The Truth About Which Apps Use the Most Phone Data
This guide breaks down how much data the streaming, social media, and music apps on your phone use each hour. Plus, get tips for reducing your data use.
We’ve become so accustomed to using our smartphones for every little task that we can be blindsided by our own data usage. However, it can be quite simple to keep track of which apps are taking up more than their fair share of your monthly data plan.
For those who don’t want to subscribe to an unlimited plan, this guide will provide all the information you need to understand, track, and reduce your overall data usage.
How Much Data Do Streaming Service Apps Use?
Using streaming services to watch your favorite shows and movies on the go is one of the fastest and easiest ways to use up cellular data.
Here are five of the most popular streaming services and the amount of data they are likely to use:
- Netflix: Netflix will use up to 3 GB of data for every hour of streaming in high definition (HD), about 0.7 GB/hour in standard definition (SD), and only 0.3 GB/hour in low definition.
- Max: Streaming in HD will use about 2.25 GB/hour. Streaming in 4K will use up to 22.5 GB/hour.
- Disney+: Disney+ offers three streaming quality options: SD (up to 0.7 GB/hour), HD (up to 2 GB/hour, and 4K UHD (around 7.2 GB/hour).
- Amazon Prime Video: Amazon Prime Video can be streamed in SD at 0.45 GB/hour or in HD at 2.25 GB/hour.
- ESPN+: For sports fans using the app, data usage comes out to a little less than 1 GB/hour.
How to Reduce Data Usage While Streaming
While every app is likely to use a different amount of data, lowering the video quality of your stream will significantly reduce the data usage, regardless of what streaming app you use.
While having a crisp, clear picture is ideal, switching from 4K UHD to SD will help you save data.
How Much Data Do Social Media Apps Use?
With the mindless scrolling and frequency at which most people check their social media profiles, social apps use a lot of data.
Here’s a closer look at some of the most popular social apps:
- Instagram: A recent test by GuidingTech found that the app used about 500 MB of mobile data per hour. However, the amount of data actually used depends on whether you are watching reels and stories or simply scrolling through posts.
- TikTok: Given that TikTok solely hosts video content, the app is more likely to use up a significant portion of your monthly data plan. When in default data usage mode, TikTok uses about 840 MB (just under 1 GB) hourly.
- Facebook: Recent figures show Facebook uses a similar amount of data to Instagram, totaling just under 500 MB/hour. Although this largely depends on the amount of video content you consume while on the app.
- Twitter: Compared to other platforms, Twitter consumes a relatively small amount of data. An hour on Twitter will use, on average, about 360 MB of cellular data.
- Reddit: Frequent Reddit users may be surprised to learn it’s one of the most data-hungry apps out there, using more data per minute than many streaming services. Some users have reported the Reddit app using up to 20 MB/minute, meaning well over 1 GB/hour, but statistics may vary.
How to Reduce Data Usage on Social Media
Many social media apps offer built-in app settings to reduce monthly data usage. For example, on both Facebook and Twitter it is possible to stop auto-playing videos, which can be a major source of data usage.
On Instagram there is an option to “Use Less Data” in the Settings menu which prevents preloading videos and images.
How Much Data Do Music Streaming Apps Use?
Whether you use Spotify, Apple Music, or another music streaming platform, these services tend to be some of the most commonly used on the go. But how much data does an hour of streaming music really use?
- Spotify: With Spotify, you can listen to up to 33 hours of music using cellular data before you use 1 GB!
- Apple Music: iPhones use about 15 MB for every 10 minutes, or just under 100 MB/hour of listening.
- Pandora: Pandora only uses about 23 MB/hour with standard settings and 58 MB/hour with the high-quality option.
How to Reduce Data Usage While Streaming Music
Being able to access all your favorite music on the go is one of the great conveniences of the streaming era. But if you don’t have an unlimited data plan, streaming music can cause you to blow past your data limit.
One of the easiest ways to reduce mobile data usage while streaming music is to simply download songs using WiFi. Listening to downloaded music requires no data whatsoever.
How to Check Data Usage on an iPhone in 3 Easy Steps
Here’s how iPhone users can check how much data they have used so far this month:
- Open Settings from your home screen.
- Navigate to the “Cellular” tab, which will be located near the top of the Settings menu. Users with a U.K. English keyboard will select “Mobile Data.”
- Scroll down to view the “Cellular Data Usage” section. This will be divided into two sections: “Current Period,” which tells you how much data you have used since your last billing cycle, and “Current Period Roaming,” which reflects data usage while roaming abroad.
How to Check Data Usage on an Android in 5 Easy Steps
Here are the steps for Android phone users trying to determine their data usage:
- Open Settings in your app drawer.
- Navigate to and select the “Network & Internet” option, which should be at the top of your Settings menu.
- Select the “SIMs” option, which will provide information about your specific cellular data plan.
- Select the “App Data Usage” option.
- From here, you should be able to check the set billing cycle, total data consumption within that period, and the specific consumption by each installed app.
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