A simples guide

Can I see how much data my phone is using?

Smartphones are a great invention, we use them all the time. In fact, communications regulator, Ofcom, have found that two thirds of us use our smartphones for nearly two hours every single day. But it’s not that we all just like a good natter, we’re using our phones to browse the internet, check our social media feeds and buy stuff online too. So clearly, our smartphones are pretty good at multi-tasking, but what about the real hero behind it all – data. How do we measure data, what does it actually mean and have you got enough of it?


What is data?

Data is basically what you use to access the internet on your phone. When you sign up to a mobile phone package you’ll usually be agreeing to use a certain amount of data. If you go over that data threshold you could be hit with some pretty hefty charges – ouch! So clearly understanding what you need is key.

mobile phone

How much mobile data do I need?

Users tend to be classed in one of three groups – light users, medium users and of course, the heavy users – for those of you that just can’t live without a million apps and have your social media on an intravenous feed.

To put it all into context, data packages are usually sold in bundles of megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB) and how much you need depends on your usage. One MB is 1,000 kilobytes (KB) and 1GB is made up of 1,000 MB. So here’s what doing some of the things on your smartphone will add up to in data:

  • Email – opening and reading an average email without attachments will use between 10 and 30KB of data, if you add attachments to that then depending on the size of it you could be increasing that data usage to several MB.
  • Games – downloading a game uses about 30MB of data and playing them online will eat through twice as much.
  • Watching TV and downloading music – a TV show will use up around 95MB and you’d be looking at about six times that for a movie. Downloading a song can be anything from 3MB to 10MB.

Popular bundles include ones that give you 500MB of data – this loosely translates as 500,000 basic emails or 1,000 with attachments; downloading 100 songs or an hour of TV. Larger packages start at 1GB of data which will give you roughly enough data to download 200 songs, watch two hours of TV and read a million basic emails or 2,000 with attachments.

Which apps use the most data?

As you’d imagine, the things that take the most effort – like downloading or streaming TV, movies, music and games will use the most data. Even uploading photos onto your social media feeds will literally eat data – it’ll take 8MB to upload a photo to Facebook (even viewing a photo will use 1.5MB) and 6.5MB to upload one to Twitter.

With all this in mind, most providers will let you check your allowance and how much you’ve used. In most cases you can do this online or (ironically) download an app so you can always stay within your data limits.

So which package is for me?

That completely depends on your needs and how you like to use your phone. Going for the largest data bundle isn’t always the best – if you don’t use it all, you’re just losing out but equally, opting for a cheaper more limited data package could result in charges. To help make the decision easier, take a look at phone deals with us – you might find exactly what you need.