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Internet Data Usage Guide: What uses the most data?

08 May 2020
Joseph

Seph

amaysim's tech geek

What uses the most data on your mobile device?

Streaming HD video content is by far the biggest perpetrator when it comes to draining your monthly mobile data allowance, however it's the combination of everything you do your mobile device which adds up to your overall data threshold.

When we first sign up to a mobile phone plan, it’s hard to understand how much data we’ll realistically use. A lot of us underestimate our average mobile data usage per month, which can be a big problem and lead to either wastage or excess data charges.

A recent study from Deloitte showed 43% of Aussies don’t know how much data they use each month

It’s time for more Australians to understand how this whole data usage thing works and figure out which applications are chewing through the most data. Keep reading to find out how much mobile data different online activities use.

How to check your data usage 

The methods on how to check your data usage on both Apple and Android are very similar.With this said, the easiest way to check how much data you’ve used and how much you have left is by checking with your telco.

The amaysim app, for instance, breaks it down day-by-day usage so you can see where your data usage soared and where it might have lowered. With amaysim mobile and data only plans providing customers with heaps data, it will be tough to ever go over, but its better to be safe than sorry.

For Apple
  • To see how much mobile data you've used, go to Settings > Cellular or Settings > Mobile Data. If you're using an iPad, you might see Settings > Cellular Data instead.
For Android

If you're using an Android smartphone, you'll find your data usage tools by following these steps:

  • Open the Settings app
  • Scroll or tap on Wireless & Networks
  • Tap Data Usage

There may be some slight variation in these steps and menu option names depending on what version of Android and the type of phone you're using.

What’s draining my mobile data? 

When looking through your data usage, you'll find it isn't one app that’s draining all your data, it’ll be a combination of apps. The apps where you spend the most time will be at the top of this list, generally, these will be video-heavy apps such as YouTube, Netflix, Instagram, and Facebook where rich content is being consumed.

How much data does internet browsing use?

General web browing such as reading the news or online shopping only uses around 60MB/hour.

Depending on the types of websites you visit, the amount of data you use up will vary as some sites include lots more rich content (images and videos). Generally speaking, expect to use around 60MB/hour when browsing the web. Shopaholics rejoice!

How much data does YouTube streaming use?

Youtube steaming users around 360MB/hour (SD video quality)

Mobile data usage on YouTube can vary significantly depending on which streaming quality option you select. If you stream using the standard video quality option (480p) it should only use around 6MB/minute or 360MB/hour.

Streaming high-quality YouTube content in 1080p will use around 150MB/minute or 900MB for a full hour of usage. If you’re looking to stay in control of your usage, we recommend optimising your YouTube streaming to ensure you stream in SD (480p).

How much data does Netfix Streaming use?

Netflix streaming uses appoxiamtely 250MB-1GB/hour depending on which quality setting you use

Streaming using the lowest quality setting on Netflix will use around 5MB/minute or 300MB/hour, the medium quality will chew through 9MB/minute or 450MB/hour, while the high-quality setting will churn through 17MB/minute which equates to a full GB for each hour of Netflix you consume.

With most programmes running for an hour, that’s anywhere from 250MB - 1GB of data gone every time you watch an episode of Ozark or Stranger Things.

There are obviously a lot of great shows coming to Netflix each month, so be smart and pre-download them using WiFi so you aren’t left dataless at the end of your billing cycle.

How much data does social media use?

Scrolling on Facebook uses approximately 120MB/hour, or 160MB/hour for video content

Just scrolling through social media will use around 2MB/minute, which is one of the lowest offenders. If you enjoy watching videos though, this number will increase for each minute you spend enjoying cat videos on Facebook.

Facebook has settings that allow you to limit your Facebook data usage and manage your monthly data spend better.

How much data does music streaming use?

Music streaming uses around 150MB/hour

Data usage will depend on the streaming service you use, but on average you’ll be looking at 2.5MB for each minute you stream which equates to around 150MB/hour, one of the lowest data users on our list!

But remember, we often stream music for hours on end each day, which can sometimes add up.

How much data does gaming use?

This can vary a lot depending on the actual game you're playing and can range anywhere between 3MB/hour to a full GB.

Ideally, you should check the data usage section on your phone and see which of your games are burning through the most data. It also pays to be careful of game updates, as these can be large files that you should download while connected to Wi-Fi.

How much data does FaceTime use?

FaceTime uses approximately 90MB per hour

A FaceTime video call uses around 3MB/minute, so about 180MB for that hour-long chat with grandma. As video conferencing becomes a more popular way to stay connected with friends and family, the need to monitor your average data usage per month increases.

How to best manage your data usage

One of the best ways to minimise data usage is to prepare ahead of time! Look into mobile games that don’t require online play so you can stay entertained without using data.

Download music or podcasts while connected to Wi-Fi so you don’t spend all your mobile data streaming the same album again and again. Stream Netflix, Stan, and YouTube in lower qualities to save on data (or download ahead of time on those apps as well).

Review what’s using up most of your data and check when you’re using data the most through the amaysim app. Try to change your habits accordingly and never run out of data again!

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