Knowledge Base

How Much is 3GB of Data On A Smartphone? - Will You Need More?

mad scientist

Smartphone usage has changed. We’re spending less time calling and texting our friends and family, and putting more time into internet messaging and social media. But how much is enough data on a smartphone? Is 3GB of data enough, or will you need more?


In this blog, I wanted to provide some valuable stats to help answer this question. Learn more about exactly how much 3GB of data will get you by reading through the information in this article. If you feel like you can squeeze by with just 2GB instead, read about that here.


If you don’t want to calculate the information yourself, you can always use giffgaff’s data usage tool to get a rough estimation on what data plan would be best for you.

Understanding How Much Mobile Data You Use

Before you can find out how much data you need on your smartphone, you need to look at which apps you use the most and your usage stats within these apps.


Here’s a look at each of the categories we’ll be covering:


  • Social media/image sharing (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc)
  • Internet messaging (Messenger, WhatsApp, KIK, etc)
  • Music Streaming (Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, etc)
  • Video Streaming (Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc)
  • Other applications (games, utility apps, etc)


Once you’ve read each section below, you should have a solid idea about how much mobile data is right for you.

How Much Mobile Data Does Social Media Use?

You might not think that social media will use much mobile data, especially in comparison to listening to music or watching videos, but it can be a surprisingly quick way to eat through data.


On average, you’ll be using roughly 100MB per hour of browsing. The average daily social media time sits at 135 minutes, but usually the amount you browse social media whilst on mobile data is far less.


You also need to consider how much data you use by uploading images, videos, and Instagram/Snapchat stories. Here’s an overview of the stats.




 You can use the graphic above to work out how much data you need each month:


  • Consider how many hours you spend browsing on social media on the average day.
  • Multiply that number by 30 to get the full month.
  • Multiply monthly hours by 100MB to work out the data usage for your average month.
  • Consider how many photos you upload each month as well.

How Much Data Do Instant Messaging Apps Use?

Now that we’ve covered our usage for social media, it’s time to work out our usage for instant messaging. Fortunately, data usage for this category is far less. Keep in mind that these are just averages. We’ll be taking a look at sending messages, making calls, and FaceTiming/doing video calls.


The app you use for instant messaging may mean your data usage varies slightly, but it should still give you a good idea about the kind of rough data usage you can expect.


Data usage for sending and receiving messages is relatively low. With a 3GB data plan, you shouldn’t worry about instant messages.


You should, however, be considerate about how much you use instant messaging apps to make video and voice calls. Below is some information on how much data this can use up.




The average video and voice call won’t cut into your data allowance much, but an hour a day can easily add up. You can look at your IM app call history to learn about your average hourly usage per month and use that to find out how much data you can expect to use.

How Much Data Do Music Streaming Apps Use?

 Music streaming apps can take up quite a lot of data usage, especially if you’re regularly listening to music.


In this section, we’ll explain how much data you can expect to use on a monthly basis by looking at your own music listening time as a basis.


To save data, make sure you have your streaming quality whilst on cellular data as low as possible. You can also save data costs by downloading your favorite songs and albums for offline listening.


With all that in mind, here’s a look at how much data music streaming apps uses. On average, 1 hour of listening equals 40-150MB of data. Below is a breakdown of the stats.




You can use the above information to work out your monthly data usage costs for music streaming.


  • If you listen to 1 hour of music a day, you could use 1.2GB a month
  • If you listen to 3 hours of music a day, the cost goes to 3.6GB
  • You can save data by downloading music at home.
  • Double check the settings menu to ensure your cellular stream quality is lowered to save data

How Much Data Does Video Streaming Use?

As expected, video streaming can be a very quick way to eat up all of your data usage.


I’d like to mention that it’s best to save your wallet and leave the Netflix sessions for when you’ve got a WiFi signal to connect to.


Every now and again it’s nice to have the option to watch content on the go, though, so here’s an overview of how much mobile data you can expect to use per hour of video streaming content.


Please keep in mind that these are averages. The data usage can vary slightly from app to app.





Because of the data that video streaming uses, I’d suggest you’d need more than 3GB per month to get by.

What About Data Usage for Other Apps?

Fortunately, the data usage for things like multiplayer games and utility apps is very little.


As long as you download the app and open it for the first time at home, you shouldn’t run the risk of going over a 3GB monthly allowance. It’s hard to gauge how much data you’ll use from multiplayer apps or apps that require constant internet access, such as a web browser.


Putting 1GB aside should give you enough to browse freely without worry. This would also give you a buffer for when you use more data than you’d usually expect in a month for things like music streaming, video streaming, or social media.

Summary And Picking The Right Data Plan

If you’ve made it this far, you should hopefully know how much data you need each month. Here’s a recap of what has been covered.


  • Steps to calculate your social media data usage
  • Steps to calculate your IM app usage
  • Calculation for music streaming
  • Calculation for video streaming apps
  • Final 1GB buffer for extra apps like your games and your web browser


After going through the calculations, how much data do you need? Hopefully, your usage will fall into one of the data plans listed below.


The costs for mobile data usage keeps dropping. What’s better is that at giffgaff, you can choose monthly plans known as goodybags that won’t tie you to a lengthy contract. Here’s a look at what giffgaff offers.



You can buy goodybags on a month-to-month basis and if your usage changes you can choose a more suitable plan the next month.


I hope this information has proven to be useful. If you have any questions about general data usage, let me know by leaving a comment and I’ll try my best to help.



ollie_1.jpgOllie (zerodudex333) is a big mobile/tech fan. He posts blogs on Monday and Tuesday Mornings.

Follow his Twitter and his Instagram travel account.




What are you waiting for?

Order your free SIM See our SIM-only deals

It's such a lottery finding a 3/4G signal on any network that usage can vary greatly.


If you travel a lot, definitely will need more than that.


I personally do not use much data.



Very handy. Thanks for that


Useful guide. Wi-Fi is pretty freely available in a fair amount of coffee shops and other places now so it can relieve the burdon on your data allowance (but use a VPN!) quite significantly. Tend to download video and music content at home via Wi-Fi too.


Keep a note of what you actually use on a month by month basis and then adjust your goodybag/monthly tariff accordingly.


Very handy guide, thanks for the great blog. My work doesn't  have WiFi anymore, so my music streaming uses my data... Plus daily 55 mile commute (110 mile return) Google maps... These normally easy most of my data. But 3GB is normally enough for me... The extra +1GB data buffer giffgaff are giving us perfect for me! 😊📱😁👍🏽


If your map app allows you to download and store map data on your phone, I suggest you do that on your home wifi on a regular basis rather than stream it live every time you commute. Smiley Wink



I don't use much mobile data and only turn it on when necessary.

My phone is set to update only on WiFi only and I tend to use it the most when at home for surfing and social media etc.

Interesting blog though. Thanks.


I have gone on a data diet i used to go for always on at £20 a month for a few years i now use a £10 goodybag with 3gb and if ineed more i wait till i can use works wifi or use it at coffee shops.

Do downloading and updating apps on wifi only.

I use a data compressing browser and addblocker.

Not using half of data now like i used to.

So using less data can be done and spending less on goodybags a month can be done.


Plus payback as credit is a bonus just for helping people that can help reduce your monthly spend to as long as you use it wisely.


Useful stuff, thanks for posting