Examples of Data usage on Smartphones

In general, a smartphone is classed as a device which runs an operating system similar to a PC and allows similar functionality. As such, this means that it is capable of running many different applications and may mean that these applications are capable of still running in the background even if not being used. What this means to you is that you may be consuming data from your allowance/bundle even when the phone is in your pocket with the screen off.

E-mail, social networking, news feeds & Sat Nav can all be responsible for background data consumption. Some smartphone operating systems (e.g. Android, Symbian, Windows phone) include social networking feeds/widgets as standard. This means that you can enter in your social networking details (e.g. Facebook, Twitter etc) and the device will continue to download updates in the background. Obviously for you, this means that you have the most up to date information when you want to check it, but this also means that you are consuming data in the background.

However, it isn’t just as simple as knowing that an application is using data, it also depends on how each application has been set up or the type of email system used. It is possible to set up a feed to update every 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour etc. The more regular the update period, the more data will be used. This is also true of e-mail, where it is possible to setup e-mail to poll more often (if not using push e-mail) and it’s also possible to choose how much is downloaded – e.g., the first few kilobytes of an e-mail or the entire mail including attachments. Again, choosing to download the entire mail and attachments will cause you to use your data allowance much more quickly. For further information visit -www.bt.com/mobiledatausage.

Unless you understand how much data is consumed on mobile devices you will struggle to understand just what you can achieve within your data bundle. While it can be easy to simply quote numbers (e.g. 1GB = 10000 web pages) in the real world this means very little.
1 e-mail (text only) 10KB
1 e-mail (photo attachment) 356KB
1 e-mail (attachment) 88KB
Typical web page look up* 400KB
1 hour online gaming 32MB
1 hour audio streaming 60MB
1 minute music 256KB
1 typical app/game/song 4MB
1 social media post with photo 157KB
1 minute streaming video 2MB
1 Digital photo upload (low res) 5MB
1 Digital photo upload(high res) 10MB
1 hour low-res video streaming 46MB
1 hour high-res video streaming 356MB
1 typical 5 min video on iTunes 30MB
1 typical 45 min TV show from iTunes 200MB
1 hour Skype phone call 56MB
1 hour Skype video chat 169MB

The table included here shows that data usage can vary massively depending on how a smartphone is used. There are many free to download applications2 on the Android marketplace which will help estimate mobile data usage. These applications enable the tracking usage on a daily, weekly and monthly basis and to set limits to help manage data usage.

We recommend that you download applications to monitor data usage and manage tasks:

  • There are many applications which are freely available to download and use which will track mobile data usage.  Those applications allow you to track usage on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, It is also possible to enter in your monthly quota (data allowance). This shows data sent and received.  This is important as it is both the sent and received data which count towards the total data used.
  • There are other apps that may help like apps to manage tasks on the phones. Some apps can normally remain open in the background and continuously connect for updates etc…so this will allow you to ensure all apps are closed and won’t continue to use your data bundle allowance.
  • These applications can currently be found free of charge on the app market place.

DATA being PUSH onto the device:

Some smartphone devices will typically come with social network and news feeds ready for you to enter your details.  Below is a table showing the default polling intervals of these feeds:

Application Polling interval
Gmail Push
Mail 15 mins
Facebook 1 hour
Peep (Twitter) 1 hour
Weather 3 hours
Stocks 1 hour


This is an example of moderate monthly usage :

  • 24 hourly polls + 1 larger daily send & receive
  • 1 x daily social networking interactions/views
  • 1 x daily 10 min browsing period
  • 1 x daily videos



Application Data used
E-mail 327.6 MB
Facebook 8.7 MB
Browsing 62.1 MB
Youtube 248.7 MB
Total 647.1 MB


An example of a heavy usage :

  • 24 hourly polls + 3 larger daily send & receives
  • 4 x daily 10 min browsing period
  • 1 x daily lookup
  • 2 x daily videos
  • 5 x daily social networking interactions/views
  • 1 x daily download
  • 3 x daily news views



Application Data used
E-mail + sync services 502.8 MB
Browsing 248.4 MB
Google maps 56.1 MB
You Tube 497.4 MB
Social Networking 43.5 MB
Music identification & downloading 334.8 MB
Other news feeds 47.7 MB
Total 1730.7 MB


Additional Information

Itemisation on your bill of GPRS by date and time has no direct relevance to when the data was actually used- hence the reason why the network do not include itemisation on the bills for GPRS.

With a call, the network commence billing at the time it was made and bill by duration. With a text they bill at the time it was sent.

With GPRS, a browser can remain open for several hours/days/weeks if you do not close it down and each web site has a different download file size. So, at what point do we bill you? It is not done by duration but kb file size. Because of this a “billing line” is created every 6th hour or when the file size reaches 3mb.

So if you have a GPRS “billing line” at 02:31am -it does not mean you were using the internet at that time in the morning. It could be your auto email settings creating a billing line or an open web browser.