Skip navigation
Blog
Blog

How many megabytes are in a gig? Understanding mobile data

Understanding mobile data

How many megabytes are in a gig? What exactly is a megabyte of mobile data? A gigabyte of mobile data? How many emails is that? How many minutes of YouTube video? How many hours of streaming music from the likes of Spotify or Apple Music?

A voice minute is easily understood. After all, we all know what a minute is. Ditto for a text message. Data is a little more difficult to quantify, especially for those new to the world of mobile. At Ting, we like to be transparent about our rates, so let’s dive into the world of megs and gigs.

  • Text-only email – 20 KB
  • Email with photo attachment – 350 KB/email
  • Photo – 2 MB/photo
  • Social – 250 KB/post
  • Browsing – 2MB/page
  • App Download – 12 MB Android/35 MB iOS
  • Music Streaming – 1 MB/min
  • Gameplay 1 MB/min
  • HD video streaming – 15 MB/min

First, we’re going to drop some numbers on you. Many of them come directly from an about.com article on mobile data with data compiled from various carrier estimates of the average smartphone data usage of specific smartphone activities. We also used numerous other sources to update those numbers where necessary. We’ve broken them down for you in terms of small, medium, large and extra-large buckets of data.

How many megabytes are in a gig

How many kilobytes are in a megabyte? How many megabytes are in a gigabyte? For ease of calculation, we’ll say there are 1000 kilobytes (KB) in a megabyte (MB) and 1000 MB in a gigabyte (GB), often referred to as a gig of data.

These figures are based on using mobile data on your smartphone and don’t take tethering into account. Mobile versions of websites are designed to be less data heavy than their non-mobile counterparts.

Keep in mind that if you’re using Ting, exceeding your current usage level will bump you up to the next level and you’ll pay that amount without any penalties or overage fees.

Small – 100 MB

If we say the average text-only email is 20 KB a piece, we can send and receive about 5,000 such emails and still stay within the 100 MB Small bucket. Or, we can visit about 50 web pages in a given month, assuming an average of 2 MB per site (yep – modern web pages have gotten quite a bit heftier). We can stream around 100 minutes of music or upload 50 high-quality photos.

Realistically, the 100 MB Small bucket is only suitable if you’re in range of a Wi-Fi hotspot at home or in the office most of the time and you only need to use mobile data very infrequently when on the go. It’s also perfect for users that mainly use talk and text, largely using data for occasionally checking and sending emails, looking up information, and getting directions on the go.

Of course, you can always set a usage alert in the Ting dashboard to let you know when you’re nearing the top of your chosen bucket.

Medium – 500 MB

Most Ting customers use the Medium bucket for data. Here, you can use mobile data when necessary without much worry; sending and receiving emails, settling bar bets with a quick visit to Wikipedia, and sharing occasional social media updates. By the numbers, 500 MB of mobile data allows for:

  • >1,425 emails (with attachments) sent or received or
  • >250 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

If you’re pretty good at using Wi-Fi most of the time, it’s not hard to stay within the 500 MB Medium bucket. Ting customers are pros at this. By using techniques like pre-downloading streaming media, apps, and large files over Wi-Fi, they can comfortably utilize their 500 MB for emails, browsing, and social media. As always, Ting alerts and limits in the account control panel are a huge help.

Large – 1000 MB (1 gigabyte or GB)

The answer to how many megabytes are in a gig is 1000. The Large bucket offers 1 GB, which, for anyone with regular access to Wi-Fi, means worrying a lot less about mobile data. At this stage, you can also start thinking about pooling your data. With four devices under a plan, each can use 250 MB. That means 713 emails each, listening to 250 minutes of streaming music each or viewing more than 125 web pages.

While remembering to pre-download and use Wi-Fi whenever available may be a breeze for you, your fourteen-year-old kid may be a bit less, shall we say, dedicated. Luckily, with Ting alerts you can set a limit for each device on your account and can even turn off mobile data until the next month if someone blows through their megabyte allowance. That’ll teach ’em!


In raw numbers, 1000 MB of data allows for:

  • >2,850 emails (with attachments) sent or received or
  • >5,560 web pages or
  • 1,000 minutes of streaming music or
  • 500 photos uploaded or downloaded or
  • 1 hour of HD video streaming or
  • 250 app downloads

Again, setting alerts and limits for individual devices or the account as a whole in the Ting dashboard will ensure that you don’t exceed your chosen bucket.

XL – 2 GB+

For anyone who practices great Wi-Fi ‘hygiene’ (that’s what our grade school teacher would have called connecting to Wi-Fi whenever possible and pre-downloading media and large files), this bucket will pretty much erase any data use worries. It also gives a bit more leeway when you’re pooling data between a few phones. With just one phone on your account, those smart Wi-Fi and data habits will keep you out of this bucket and down in the smaller ranges instead. To invoke our favorite mantra: use less? Pay less.

… and beyond

If you exceed the XL bucket (2,100 MB or 2.1 GB of mobile data), no worries. Each gigabyte is just $10.

Cutting back on data is easier than you think

Knowing what a megabyte of data is and how many megabytes are in a gig may help you estimate how much you will pay each month for data. By using Wi-Fi and figuring out which apps are using the most data, you’re bound to do more with your smartphone without paying more.

If you’re coming from an overpriced “unlimited” plan from one of the major carriers, these buckets may sound too small to stay within. Trust us and over 250,000 Ting customers; they’re not. We can help show you how to do just that. Get the free Cut your data eBook from Ting. Look into ways you can reduce background data use then teach your kids about data usage as well. And if you’re looking for even more ways to save on your next bill, check out our complete guide on ways to reduce mobile data usage.

Try Ting with your phone

Try Ting with your phone

Most phones work on Ting with no changes required. Confirm that yours is one with a risk-free BYOD check.

Check your Phone