How much mobile data do I need?
If you are new to using a smartphone, in a situation where you need to start using mobile data, or perhaps starting to rely on more mobile data going forward, then how do you know how much you need? This is a guide to help you.
What is mobile Data?
Mobile data is needed for internet usage on a mobile device to work in areas where there is no WiFi. WiFi is a network you would normally connect to at home, at work, in hotels and in some cafe’s and restaurants – often needing password access. It is normally free (most hotels used to charge!).
The mobile data is therefore needed more for access to the internet in places with no WiFi – such as the outdoors! Imagine strolling through a park, along a beach or inside a supermarket. It’s in these places, if you need access to the internet, you will need mobile data.
What uses the Mobile Data?
Whilst people think of the internet as searching Google, or watching video’s on-line, many more day-to-day activities are using the internet. Less than 10 years ago the majority of people would contact each other via a Text Message (SMS) which was normally covered by “Free Texts” as part of your plan. However, modern day see’s most people use instant messaging such as WhatsApp. The data this uses will vary on the form of messages being sent.
How do I know If I am Using Mobile Data?
Your smartphone display will show at the top of the screen a WiFi signal if connected to the Internet via a WiFi network. An icon which is shaped like a funnel, similar to the below is how to recognise this. If not, and your phone is showing 4G or 5G, then your mobile device is attempting to connect via mobile data – this will only work if you have enough data on your plan and as long as you have mobile data activated on your device.
Can I control Mobile Data?
Yes. In the settings of your mobile device, under “Network and Internet” you will find a “Mobile Data” toggle which states that when on you have access to data using the mobile network. This is something which you can manually control from your phone as you wish.
You will also find that there is a setting which allows you to set a data limit warning. On Android devices this is normally set to 2GB of usage and will send a notification to you advising that it has been reached. This is not in sync with your data plan, so if you have a 10GB plan you will still receive the notification so don’t be alarmed that your tariff is incorrect, it isn’t. You may adjust the data warning setting manually too.
So How much Internet do I get for 1GB?
If we look at what you can do with 1GB of data, it’s then easy to calculate how many GB you may need. Let’s look at the different types of usage according to the Vodafone website:
- Watch 1 hour and 20 minutes of video in standard definition
- Stream roughly 8 hours of high quality music (320kbps)
- Send or receive approximately 1000 emails
WhatsApp is an app many people don’t associate with the internet, however you would also be using mobile data. According to a report by mobiles.co.uk you can send 32,000 WhatsApp messages for your 1GB data.
Scrolling through social media platforms such as Facebook will use lot’s more data. As an example 5 hours on Facebook could use 100MB (that’s one tenth of the 1GB allowance).
Another regularly used app is Google Maps, which a 4 hour drive could use 250MB of mobile data – that’s a quarter of your 1GB allowance.
Of course most people will be using a mixture of the above, whilst usage patterns will change from month to month based on particular circumstances. The key is to make sure you have enough data and to monitor your usage. Using data out of your agreed bundle can be expensive.
What are Data/Spend Caps?
The mobile networks have over the last few years created methods of preventing “Bill Shock” which customers can opt-in for. These spend caps mean that once you have used your mobile data allowance, or reached a specified over-spend, your mobile data would stop working which means you will not be charged any extra.
This of course could cause issues if you really needed more data, however this can be overcome by purchasing extra data in the short-term whilst you consider whether you need to increase your plan going forward.
Unlimited Data Solution!
Currently the mobile networks offer Unlimited Data Plans. This means much of the above becomes less to worry about as you can use your mobile device for mobile data as much as you want. This does of course come at a price however it means that you can leave your “Mobile Data” toggle activated with no stress.
Mobile Data when Roaming
The inclusive mobile data we have discussed so far is generally for use in the UK. When travelling overseas, mobile data is sometimes not included, or is limited to an agreed “fair-usage policy”. You would need to check with your provider before travelling and it may require you to purchase an international roaming bundle for short term use, or even changing your tariff.