How to calculate the amount data you will use on your smartphone or tablet

Deciding on the right data plan for your new smartphone or tablet can be a confusing and expensive experience, especially for those who have never owned a high-powered, data-consuming device before.

Most telecommunications companies require consumers to sign up for extended contracts that are difficult to change if you suddenly realize you have chosen a plan that is not suited to your data usage, thus it is important to understand your data needs before signing on the dotted line.

So, just how much data will you use in a month?

The rate at which you chew up your data will depend on what you use your device for. If you are hoping to use your device to stream videos, music, or movies over a 3G connection on your way to work every day and are constantly connected to the internet without using a WiFi connection you will quickly burn through a 2GB or 5GB data plan. On the other hand, if you are just sending the occasional email or checking the news every now and again, you may find you are using less than 200MB per month.

The type of device you have will more than likely impact the rate of data you use too. People with high-powered devices (such as iPad, iPhone, Android-powered handsets and tablets) designed for surfing the web, streaming videos and making VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls are more likely to eat up low data allowances than those wielding a small-screen without enhanced internet capabilities.

According to US network provider AT&T, 200 megabytes (MB) of data should be enough for you to "send/receive 1,000 emails (no attachments), plus send/receive 150 emails with attachments, plus view 400 Web pages, plus post 50 photos on social media sites, plus watch 20 minutes of streaming video" every month via a 3G connection. With 2GB of data you should be able to "send/receive 10,000 emails (no attachments), plus send/receive 1,500 emails with attachments, plus view 4,000 Web pages, plus post 500 photos to social media sites, plus watch 200 minutes of streaming video" per month.

AT&T believes that around 65 percent of their smartphone customers use less than 200MB of data per month. 98 percent of their smartphone customers use less than 2GB per month. However, those figures will no doubt change in the future as music and video streaming and VoIP technologies are better integrated and as people start to use their mobile phones or tablet PCs as their primary computing devices.

A February 2010 study by market researcher Rysavy Research showed that the average smartphone user uses around 0.3GB per year (25.6MB per month) in 2010. In six years that figure is expected to reach 6.7GB per year (570MB per month).

Consumer polls on technology blogs such as Phonedog.com and DailyTech.com show slightly higher data usage figures. 33 percent of the 2,700 DailyTech readers polled used less than 200MB, 20 percent used between 200MB to 500MB, 12 percent used between 500MB and 1GB of data, 8 percent used between 1GB and 2GB, whilst 26 percent of smartphone users polled used more than 2GB of data per month.

9.1 percent of the 1,044 PhoneDog.com readers polled used less than 50MB, 5.5 percent used less than 100MB, 8.1 percent used less than 200MB, 10.7 percent used less than 500MB, 14.3 percent used less than 1GB, 12.7 percent used less than 2GB, 15.3 percent used less than 5GB and 24.2 percent used in excess of 5GB.

AT&T's figures, reader polls and surveys provide an indication of how much data you might use in a month, but as Clicker.com explained in a June 4 article on AT&T data usage, "it's not that cut and dry, especially when it comes to video. The bandwidth expended to watch videos from YouTube, NBC, Netflix, ABC, and others can vary wildly. The death of unlimited [data plans] may be worst for iPad users - the ABC iPad app alone was downloaded 205,000 times in its first 10 days, with users watching over 650,000 television episodes*."

To help explain how easily people can use up their data allowance when streaming video content on the iPad Clicker.com ran their own video streaming tests. According to their calculations users could watch around 17 hours of YouTube content, 13.65 hours of programming on Netflix, or 10.24 hours of programming on ABC's iPad app before using up their entire bandwidth for the month.

If you have previously owned a smartphone, you should be able to see your approximate monthly data usage by navigating to the "Data Usage" page under your phone's general settings (this will differ depending on the make and model of your phone). If you don't see these figures on your device, your cell phone network provider should be able to provide you with bandwith usage details.

AT&T has also created a data usage calculator that can help you work out your approximate data usage in a month. Users enter in the approximate number of emails, songs, and applications they download plus the number of minutes they stream video, the number of web pages they view and the number of social media updates they make within a day to estimate their monthly data usage. The AT&T data calculator can be found here: http://www.att.com/standalone/data-calculator/index.html

Clickr.com's video streaming tests: http://www.clicker.com/blog/how-much-video-can-you-actually-stream-with-atts-new-data-plans/

Rysavy Research's Mobile Broadband Capacity Constraints And the Need for Optimization report (pdf): http://www.rysavy.com/Articles/2010_02_Rysavy_Mobile_Broadband_Capacity_Constraints.pdf

PhoneDogs's June 2 data usage poll: http://www.phonedog.com/2010/06/02/poll-how-much-data-do-you-use-per-month/

DailyTech's June 2 data usage poll: http://www.dailytech.com/How+much+data+do+you+use+per+month+on+your+smartphone/article18599.htm

 

 

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
Lois Pryce... Life Without a Postcode. Lois lives on a boat with her husband.. Registering to vote in the election has prooved to be very difficult without a fixed residential post code. (David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Steven Fletcher scores the second goal for Scotland
cricketBut they have to bounce back to beat Gibraltar in Euro 2016 qualifier
News
news
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing