Cellular Data: How much are you using?

Remember the days when every carrier out there offered you unlimited data for your iPhone, pretty much standard? Those days are all but gone now. Maybe you're grandfathered in, maybe your carrier is one of the rare few that still offers unlimited, but for the most part most carriers are now firmly fixed on tiered data with firm caps and stiff overage charges in place.

That is despite information suggesting consumers are using more data than ever on their mobile devices. According to Cisco global mobile data traffic grew 81 percent in 2013, mobile video traffic exceeded 50 percent for the first time in 2012 and while smartphones represented only 27 percent of total global handsets in use in 2013, they represented 95 percent of total global handset traffic pushing a total of 18 exabytes of traffic.

I have T-Mobile and I use a good 14 GB a month. I love using data.EmceeGeek, iMore Forums Member

But were the carriers right in the fact most people weren't using the data they were offered or did they just see the trend upward in usage and design a way to gather more money from consumers? How much cellular data are you actually using on your mobile device? According to the same report, 45 percent of total mobile data traffic was offloaded onto the fixed network through Wi-Fi or femtocell in 2013.

Have an unlimited plan, but at least 85% of that is on WiFi. So I would say about a gig.Taz323, iMore Forums Member

The question popular question in the iMore Forums right now is Cellular Data: How much are you using? It's indisputable that our iPhones, iPods, iPads and Macs are pulling down a ton of data each year but how much data are you really using from your carrier and how much are you offloading elsewhere? Through the carrier changes and device changes, have you ever had to 'up' your data plan? Let us know in the iMore Forums how much data you're using on your devices these days.

Chris Parsons

Editor-at-Large at Mobile Nations, gadget junkie, energy drinker, ranter.

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There are 36 comments. Add yours.

eahinrichsen says:

My monthly data is usually between 4.5 - 5.5 GB. My plan (Aio) allows for 7GB of LTE (capped at 8MB/s) before it's throttled down. I've never gone over the 7GB limit.

Reparkable says:

Is there anyway to restrict background app refresh to only Wifi?

jeddo45 says:

Only 1Gb, not because I can't use more, but because Sprint 3G sucks really bad.

Brought to you by the Nexus M8

Bill_Johnson says:

I'm with you. If I am not on WiFi, and have to rely on my Sprint 3G, may as well forget about it. Painfully slow. (Cleveland, Ohio area) Sometimes sending a simple IM message takes forever. Ridiculous. Come September, when our contract is up, me thinks we are done with Sprint.

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Atrain54 says:

Same here, contract is up in November and will be done with Sprint

escapedrift says:

500mb, canada data rates are far too expensive. They shouldnt sell smartphones if they have to limit the data so much.

iSRS says:

My wife and I share (an ever growing, it seems) 8 GB pool. Though I think we could drop back to 6 GB, but I prefer being safe.

BooBeeNYC says:

I use a data manager app and keep within the 2GB allotted but if I had unlimited I def would take advantage using way more. I have to read my RSS feeds and such over wifi when I can otherwise I can quickly exceed my 2GB.

goldeyedbabydoll says:

We have 4 lines on the 10 GB plan on AT&T. I use maybe 300 mb a month. I use wifi most of the time. My husband uses less than I do. My 2 kids are allowed 3 gbs each and they use all of theirs!

sting7k says:

"Remember the days when every carrier out there offered you unlimited data for your iPhone, pretty much standard?"

I remember how much AT&T's network would crumble from all the data hogs. It's so much nicer now, I can't remember the last time I had a problem with data on AT&T. I even use HSPA+ most of the time now because it's plenty fast and all the data hogging seems to happen on LTE now.

Antron says:

Still have "unlimited" data on my service!

Chuck Halverson says:

Ipad retna mini and Iphone 5 on a shared 6gb plan; using about 4 to 5 a month. It has helped tremendously that the starbucks I go to daily recently went from 14.4 baud to 50 gb/s with their new google wifi connection. Not plugging sbux btw! :-)

ungibbed says:

Have a grandfathered data plan from being a customer at T-Mobile for over a decade. LTE with my iPhone is faster than most broadband speeds in my area. On average though I would say I use around ten GB monthly over wifi hotspot usage and on my iPhone itself averages over 30Gbps alone. Netflix has never been a problem and never get shackled to edge speeds ever. Calls to my family also on LTE bands are amazingly clear without the odd radio drift sounds on 4G or 3G speeds. You could swear they were in the same car over BT sync.

AnotherCookie says:

T-mobile doesn't use LTE for calling... no provider in the US does yet. ATT plans to be the first to release VoLTE (Voice over LTE). Their call quality is quite good though where you do get reception. I would always have problems with call quality on ATT.

ungibbed says:

Tmo is using some sort of thing they call HD voice which only 4G or better phones use over AWS. Whatever technical voodoo it may be, it is amazingly clear without requiring UMA like my old BlackBerry did and Galaxy S3 after that for a clear voice call. I can tell a huge difference when he's on either using my mothers Galaxy S4 or his iPhone on Tmo vs. his work phone on Verizon. Background noise normally heard with his work phone at home are the kids playing but nothing could be understood but on the other hand on his iPhone, I can hear what they're saying instead of static.

SomeGuyWhoLikesPhones says:

I think you mean your iPhone uses over 30gb alone. Though it would be awesome to get speeds of 30gbps;-)

I remember getting like 200kbps back with my first phone, and I've been able to get up to 50mbps when I've been the only one on an LTE tower when they were testing it before it went live and had any traffic. I think it will be cool when we start seeing mobile data measured in gbps.

ungibbed says:

A simple typo in a forum of abbreviations.

30 to 40Mbps on average even with times of heavy network traffic.

Hopefully this meets your standards.

dreyfus2 says:

2 GB LTE on the iPhone 5S, 40 GB LTE on the iPad Air, both with speeds constantly between 65 and 85 Mbit/s down. Monthly cost (including all national calls, texting and Visual Voicemail) approx. 152 USD on T-Mobile Germany.

iPad data use is mainly newspapers and magazines, 2 daily newspapers at roughly 200 MB each, plus 2 weekly and 8 monthly magazines already add up to almost 20 GB per month. The rest of the usage is mixed and normally 1-2 GB left over at the end of the month.

AnotherCookie says:

13 GB so far this month on T-mobile 9 more days till my billing cycle ends :)

Mateus C says:

500MB on my iPhone and 2,5GB on my iPad. I'm often connected to wifi.

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sectionsix says:

Usually 6 to 8GB on my iPhone per month on Tmo.

melb_guy says:

I have a 1.2gb allowance per month for my iPhone, and I would use between 1gb and 1.2gb per month on the cellular/mobile network. I would love to do more when i'm not on wifi (like music streaming for example) but data is so expensive in Australia it's just not worth it.

dominicanyor says:

I use to have sprint unlimited data. Now that I'm with AT&T on a 10gb plan with my wife and kids I have to watch how much I use. It's kind of sucks because I'm always on the watch on how much I use now. If we go over our 10gb the bill goes up and that really sucks big time.

Trappiste says:

I have unlimited, so i do not monitor it too keenly. But I wager I use at least a 100GB a month if I happen to share my phone as a hot spot or stream a lot of HD content.

koltonh2002 says:

I have an unlimited (extra cost when you hit 3gb) but I don't use it all. I only use about 300-450 mb per month ;-) I love u AT&T!!! And the cellular data on 4g LTE is not just plentiful in most areas but extremely fast. When on 3G or edge, it's pretty slow. I usually stay on wifi

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koltonh2002 says:

I have an unlimited (extra cost when you hit 3gb) but I don't use it all. I only use about 300-450 mb per month ;-) I love u AT&T!!! And the cellular data on 4g LTE is not just plentiful in most areas but extremely fast. When on 3G or edge, it's pretty slow. I usually stay on wifi

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tayule says:

I'm on verizon LTE and I use about 10g of data in a month, I try to monitor my self but it doesn't work. LTE is a data hog I don't care if verizon says otherwise.

tayule says:

Also when I had unlimited 3G I used the same amount of data but I had netflix running most of my shift at work and music sometimes now on LTE I run netflix for 30 and there goes 500Mb.

tape_ says:

I'm on the grandfathered unlimited-data iPhone plan from AT&T. I use about 3.5GB/month.

Nathan Bael says:

Most months I average 7-9 gigs. I offload onto wifi at home but not work (work connection is too slow). On months where I am away from home working, I often break 20 gigs, and have even hit thirty-something once.

srekar says:

I have an iphone 5 on an airvoice wireless $10/month plan plus I use a freedompop hotspot for the free 500mb of data. I haven't come close to using over the 500mb so far.
I've been a stay at home dad for over a year so I have access to wifi most of the time.

mksudol says:

15 GB, unlimited plan and LTE in Taiwan. Just few dollars

Galley says:

I've used 35 GB since I got my iPhone 5 in June.

demontooth says:

Between 15 and 20 GB a month. T-Mobile kicks ass in my area.

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Tom Andrejko says:

I'm using about 8 to 10 gigs on Sprint. They made such improvements in my small town it's amazing. They added lte I'm getting at least 25mbps down. There 3 g network also improved to 2.5 down. I hope more people leave so I can keep enjoying great speeds. Was with vzw tmobile and att neither were this fast att T-Mobile were bad even with full bars. Very happy