Based on our research, we estimate you’d be able to do all this on your smartphone, every day:
- Browse 10 web pages
- Read 50 BBC News pages
- Read and reply to 20 emails
- Watch a 1-minute video on YouTube
- Upload a photo to Facebook
It’s important to note that this is just an indication of what your real daily usage could be, based on average activity on a high end Android device. And if you don’t read BBC News or watch videos, that’s fine - there are loads of other things you can do with the internet on your phone. It's just didn’t have space to cover all of them.
If you’re a Pay As You Go customer, it’s good to know that our great new rates don’t expire after 30 days: they last until you’ve used your last penny – so you can talk, text and browse your heart out. Find out more.
Why we put this estimate together.
We’re often shown lists of how many emails, videos and photos you can view with your monthly data allowance. For example, you could read 2000 emails with 250MB a month. Or download 32 music tracks with 1GB.
But how useful is that? We know you’d never just read emails or just get music with your data allowance – so we wanted to suggest how a real person might use their 250MB data allowance in an average day. That way, it should be easier for you to judge whether 250MB is enough for you to do all the things you’d want to do with your phone.
So, if you think you’d do more than what we’ve described – or if you’d want to do more of the things that use up more data, like streaming videos and music, then you’ll need more than 250MB a month. Our recommendation? Go for an Ultimate Internet plan or The One Plan.
How we worked it out.
There are 30 days in an average month, so 250 divided by 30 gives you a daily allowance of 8.3MB.
Then we identified some of the most popular activities on our network based on, well, what we tend to do most. In case you’re interested, we researched this in December 2011. We looked at how much data doing each of the following activities generally used.
Browsing web pages.
We used Wikipedia as an example of an average web page as these pages contain plenty of links, text and images. The average page size was 250-350KB on all devices. So that means you can browse 3-4 pages per MB.
Browsing BBC News pages.
News articles are a good example of a smaller and more frequently visited web page. With a simple layout and fewer images, the average webpage size was 25-30KB on all devices, meaning that you can browse 30-40 pages per MB.
Reading and replying to emails.
Plain text email size was constant across all devices, ranging from 5 to 10KB per email depending on the amount of text. Allowing for replies to each email, this gives 10-20 emails per MB.
The amount of data used by attachments, images and rich content emails was entirely dependent on size and quality of images within the email or attached to the message. In our calculation, we estimated that half of a user’s emails would be plain text and half would feature rich content.
Video on YouTube.
As a guide, data usage on YouTube was found to be as follows:
Apple and high-end Android devices running a high quality clip: 3-4MB each minute
Lower end smartphones or high-end running a low quality clip: 2-3MB each minute
Lower end smartphones running a low quality clip: 1-2MB each minute
As these estimates show, data usage is entirely dependent on a user’s device and the quality of video streamed. Based on the phones we sell and YouTube’s default settings, we judged that a high-end phone running low quality clips would be the most likely scenario, using up around 2.5MB per minute.
Facebook photo upload.
On most smartphones, you can upload a photo to Facebook without incurring the News Feed overhead, so this reduces the amount of data used. Initial research shows that Android tends to shrink photos by a factor of 2 on upload to reduce the data used. Generally this would mean you’d use less than 1MB per image.
It’s also worth noting that the version of Facebook you’re using will affect the amount of data used. The plain text mobile version of facebook (0.facebook.com) uses the least amount of data but some features may not be available. The Facebook app uses more data as the experience is richer and more features are available.
Facebook status update.
It should be noted that updating a status will not use much data on its own. However it will incur a large overhead due to the News Feed and related links updating. It’s impossible to separate one from the other – so we can’t say how much data updating your status will use. But updating your News Feed can use up to 1MB each time you do it.
Apps vary greatly in size. Download a 5MB app and it will use up 5MB of your data allowance – simple. On an everyday basis, the main data drain will be updating and using apps rather than downloading them. But when you do download an app, it’ll come out of your data allowance.
This one depends on your operating system. Here’s the guide to how many miles you get for your megabytes:
iOS: up to 1MB per mile, so 1mile per MB
Android: up to 350Kb per mile, so 3 miles per MB
Symbian (Nokia): up to 100kB per mile, so 10 miles per MB
It’s also worth noting that apps running in the background, email and operating system updates, software updates and app updates can use data without you realising. The amount of data used depends on your device and what apps you’re using.