Are you going to finish that? We explore why most people’s eyes are bigger than their stomachs when it comes to all-you-can-eat mobile data deals…

The stats are in! And, while you can expect to spend about 3 years and 10 days of your life viewing and updating social media, you’re unlikely to require an unlimited mobile data plan!

Sound counterintuitive? Well, according to Deloitte’s 2016 Mobile Consumer Survey despite one tenth of us instinctively reaching for our smartphones as soon as we wake up, UK consumers use less than half of their total data allowance on average every month. That’s a whole heap of data just disappearing into the ether.

Yet to be convinced? Read on to find out why less is often more, and how much you really need when it comes to mobile data…

Movies and TV

If you’re a bit of a movie buff you might be surprised to know that streaming your favourite film or TV show uses 1GB of data per hour for standard definition (SD) and up to 3GB per hour for high definition (HD) video. That means that, that even if you did stream all 30 episodes (24 hours) of Twin Peaks season 1 and 2 on NOW TV in SD on your phone in a mad dash to catch up, you’d still only consume 24GB.

“Even if you did stream all 30 episodes (24 hours) of Twin Peaks season 1 and 2 on NOW TV in SD on your phone in a mad dash to catch up, you’d still only consume 24GB.”

But streaming that much content on your mobile also makes you a bit of an outlier. According to eMarketer’s latest digital viewing forecast, the average Brit is expected to spend around 27 minutes a day watching video on mobile devices in 2017. If we round that up to half an hour a day over the course of a 31-day month, and assume that all of that watching is done using mobile data in SD, that’s only 15.5GB.

Less of a streamer, more of a downloader? It’s probably best to do so when you’re connected to a solid Wi-Fi network. Downloading an SD film chews through around 700MB of data. In HD, this can increase to around 4GB per movie. However, even if you did download four HD movies in a month over 4G, you’d still only need 16GB.

If you’re a keen streamer or downloader, anything over 8GB should be enough to keep you going. Opt for one of our Pay monthly Red Entertainment bundles to get a free 24 months of Spotify Premium, Sky Sports Mobile TV or a NOW TV Entertainment Pass.


That’s TV and movies covered, but what about Beyoncé? Surely you need unlimited data for your daily commute and (most definitely daily) gym session as well? Well, streaming one hour of music on Spotify uses roughly 50MB of data with the music quality set to ‘Normal’, which you can check in your settings. Keen to listen to Drake 24 hours a day? That’ll consume 1.2GB of data. Want to do that every day for a month? 37.2GB all up. Basically, if your data gives up before you do, you’re probably listening to an awful lot of music.

“Spotify uses roughly 50MB of data with the music quality set to ‘Normal’, which you can check in your settings.”

But if streaming tunes is your main priority, we recommend anything from 8GB of mobile data upwards. Looking for ways to curb your usage? Try downloading your Spotify Premium playlists for offline listening.

Social media

According to this study commissioned by Bupa, the average Brit spends around 53 minutes a day on social media and/or browsing the web. That means, with one hour of social media requiring up to 90MB, the average person’s social data usage would only be around 2.5GB per month.

“The average Brit spends around 53 minutes a day on social media and/or browsing the web.”

A good way to keep this usage down is to turn off autoplay. To do so simply access the settings in your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps and change your preferences under mobile data usage to stop videos from playing automatically, or to ensure they only play automatically when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network.

If you tend to stick to social media and the odd email now and then, you’re even more unlikely to need unlimited. Anywhere upwards of around 4GB mobile data should be enough to see you through.

Video calling

Five minutes of Facetime video calling can use up to 15MB of data. An hours’ worth of Facetime video will use 180MB of data, and that’s comparative to other video calling apps such as Whatsapp, Skype and Facebook Messenger, which can use up to around 4MB per minute.

If you’re a frequent video caller, look for plans 8GB and over.


How many emails can you read and send in 52 minutes? Well apparently one day’s worth, if you’re the average Brit; logging in, reading, and sending an email uses about 0.1MB of data. Of course, emails with attachments or pictures will use more data, depending on the file size. But, all in all, good old email tends to fall further down the list when it comes to mobile data usage. If email is your main draw on mobile data, our lower data plans should see you right.

“Logging in, reading, and sending an email uses about 0.1MB of data.”

With 250MB of data you can send 2,500 emails, and that’s some pretty speedy work.


The majority of apps require around 20MB of data to download, although this amount will vary depending on the app. Likewise, when you’re using connected apps, you’ll use about 20MB per hour. But, one good way to keep data usage down is to head into your settings and switch off cellular data for those apps you don’t need on the go. This will also stop them updating in the background, saving your battery life as well.

Pick your plan

It’s good to know the general stats, but which plan is right for you? If you’re already with us, then downloading the My Vodafone is a great place to start. This app provides an easy way to track the data and minutes you use each month and purchase an Extra if you’ve exceeded your allowance. If you’re regularly exceeding your allowance, you may need to upgrade, so consider how much you’re actually using and what might be a better fit.

“If you’re not yet on a plan, it pays to determine whether you’re a low, medium or high data user first. This will help identify the kind of plan you need.”

If you’re a low data user, you use your mobile to view web pages, check your emails, watch the odd video clip, use mobile banking and check Facebook. However, you’re unlikely to spend over an hour a day browsing the web on the go and you’re not big on downloading games or music directly to your phone. Something in our 250MB to 1GB range should be enough to see you right.

If you sync email to your phone, spend quite a bit of time online, download a few games and apps, watch a bit of YouTube and download a few songs, you’re more likely to be a medium data user. Something in our 4GB to 16GB range will ensure you to stay connected without paying for more data than you need. Plus, if you opt for the 8GB Red Entertainment bundle you’ll get a free 24-month subscription to your choice of Spotify Premium, Sky Sports Mobile TV or NOW TV.

Heavy data users should look at anything from 32GB to 60GB. To provide a bit more context, 32GB of data per month would allow you to stream 10 hours of HD TV or movies, download 3 HD movies, stream around 64 hours of music, spend a whopping 1,600 hours using connected apps (more than possible in a month) or send 320,000 emails.

Whatever your browsing style, know your data stats and be savvy about your usage. And if you’re stuck, remember you can always get in touch with a Vodafone advisor online or in person to help you make the right connection.

Find out more… about all Vodafone plans on the Pay Monthly section of our website, grab a SIM Only plan or Pay as you go and make the most of your mobile data.