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What is mobile data and why do you need it?

Posted on 28 March 2014

What is mobile data and why do you need it?

Mobile data opens a world of possibilities on your smartphone or tablet. But what is mobile data? Why do you need it? And how much do you need?

What is mobile data?

Mobile data gives you an internet connection on a smartphone or tablet without the need for Wi-Fi, meaning you can get online anywhere. Usage is measured in megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB). As a rough guide, 1MB of mobile data will let you listen to 1 minute of music on Spotify, watch 20 seconds of video on YouTube or load 6 websites. And 1GB is the same as 1,000MB.

There are two speeds of mobile data, known as 3G and 4G. 3G is slower but good enough to browse the web or send emails. 4G is much faster and is perfect for watching videos, listening to music and quickly loading maps when you’re lost.

Why do you need mobile data?

If you want access to emails while on the move, keep on top of Facebook wherever you are, or simply entertain yourself with music, books and videos while on the train, you definitely need mobile data.

How much mobile data do you need and should you get 3G or 4G?

This really depends on your usage. If you need it for work, the chances are you’ll be sending emails and browsing the web. For that type of use, a 500MB allowance should be enough and 3G speeds would be plenty.

If you think you’ll use mobile data for leisure - things like streaming music, videos and games - then we’d recommend you get a minimum of 1GB data, and even then you’d need to be careful with video streaming. And it would be best to get a 4G plan as it makes movies and music noticeably better.

And don’t forget to think about how you’ll use your mobile data in the future. The average person’s usage goes up by 150 per cent every two years. So if you use 500MB now, you could find yourself needing more than 1GB before the end of your contract.

You can learn more about the next great phones, even before they’re announced, on our Launchpad Rumour pages. Or, head over to our YouTube channel to keep up with what’s happening in the mobile world. We’ll be at the best technology shows, get you all the news about the latest phones, and post video reviews of our favourite gadgets.

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