Mobile data survey

We surveyed 2,007 adult smartphone users in the UK to provide a nationally representative view of how much mobile data is actually used by the UK. Here are the results we found:

How much mobile data we use

More than a third of the population admits having had to purchase additional data before their monthly plan was updated.

A quarter of the UK, or the equivalent of 10 million people, miss out on mobile data every two months and seven million people access their inclusive data every month. Meanwhile, a whopping 2.9 million people need to top up within the first ten days of their monthly allowance.

What we use mobile data on

With so many people in the UK strapped for data, what exactly are we using our data on?

Half of mobile users admit spending their money browsing the web, with 47% checking social media platforms regularly. Almost a third (30%) stream music while a quarter (24%) watch videos, movies and TV series on apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Almost seven million people (18%) say they use their mobile data due to low broadband speed at home, choosing to disconnect from their home Wi-Fi network in order to get a better connection. Of these, 2.6 million would rather attach their laptop or tablet to their mobile data hotspot rather than rely on slow Wi-Fi connections. And nearly a fifth (19%) avoided public Wi-Fi hotspots due to security concerns.

How much do we spend on mobile data

Mobile users who admit to recharging their data at least once every two months have an average spend of £ 17.41. That’s an additional £ 384million per year on top of their monthly fee for staying online!

Brighton residents are the UK’s biggest spenders throughout the year, completing an additional £ 115 on average, which is more than double those in Plymouth who part with an additional £ 43.75 once their mobile data allowance runs out.

Figures show men spending 53% more on more data, averaging £ 19.80 per recharge in the UK, compared to women buying £ 12.88 per recharge. Millennials (25-34) spend the most on additional data, with an average top-up of £ 20.26, closely followed by 35-44 year olds who add an additional £ 19.94 to their phone bill.

Tips for saving mobile data

You can reduce your mobile data usage in several ways:

  1. Download services over Wi-Fi to be able to use offline apps. Home broadband hotspots or public Wi-Fi let you download everything you need before you go and upgrade to 3G, 4G or 5G networks.

  2. Avoid streaming shows on long journeys. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer all allow you to download programs over Wi-Fi. So as long as you have enough storage space on your smartphone, you can put away all the shows you want to watch without having to use it. none of your data. This is particularly convenient for long train journeys, where access to the 4G network can be spotty.

  3. Plan your trips before you travel. Spotify and Apple Music let you download music offline so you can listen to playlists, albums, and podcasts without having to stream them. Not only will it save data, but your battery life will also thank you because it won’t have to work as hard pulling information over the network.

  4. Use Airplane mode when using Google Maps. Google Maps allows you to download entire towns, cities and regions, which means you can use your phone in Airplane mode and still go from A to B. This is especially useful when you are traveling abroad and you fear being caught off guard. data roaming charges.

  5. Upgrade to a data plan that works best for you. Many mobile network providers now offer plans with included non-data services or data transfer plans. Compare our SIM only offers and our best contract phone deals to make sure you get a mobile data plan that’s right for your browsing needs.

For even more data saving tips, check out our Internet data allowances guide.


Please note: The mobile data calculator provides an estimate of how much mobile data you might need. This estimate should only be used as a guide and not as a recommendation. When purchasing a mobile data plan, you should consider a plan that best suits your needs with a small surcharge for unexpected downloads.

Calculations: All calculations are based on the following:

Web browsing = 2.33MB per page (Source: Uswitch)

E-mails = 0.10 MB per e-mail (Source: Uswitch)

Video streaming = 644MB per hour (Source: Uswitch)

Music streaming = 80MB per hour (Source: Uswitch)

Exercise = 0.5 MB per hour (Source: Strava)

Cards = 5 MB per hour (Source: Uswitch)

Games = 43 MB per hour (Source: Uswitch)

Social media:

WhatsApp = 0.0007 per message (Source: Uswitch)

YouTube = 3.23MB per minute (Source: Uswitch)

Facebook = 2.05MB per minute (Source: Wire)

Twitter = 6MB per minute (Source: Canstar Blue)

Snapchat = 2.67MB per minute (Source: Whistle)

Instagram = 1.67MB per minute (Source: Proximus)

Other = 2.13 per minute (Source: Average of Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram)

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