How Much Data Do I Need?

While unlimited talk and text were once a luxury, things like that are now expected out of most modern phone plans. People need to look out for whether or not they get unlimited data.

Data allows us to use our phones even when we don’t have access to a WiFi connection point. It is increasingly important that our phones have data as we become more and more mobile and reliant on our phones for personal and business affairs.

But with all the different data plans out there touting different data options, what kind of data package do you need? Here are some considerations to keep in mind when deciding on a mobile data plan for you.

How Much Cell Phone Data Do I Need?

The average smartphone user uses upwards of 30GB of data per month, and that number is quickly rising every year. Your phone does not need to use data as long as you are connected to Wifi.

However, since our phones go everywhere with us, it can be hard to make sure we are always close to a connection point. In fact, with so many plans out there offering unlimited data, it is starting to feel like checking for Wifi at all is becoming obsolete.

You can determine how much data you need by paying attention to what you are using your phone for. For example, someone who only uses a phone to call and text will use a fraction of the data that someone who streams video will use.

To put that into perspective, 35 hours of streaming music would use up a gigabyte of data, while an hour of watching YouTube could burn through a gigabyte and a half. Knowing your usage habits will inform how you approach mobile data as a whole.

How Much Data Do I Use?

While it is great to know your personal habits, you can also just check your phone to see how much data you are using and which apps are using it. The process for doing this is simple and fairly similar on both Apple and Android.

Checking Your Data Usage on an Android

To check your data usage on your Android phone, do the following:

  1. Open your phone and go to the settings application.
  2. Click on ‘Network and Internet.’
  3. Select the ‘Mobile’ button to see all of your data usage for the period.
  4. Select ‘Mobile data usage’ to go deeper and see a complete overview of your data usage trends and habits.

Checking your Data Usage on an iPhone

To check your data usage on your iPhone, do the following:

  1. Open your phone and go to the settings application.
  2. Click on ‘Cellular.’
  3. Select the ‘Current Period’ button to see all of your data usage for the period.
  4. Scroll down to see the internet usage of every app on your phone.

Why Check My Usage?

Checking your usage gives you a very realistic idea of how much data you are personally using. While data usage has agreed upon averages, everyone consumes technology differently.

If you are in a position where you want to cut down on data usage, this is a great way to see what you are using. Alternatively, it could be an opportunity to determine whether or not you need to upgrade to a plan that allows for more data or even unlimited data.

Best Data Plans for Different Kinds of Users

Because everyone uses data differently, telecommunications companies have created different plans to fit different types of people. Some are built around people who only need a little to get through the month, while others are built for people who plan to consume data full-time. Knowing which category you fit into will allow you to get the best possible value for your money.

Best Plan for Data Hogs

The T-Mobile Magenta Max plan is the answer for the consumer who goes through data 24/7 and needs the biggest data plan on the market. Most premium mobile plans include the option for high-speed data, but there is a cap that slows your speed down if you go past it.

While the other Magenta plans include this, the Magenta Max does not. With the Magenta Max plan, you get unlimited data that will not slow down. Whether streaming video or just using low-intensity apps, your cost will be the same.

Because you get so much data, the price point is very steep. For a single line, this costs $85, which is a lot more expensive than plans that do not have unlimited premium data. Another reason to check your data usage is to make sure you aren’t buying more data than you need.

Other plans provide you with 50-100GB of data, and that will be more than enough for many people. If you are going to go for a premium option like the Magenta Max plan, make sure you plan on using that much data.

Best Plan for Entertainment

There are two things to consider when it comes to entertainment: the amount of data you get and the entertainment platforms that come with the plan. The Verizon 5G Get More plan is a great combination of these things. The Verizon 5G plan offers unlimited premium data and a solid 50GB of hotspot data. For a single line, this plan is also very expensive at $90, making it another option that you need to be sure about before you commit to it.

Where the plan excels is in its extra entertainment options. With the Get More plan, you can access Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, Hulu, TravelPass, Apple Music, 600GB of Verizon Cloud storage, and either Apple Arcade or Google Play.

The sheer breadth of content makes this the best plan for entertainment. The subscriptions you get from this plan are not limited to your phone, meaning that you have complete access to these entertainment platforms.

Best Cheap Unlimited Data Plan

If price is your primary concern, consider the Mint Mobile unlimited plan. Mint does not come with the perks of bigger companies like Verizon or T-Mobile but instead opts to provide network access at the lowest possible price. The Mint Mobile unlimited plan costs $30 per month if you get three months, and it comes with unlimited talk and text, nationwide coverage, and 35GB of premium data.

It is important to note that after the 35 GB of data, your speeds will slow down; however, the data is still unlimited. For a fraction of the price of a bigger plan, you can get all of the main amenities minus the bells and whistles. This plan won’t be for people who intend to stream video constantly, but for people who just use their data to browse the internet or use some apps, this plan does everything it is asked to.

How To Use Your Data More Efficiently?

Sometimes the answer isn’t to buy more data but instead to learn how to use data more efficiently. You can employ many methods to cut down on your data use significantly. Doing so opens up options regarding which data plans can fit your needs, allowing you to purchase cheaper plans.

Efficient data use does not necessarily mean giving up apps you like but instead learning how to get the most out of your data plan.

There Are Many Ways To Use Up Your Data

The biggest offender is streaming video. Streaming becomes more and more intensive as video quality increases. Streaming video uses up a ton of data, and you can easily go through dozens of gigabytes in a week if you aren’t careful. This is especially true with live streaming, which has become more common in an era where people meet virtually all the time.

Another big data user is uploading or downloading things. Watching videos is one thing, but downloading videos or even music takes a huge toll on your data. Sometimes our mail apps spend a lot of data uploading or downloading, so check out the usage levels on your mail apps when you find yourself using a lot of data.

A problem area for some people is games. Playing games on your phone can also kill your data levels, as many of them require a constant internet connection. These also drain your battery, so it is important to make sure your device and phone plan are equipped for games before using your device too much for gaming.

You Can Reduce Data Usage by Not Using Certain Services

Moderation is the name of the game when it comes to limiting your data use. The most important thing you can do is prioritize finding WiFi connection points wherever you go.

If you use WiFi for downloading and streaming instead of your data, you will save a ton of space. None of the above activities is a problem if you perform them while connected to WiFi, meaning you can limit your high-intensity activities to your personal space without consequence.

It could also be a good idea to limit downloading in general in high quantities, as this kills so much of your allotted data. Doing this exclusively at home can be a big help. For example, downloading music and videos for a big flight at home instead of waiting in the airport terminal could save you several gigabytes of data.

You are also utilizing other devices than your mobile phone for certain activities, such as downloading content to your laptop so that it shares the entertainment burden with your mobile device.


The question of how much data you need is not easily answered because everyone is different. Some people will not be content unless they have a meaty unlimited plan with premium data that will never run out so long as they keep up with their subscription. Other people will be perfectly fine with a modest plan and a routine of checking for WiFi regularly and doing high-intensity activities at home.

Mobile plans like the T-Mobile Magenta Max and Verizon Get More plan will provide countless hours of data-driven entertainment. At the same time, companies like Mint Mobile offer cheap unlimited data at lower speeds. Take a look at your own mobile data usage to figure out which option is best for you.

Visit Navi for more information on choosing the best data plan for you.


'Alarming' unlimited data usage: 31.4 GB per month and rising | Fierce Wireless

Cell Phone Plans: How Much Data Do You Really Need? | NerdWallet

Use cellular data on your iPhone or iPad | Apple Support

Choose the T-Mobile Magenta Max Plan | T-Mobile

Verizon Unlimited Data Plans for Talk & Text, Now with 5G | Verizon

The Mint Mobile Unlimited Plan | Mint Mobile

Common Reasons for High Data Usage | Wireless Customer Support