How Much Data Do I Need For My Mobile Phone?

How much data do i need?How Much Data Do I Need For My Mobile Phone? There are lots of mobile phone plans on the market offering a huge range of data allowances. As with text and minutes the more you pay the more you get, but how much do you need? Some mobile phone deals seem great value but if they are not the right plan for you and you exceed the daily / monthly data allowance it can be an expensive end to the month.

Light user – If you use the internet to browse websites and check your email, you may only need between 1-3GB each month. This will give you up approximately 30 hours to surf the web, while giving you enough data to download nearly 100 songs

If you use the internet more often and regularly use You Tube etc then you should look to a plan with over 10GB allowance.

So here i a guide to the approximate data usage for some common smart phone data usage:

Browsing a website including Facebook and Twiitter

uses less than 1MB – 25MB of data.  This depends on the number of files on the website which you mobile device is having to download.  Image heavy sites will require your mobile to download more.  Bespoke mobile sites such as BBC ad Facebook crunch (makes files smaller) photo files and reduce images to a minimum from their design to save on data requirements but each view of a photo will require data.

A four minute song

uses about 6MB

A 5 minute YouTube video

could use up to 15MB

BBC iPlayer

watching iPlayer for an hour uses about 700MB.


As for songs this will be approx 6mb per song, so if you are going to listen to a lot of streamed music you may wish to look at an unlimited plan – or get Premium and as Spotify themselves suggest sync your playlists offline using wifi and then listen to them while on the go with no need for mobile data transfer

Instant Messaging

1 hour of messaging can be between 0.25 and 1mb


Skype-to-Skype: 50kbps or around 3MB for one minute of calling, 180 MB per hour

Calls to landlines or mobile numbers: 6-20 kbps or around 1MB for one minute of calling, 60MB per hour

Video calls between two mobile devices: 500kbps (Kilobyte per second), 29mb per minute, 1.7GB per hour

Video calls between a mobile device and a computer: 600kbps (Kilobyte per second), 35MB per minute, 2.1GB per hour

Online Data Calculators

If you have a good idea of the number of email you receive, hours of surfing that you do and songs you listen to you can use one of a number of data calculators from the providers.  Virgin mobile offer a easy to use mobile data calculator to help you find the right mobile plan for you

and finally….

Data usage abroad

Many people have been stung by not realising that their plan did not cover them when abroad and racking up large bills.  Even catching up on your email requires data for the download so a simple update could cost you.  Some mobile phone networks such as T-Mobile offer Boosters when abroad and switch your mobile broadband account to pay as you go effectively when abroad, which from personal experience is very helpful.

Basic rule is never use 3G abroad until you have checked with your network what, if any allowance you have abroad, and finding out the best deal for you that will cover you for you travels