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What is mobile data and how much data do I need?

what is mobile data

What is mobile data?

If you’re new to tracking your minutes, texts and mobile data, you might find yourself asking, what is mobile data? I mean, what is it really?

what is mobile dataOn Ting, you don’t pay a hefty monthly fee for unlimited texts, minutes and data. We do things a little differently, and our customers only pay for what they actually need. Ting charges rates on usage, for texts, minutes and data. Everyone can understand quantities of texts and minutes, but understanding mobile data in terms of megabytes and gigabytes can be something new to wrap your head around.

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 and tricks for using less mobile data on your iPhone or Android device.

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 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 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

Most Ting customers use around 500 MB of data per month. So this is what the average Ting customer is doing on their cellphone, away from a Wi-Fi connection:

  • >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

That 500 MB doesn’t count towards your bill on Ting when you’re sending emails, streaming video or downloading apps on Wi-Fi. Stuff you do on Wi-Fi is free on Ting. The more you reduce data usage, and the more you use Wi-Fi, the more you’ll save on Ting.

Does cellular data cost money?

what is mobile dataIn a word, yes. On Ting, we charge rates for data usage. Most Ting customers use around 500 MB per month.

Unlimited plans can seem appealing on their face. As much data as you want for a flat fee? The truth is, big unlimited providers often throttle data, meaning once you hit a certain level of GB usage, they slow your service speeds. At Ting, we don’t play those games.

If saving is important to you, and you want to get a solid smartphone experience for less, Ting might be the right option.

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.

Ting also gives you the option of setting caps and alerts for any phone on your account. Create limits and get alerted when you reach them.

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.

Reduce mobile data in iOS

what is mobile dataIn iOS, you can 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.

How to reduce data usage on Android

Android users will want to check out Datally by Google or the GlassWire app. These data managers help Android users keep an eye on their data and set restrictions.

We find Datally to be especially helpful because it lets you manage individual apps directly in the app itself. Check out our full guide to Datally and get to know this awesome Android data manager app.

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.

background data

How do I turn off background data on my iPhone?

Some apps transfer data in the background. This means that an app can download data when you’re not using it. To reduce your data usage, you can restrict background data.

Reduce background data in Android

Check out our full guide to restricting background data for Android phones.

More data saving tips and tricks

Data saving is kind of our thing here on the Ting 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.

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