Data- it’s a tricky one isn’t it? Everyone’s either talking about megabytes and gigabytes, or WiFi and 4G. So what does it all mean, and how much do you really need?
Data is essentially mobile internet, which allows you to get online when you’re out and about. Not all users need or want data; for many, using a WiFi connection is good enough. However, for those of you who have a smartphone and want to make the most of the apps that come with it, a data connection will be at the top of your list.
But how much data do you need for the latest iPhone 6s and other top smartphones? This article should be able to help you out...
Most users opt for a tariff which comes with 1GB of data - but what does this actually get you?
With 1GB or 1000MB of data each month, users can do a whole host of things while they’re out and about, from watching catch up TV and movies to playing games, answering emails and updating Facebook.
But some applications are bound to be more data-heavy than others. So, as a rough guide, 1GB can get you:
Fancy joining the iPhone crowd? Take a look at some of these iPhone 6s deals, all of which offer plenty of data for you to play with.
Not sure exactly how much data you're working through? Apps can be big time data disruptors...
Build your own monthly tariff with our mobile data usage calculator:
|Data usage calculator|
If you don’t use your phone to access the internet often, or if you would consider yourself a heavy internet user, you might want to opt for a different package of minutes, texts and mobile data.
Mobile phone contracts often start from 250MB of data, which is ideal for users who only need the internet to send the occasional email or to check the weather forecast. If this describes you, you are best to go for a contract with less than 1GB of data, which will cut down on the cost of your phone bill every month.
At the other end of the scale are heavy users. If you can’t last 5 minutes without refreshing your Facebook page or sending a Tweet, then you want to opt for tariffs which come with more than 1GB of data each month. These deals might be more expensive than those with less data, but believe us, it’s cheaper to pay a little extra every month than getting a shock bill land on your doorstep for using too much.
4G data is essentially the same as 3G data, except faster. With 4G, users can expect to access apps, internet and emails a whole lot faster than on your usual connection. In some places, a 4G connection even works faster than WiFi.
One thing you need to be aware of is that thanks to the superfast internet speeds, 4G can eat into your monthly data allowance. Thankfully, most 4G deals start at 2GB to account for this, meaning you shouldn’t have to risk going over your monthly allowance.
|Learn more about 4G|
What's next for mobile internet? Find out all about 5G here...
Whilst 4G is now a very common network for us to connect our mobile phones to, 5G will be the next step up in the future, but it's still a long way off.
Ofcom has put a potential date for a UK release of 5G at some point in the year 2020, but this isn't set in stone by any stretch of the imagination. This does seem like quite a fair estimate however, especially as 5G has been researched quite extensively already.
Some experiments have measured 5G internet connections at 1 terabit per second, which is on average 65,000 times faster than your average 4G download. This means that you could a full feature film in less than one second - effectively putting an end to buffering problems which have dogged our current internet connections.
Of course, this isn't proven in a real world situation yet, so to expect this kind of performance off the bat might be fairly optimistic. Either way, it will definitely be a potential game changer when it does finally make an appearance.
The only issue we'll face with 5G is the amount of data we end up consuming. It's highly likely that you could quite easily burn through 1GB in around a week depending on what you happen to be doing with such a fast connection, so it could mean a hefty bump in our contract prices.
Plus, there's always the dilemma of 5G connections themselves proving pricy, meaning that our smartphones themselves could also see a dramatic jump in prices.
Nowadays 1GB Data is actually considered quite a small amount, with less and less smartphone users opting for plans with this kind of tariff. That begs the question - just how much data do you need to survive on a monthly basis?
Realistically, the average smartphone user now needs around 2GB of monthly mobile data to get by, that helps deal with daily social media browsing, emails and the odd bit of video streaming. Of course, if you'd prefer to play it safe, maybe 4-5GB might be a better move - allowing you some extra wiggle room, especially if you're without a Wi-Fi connection.
If you happen to be one of the heavier smartphone users, regularly tethering your phone, then you could need even more data, with 10GB and even 20GB plans on offer. This kind of tariff should make sure that you can get by each month, regardless of how often you're tweeting your friends...
Written by Luke Hatfield