Mobile data: what you need to know

Most smartphone plans come with a monthly data allowance, for example 500MB or 1GB (this is how much internet use you are allowed during your monthly billing cycle). If you use more than your included allowance you will be charged extra.

Keeping track of how much data you’re going to use during your monthly billing cycle can be tricky, so it’s a good idea to learn how much data is required for sending emails, using social media and using apps. It’s also important to understand how data is measured. Smartphone data is usually measured in kilobytes (kB), megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB).

1024kB = 1MB

1024MB = 1GB

Some providers will charge a minimum data session. For example, even though a single Facebook status update might only use a few kB, some providers will count that as 1MB. Check your provider’s website as to how you will be charged.

So what does this all mean when you’re using your smartphone? This table shows the most common activities on smartphones and how much data they typically use. Please note this table is intended to be used as a rough guide. Data usage can vary depending on your device and the quality of content.

Activity Data usage
Sending a tweet Minimal (a few kB)
One Facebook status update Minimal (a few kB)
Refreshing Twitter stream (approximately 10 times) 70KB
Refreshing Facebook news feed 50-200KB
GPS maps (1 location search) 150-200KB
Email (100 sent/received without attachments) 2.5MB
Music streaming (3 minutes) 3MB
Radio streaming (10 minutes) 15MB
Email (10 sent/received with attachments) 18MB
General web browsing (30 minutes) 10-20MB
YouTube video streaming (5 minutes) 25MB
Downloading standard definition TV show
(45 minutes)
Downloading standard definition movie
(2 hours)

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