need?
Mark Whelan

Mark Whelan

Staff Writer

With an increasing number of people relying on mobile phones for everything from directions to photography to entertainment, it's important to know how much data to purchase with a mobile phone plan. The amount of mobile data a user should buy depends on his/her usage levels of features such as video streaming, web browsing and music downloading.

What is mobile data?

Mobile data is information transmitted to and from a mobile phone via the internet. Unless a user is only making phone calls and sending text messages with their phone, data is being consumed.

While the advantages of being connected to the internet around the clock are obvious, it's important to know just how much data you're using in order avoid overpaying on your mobile phone bills.

How is mobile data consumed?

Your data consumption is based on how you use your phone. For instance, if you stream one hour of video a day, it can add up to 3.5GB every month, and if you use a 4G connection, the same amount of video can eat a whopping 5.1GB.

To give you an idea of just how data-hungry video is, for the same 3.5GB of data you can send 10 emails, view 20 pictures, update your Facebook and Twitter accounts 10 times, browse online for 5 hours and stream 2 hours of music...every day!

Here’s a quick list of what's using up your mobile data allowance

  • Sending 1 email: 20KB
  • 1 Social media update (with photo): 350KB
  • Instant messaging for 1hour: 1MB
  • 1 hour of web browsing: 10MB
  • Streaming 1 hour of music: 28MB
  • Downloading one app: 40MB
  • Streaming 1hour of video: 117MB

Top tips for reducing your mobile data usage:

  • Connect to Wi-Fi where ever possible
  • Turn off push notifications on apps from which you don't need real-time updates
  • Use an app to keep track of your data usage; there are a wide variety of these available now
  • If you listen to music on the go, some streaming apps have an offline mode so you can listen to cached music without having to be connected to the Internet
  • Close apps fully when you’re not using them - this will stop them from using data in the background and will save your battery
  • Use ad-free apps where possible - not only will this get rid of tedious ads but it will conserve your data as well
  • Reduce the quality of the video you are watching
  • Turn off the autoplay video function on social media sites
  • If you use Google maps regularly try saving frequent used ones to your offline folder or take screen shots
  • Use mobile versions of websites where possible, these are simpler websites and generally use less data
  • If your apps or games have an offline mode switch to this were possible
  • Turn automatic update off for apps, this will give you the choice to update when you are connected to Wi-Fi

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