Data is now the most important thing in a mobile plan.
Back in the day, people had to keep a close eye on their texts and the minutes of their phone calls, and that just doesn’t happen anymore. If you asked a Generation Z kid how many text messages they sent this month, I guarantee you they would have no idea. However, most millennials remember the pain of running out of text messages in the middle of the month.
Enough to wax the good old days: In 2021, wireless data is the staple of your mobile phone bill. The more data you have, the more expensive your mobile phone bill will be.
So let’s take a look at the difference between 1GB mobile plans and unlimited data plans to help you decide which is best for you.
What is a gigabyte?
Starting with the basics, gigabytes is a metric used to measure data usage.
One gigabyte equals 1000 megabytes, and one megabyte equals 1000 kilobytes. Do you see where this is going? Every time you stream, download or surf the internet on your phone, you are using some amount of data.
Mobile plans give you a set amount of gigabytes each month to use, and if you exceed your data allocation, you will be charged extra money. Nobody wants that.
To better understand the difference between a 1GB data plan and an unlimited plan, it is important to know how much data is used for different activities on your phone.
How much data do I use?
Essentially, every app on your smartphone uses internet data to work. As a general rule, if you are streaming, gaming or browsing any type of social media, you are using data. Here is an hourly data usage breakdown table for some of the most popular apps and activities:
- Online games: 3MB to 300MB
- Podcasts Stream: Approx. 60MB
- Internet browsing: about 2 GB
- FaceTime: Approx. 185MB
- Music streaming: about 150MB
- Snapchat: about 160MB
- YouTube: about 300MB
- TikTok: Approx. 840MB
- Instagram: about 720 MB
- Call Zoom: about 800MB
It’s easy to see how fast the data is being collected. For example, if you scroll through TikTok for an hour and FaceTimed with a friend for half an hour, you will have already used up gigabytes of internet.
Unfortunately, the most popular applications are data warehouses and were built with unlimited data in mind. If you’re trying to stick to just 1GB of data each month, you’ll want to make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi as much as possible.
Use Wi-Fi as much as you can
If you decide to use a limited data plan, Wi-Fi is your best friend. When you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network, you basically have unlimited data at your disposal.
Instead of taking data from your monthly data set, your phone will get the data over Wi-Fi. So, if you are connected to a Wi-Fi network at home, not all your smartphone activities will spend a single bit of your wireless data.
Most public places offer Wi-Fi, and it’s entirely in your best interest to connect whenever you can to conserve data.
1 GB for unlimited data
Now that we’ve figured out how data is measured and how much it’s used in popular apps, it’s time to decide what’s best between a 1GB mobile plan and an unlimited mobile plan. Obviously, the biggest difference between the two (besides the data) is the cost.
You’ll pay a fraction of the price of an unlimited plan if you choose a 1GB data plan, but you’ll need to live without constant access to your favorite apps. The need for Google Maps comes to mind when you get lost on a trip.
Let’s take a look at the price difference between the two to see if it’s worth it:
The most popular unlimited mobile phone packages
The most popular mobile phone packages with limited data
There is a pretty big difference in price between the 1GB mobile plan and the unlimited mobile plan, especially when you look at the difference over a year.
For example, you can get 1 GB of data (and unlimited chats and texts) from US Mobile for $7 per month, which will only cost you $84 over the course of the year.
The most popular (and affordable) unlimited plan is Mint Mobile, which costs $30 per month for unlimited data, chats, and texts. Over the course of a year, Mint Mobile will cost you $360.
That’s a difference of over $250 per year between an unlimited plan and a 1 GB plan.
For most people, it makes sense to pay extra money and not have to worry about data usage and, most importantly, any redundant data.
But if you want to keep your mobile costs at an absolute minimum with a 1GB plan, you can make it work as long as you connect to Wi-Fi everywhere you can.
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