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data usage guide

Data Usage: This is how much your smartphone consumes

Author: Anthony Lee

Phone & Tablet Expert

data usage

Does your smartphone humiliate you every month? Somewhere halfway it tells you that the data volume has finally been used up. But what is worse? The disproportionately high price to still be able to receive pictures of your friends via WhatsApp or Snapchat? Or that you just don’t know where all the data is that you thought when you signed the contract that it would last for a whole month?

We can help you with the latter – although we cannot give any precise information either, after all, the actual data consumption depends on many factors. But the empirical values ​​that we have compiled for you here can help you to better estimate your consumption.

Simple text messages that are sent via WhatsApp or another messenger are only a few kilobytes in size. If you formulate a longer sentence, you may have a data consumption of 10 KB. The use of emojis drives the counter slightly upwards, but sending or receiving photos goes beyond any calculation. Depending on the format and compression, a WhatsApp image can be 40 KB in size, but also 4 MB. It then hardly matters how many text messages ultimately come together.

VoIP & Video Calls

The disparity between text and attachment also applies to Snapchat, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Twitter or Google+. A fixed value can also not be specified for calls via Voice-over-IP since pauses in conversation are compressed more than wave bursts. A VoIP call via Skype can, therefore, use up to 3 MB per minute. FaceTime seems to be much more frugal with a data consumption of 500 KB per minute, only 2 to 4 MB per minute should be incurred during video calls.

Streaming Music

Music streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Napster & Co are becoming increasingly popular. With an unfavorable configuration, the app can quickly become a data trap. One hour of listening to music with a low resolution of 96 kbit / s can already consume 40 MB of data. If you value quality and stream at 224 kbit / s, you will need 100 MB in the same period. It is easier to calculate an average for data consumption: 1 MB per minute.

Some mobile operators have teamed up with a streaming provider and do not calculate its data traffic in certain tariffs. If the general throttling starts, the music streaming will also be throttled. However, a safe option is to choose a streaming provider that allows you to load music onto your smartphone and listen to it offline. Then, by the way, no dead zone can silence the music.

High data consumption with video streaming

If you show your friends a short cat video on YouTube from time to time, you will hardly notice this from the data consumption: 1 to 8 MB are generated in one minute. The value ultimately depends on the selected quality, which should be low on a smartphone by default. But with HD movies in 720p, 130 MB can be gone after 10 minutes. This quickly becomes noticeable on the data account.

It’s not that different with Netflix. A one-hour series in medium quality is 700 MB. The user can also choose a different level here: low at 300 MB per hour, HD at 3 GB per hour, Ultra HD at 7 GB per hour or automatically. The latter is a roulette game: the quality is adjusted to the possible speed, not to your data consumption. And if you like watching football: a half time with 45 minutes costs 1.3 GB with Sky Go.

Find out how to watch Netflix offline.

Mobile web and email

A single page can be 200 KB, but it can also be two megabytes or more. Ultimately it depends on what is embedded in it. An animated GIF that lasts only a second can already be one megabyte. When emails are read, the same applies to data consumption as with WhatsApp: 10 KB for a pure text message, with HTML formatting and photos in the attachment accordingly more.

Unpredictable data consumption

If you complain now that this information is too vague to calculate your monthly data requirements, you are told: It gets worse. As a rule, it is enough to monitor its consumption for two or three months to get a feel for the magnitude and the deviations from it. But there are also applications on your smartphone that can increase the data traffic immeasurably.

Navigation on Google Maps, for example, always downloads new maps on a spontaneous trip over the motorway into unknown terrain. Even with many games, you have to keep an eye on how much data is reloaded. Finally, the background data that your system sends and receives has not yet been taken into account in the previous calculation of data consumption.

The new big data guzzlers, however, are the bots or personal assistants who constantly start queries in the cloud in the background. This is usually a small amount of data. However, these add up to not insignificant amounts over a month. For example, Siri consumes a total of 20 MB per month for ten questions per day on an iPhone. And that’s just the beginning: The artificial intelligence of the bots ensures that not only your questions are answered, but that you also receive new information and questions yourself.

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