Review: How Much Data Do I Need on My Mobile Plan?

Data consumption

Choosing a plan that can support your browsing habits is a must.

Choosing a mobile plan can be confusing. There are so many offers out there that taking the time to thoroughly understand and research them sometimes seems like a herculean task. Besides assessing your phone habits, you should also figure out how much data you burn through in one month before making a commitment. But how can you do that? We have some tips.

Since smartphones are hugely popular nowadays, data consumption has grown steadily in the last few years. According to research conducted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the average Australian consumer used around 630MB of data per month in 2014, and the trend is going upwards. In 2013, for instance, the same consumer used to burn only through about 250MB per month.

Now that video calling and video streaming services are a common occurrence, making sure that your mobile plan has enough data juice to sustain your browsing habits isn’t just smart, but necessary. Opt for a plan with too much data and you’ll waste money. Opt for a plan with too little and you’ll find yourself constantly exceeding your allowance. And paying extra is no fun.

If we consider the above report, we can safely conclude that a mobile plan with 1GB of data should be enough. But what exactly is an “average consumer”? How much is 1GB? What apps consume the largest amount of data? Let’s start by figuring out the basics and take it from there.

What Does GB Stand For?

KB, MB and GB are all units for measuring the amount of digital information a consumer will download on their phone when watching a video, using an app, or downloading a file. KB stands for kilobyte. 1000KB makes up one MB, or megabyte, and about 1000 megabytes make up one GB – as in gigabyte. If you’ve been researching mobile plans, you know that they come with a limit of a certain amount of MB or GB you’re allowed to use per month. If you exceed that limit, you are required to pay an extra fee.

The amount of data you burn through on your smartphone varies from person to person. If you only use your data to check Facebook and email every now and then, you’re a light data user. Add a few games in the mix, maybe watching a few videos per month, and a fair amount of browsing the internet during your commute and you’re a medium data user. Finally, if you’re constantly glued to your phone, download a lot of games and stream videos often, you’re a heavy mobile data user. As we’ve already said, picking the right amount of data depends heavily on your online habits.

Which Are the Most Data Hungry Apps?

Generally speaking, here is the average data usage for common internet actions:

  • Downloading a webpage: 100kB – 2MB
  • Checking email: approx. 100kB per email
  • Instant message: 100kB per Instant Messenger session
  • Downloading a document: 100kB per page
  • Downloading a song: 5MB per music track
  • Downloading a photo: 2MB per photo
  • Watching a video: 1MB to 5MB per minute of video watching.

Some apps are more data hungry than others. YouTube and Spotify are known to be data hogs. Games that require a data connection, like Pokemon Go, can also have a huge impact on your data consumption. Even video calling takes a toll on your data plan. As for streaming apps, they’re one of the biggest offenders. Watching an episode of Bodyguard on your way to work may be fun, but do it every day and you’ll run out of data to burn through quickly. See how much mobile data Netflix uses and how to control it.

Can I Check How Much Data Do I Use?

If you already have a smartphone, you can easily check how much data you use at the moment. For iPhones, go to Settings-Mobile. For Android, go to Settings-Data Usage. You will be able to access a detailed report of how much data you consumed during a given amount of time, as well as a list of your apps and the amount of data they used.

For instance, since I don’t watch a lot of videos when I’m not on WiFi, I was surprised to notice that Facebook was the most data hungry app on my phone, followed by Instagram and Twitter. I do use these social apps every day though, so it makes sense. My browser, IM apps and email apps were lower on the list.

data allowance is a smart choice

If you’re a heavy data consumer, a plan with a bigger data allowance is a smart choice. You don’t want to end up paying extra. Source: Shutterstock

What’s the Right Amount for Me?

By now, you probably have a clear picture of approximately how much data you should go for. If you’re a light data user, 1GB of data should be enough. Aim for 5GB if you’re a medium data user and 7+ if you’re an avid one. We recommend that you pick a plan with a higher amount of data that you think you may need – since mobile plans often come with a one or two-year commitment. However, in case your browsing habits change over time, there’s also a lot of providers that offer value-for-money mobile plans with no lock-in contract.

2018 Mobile Deals

Amaysim recently upped their data inclusions for the $30, $40, and $50 plans with 10GB, 20GB, and 40GB, respectively. Telstra, as well as Boost Mobile, are both currently offering some appealing mobile plans you should check out. Telstra, for one, is giving out a 12-month free Foxtel Now subscription for mobile users purchasing their $89 BYO plan, with more than enough data (60GB + 30GB bonus) to stream when out and about. And Boost is offering unlimited international minutes on their higher tier plans, as well as generous data inclusions. OVO joins the list with the largest 250GB mobile broadband plan now discounted for only $99.95 per month.  Better yet, take advantage of Yomojo’s family bundle plans and enjoy huge savings on monthly plan fees.

Check out these mobile plans to make sure you get the best deal available.

Mobile Plans

Mobile Plan Small
  • Free BINGE Standard for 3 months
  • $10/mth credit for 12 months on select mobiles
  • Mobile Plan Small
  • No Lock-in Contract
  • Unlimited Calls & Text
  • 40GB Data
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Unlimited Telstra Air® Wi-Fi data
  • $55/mth
Min Cost - $55 over 1 month + extra handset fee over 24 months

Moose 8.80 - 1GB
  • Moose 8.80 - 1GB
  • No Lock-in Contract
  • 300 mins Calls
  • 1GB Data
  • Sim Only Plan
  • Cancel anytime
  • No exit or penalty fees
  • $8.80/mth
Min Cost - $8.80 over 1 month

Last audited 16 September 2020