What is mobile data and how much data do I need?
Christine Ottoni • July 22, 2019
What is mobile data?
So, what is mobile data? Well, mobile data is what allows your phone to get online when you’re away from Wi-Fi. Mobile-enabled devices can send and receive information over a wireless cellular connection. As long as you have a cellular connection, you can use the Internet.
We’re going to break down mobile data, cover how mobile data works and when your phone uses it. We’ll also go over some tips for using less data on your iPhone or Android device.
At Ting Mobile, we have a variety of mobile data plans (starting at just $10/month) that are designed to fit every type of mobile user. While we do offer unlimited data plans, we also have set data and pay-as-you-go options as well. Naturally, for those users, the less they use the more they’ll save. And it’s easier to minimize the amount of data you use than you think. All you need to do is understand mobile data.
How does mobile data work?
Mobile data allows your phone to access the Internet even when you’re not on Wi-Fi. Mobile data gives you an Internet connection anywhere as long as you’re connected to a cellular network.
What uses mobile data on a cell phone?
Think apps, your Internet browser, email and syncing to the cloud. Mobile data usage is measured in megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB). There are approximately 1,000 MB in 1 GB of data. Everything you send to (upload) or receive from (download) the Internet will require some amount of data.
One way to understand the question “What is mobile data” and what uses data on cell phones is to take a look at normal cell phone use and the data that corresponds with that use.
What 500 MB of mobile data gets you
These days, 500 MB sounds like far too little data to most of us. However, this is what it actually gets you:
- >1,425 emails (with attachments) sent or received or
- >2,780 web pages or
- 500 minutes of streaming music or
- 250 photos uploaded or downloaded or
- 30 minutes of HD video streaming or
- 125 app downloads
Now, remember that 500 MB doesn’t count towards your bill on Ting Mobile when you’re sending emails, streaming video or downloading apps on Wi-Fi. So when we decide we can actually wait till we get home to check Instagram, or decide to pre-download Netflix episodes over Wi-Fi for tomorrow’s commute, we’re greatly reducing the amount of mobile data we need to pay for. The more you use Wi-Fi, the more you’ll save.
Does cellular data cost money?
In a word, yes. Cell phone providers will charge for mobile data used over a cellular connection. On Ting Mobile, we charge the low rate of $5/GB. It’s as simple as that. We’ll never charge you penalties or overage fees.
Mobile data on or off: what should you choose?
Smartphones give you the option of turning mobile data on or off altogether. This can be a helpful trick if you’re used to using data wherever you are and want to try a more conscious method of consumption.
What happens when you turn off mobile data? Well, you won’t use any cellular data to upload or download to or from the Internet, so you won’t be incurring any charges. You’ll still be able to connect to the Internet on a Wi-Fi network. Let’s talk about how to do that.
Turn off mobile data in iOS
It’s very simple to completely turn your iPhone or iPad’s mobile data off. Simply go to Settings > Cellular and turn the Cellular Data toggle off.
In iOS, you can also turn mobile data on or off for specific apps and reduce data usage for maps, social media apps, email, video streaming and more. For example, you’ll still be able to access downloaded content in Apple Music, but you won’t be able to download new music.
Not sure what to turn off? Looking for an idea of what uses data on iPhone?
Take a quick peek at your Cellular usage for each app. Under each app in the Cellular screen, there will be a number corresponding with how much cellular data it has used since you last reset your statistics. One good tip is to try turning off data for your apps that use the most data. You can even use popular apps like Google Maps completely offline with a little advance planning.
To reset your cellular usage stats, just scroll all the way to the bottom of the Cellular screen and hit Reset Statistics.
Turn off mobile data in Android
It’s just as easy to reduce data usage on Android. Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Mobile data > Data Usage in order to turn off mobile data. Unfortunately, you can’t turn off mobile data for individual apps.
A bit about background data
It’s important to note that cellular data isn’t just working when you’re actively using an app. Many apps have built-in permissions that allow them to update in the background when you’re not using them. That means if you’re not on Wi-Fi and you haven’t restricted an app’s ability to update in the background, it might do so over cellular data.
How to turn off background data on an Android phone
In Settings > Network & Internet, you can turn on Data Saver, which prevents compatible apps from using background data. You can also restrict individual apps from using background data.
How to turn off background data on iPhone
Those sneaky background refreshes adding to your iPhone or iPad’s mobile data usage? To reduce your data usage, you can restrict background data globally or for specific apps.
More data saving tips and tricks
Data saving is kind of our thing here on the Ting Mobile blog. If you’re looking for more tips and tricks for using less data, we’ve got you covered. Check out our summer data saving tips and our data saving tips for students. We’ve also a complete guide to lowering mobile data and cutting your bill.
See what you could save
Ting Mobile’s plans start at just $10/month and save people a lot of money. See what you’d save.Find your perfect plan