Smartphone data usage

Avoid bill shock with our data usage guide.
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01.Smartphone data usage

Smartphone mobile internet plans have come under fire lately because of exorbitant excess data usage charges. Some people have suffered “bill shock” when they discover their bill runs into the hundreds, or even thousands, because of excess mobile internet usage charges.

If you haven’t used the web on a phone before, or even if you’re a regular user, it can be hard to know exactly how much data you need each month. And it can be difficult when you’re shopping for a new smartphone to choose the most suitable data plan. Ideally you don’t want to pay for more than you need, but at the same time not opt for a plan that ends up with your own “bill shock”. The size of your data plan will obviously depend on the online services you use.

What is mobile internet?

Mobile internet is the ability to browse the net using a smartphone via (preferably) 3G, or even the much slower GPRS. A mobile internet plan is separate to the cost of phone calls with smartphone plans. The internet plans are capped and when you exceed the cap, you are penalised with an additional cost. The amount of data you use when web browsing, viewing online videos, downloading files and sending emails can exceed your quota if you’re not careful, and the cost you are charged per megabyte for data used above your cap is expensive. 

A data plan is not a phone plan

Mobile internet plans are divided up into different caps, such as 250MB, 500MB or 1GB. If you’re familiar with internet plans, these numbers will make some sense, but if you’re not, the terminology may seem foreign and you might be tempted to just opt for the cheapest plan with the smallest quota. But if you intend to use the mobile internet service daily, it might end up being cheaper to pay for a higher plan upfront as this will be far better value than paying excess usage charges.

Some mobile phone companies provide data calculators. Vodafone's MB Usage Calculator allows you to enter the number of web pages, emails and so on, so you can find out approximate data usage.

Optus also lists the number of pages, emails and so on that can be used for each data usage limit. The guide can be found here.

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