Internet on the go: which online activities use most data?

Watching videos all day long on your smartphone is the best way to drain your mobile data plan. — MeskPhotography/Shutterstock/AFP

Scrolling through your email messages or watching a show on Netflix do not require the same amount of data being downloaded. While mobile phone plans usually cap the amount of data between 20GB and 100GB per month, beware of certain uses, such as video streaming, which can drain your mobile data in no time.

Unsurprisingly, video platforms are the biggest data consumers. While they are unlimited via a fixed connection, and thus perfect for binge-watching sessions on your TV, you need to be more careful when using your smartphone or tablet if you want to save your mobile data. Indeed, an hour spent on Netflix (or Amazon Prime Video, or Apple TV+) in low resolution (SD) will use roughly 1GB of data, but it can amount to 3GB in high definition (HD) or even 7GB in very high definition (4K). Hence watching Titanic in 4K on your smartphone could very well drain your entire data plan!

YouTube uses a bit less data, but you'll still need to moderate your views on a mobile device. An hour uses roughly 500MB of data, but this figure can double if you are watching HD videos.

The most sought-after applications on mobile devices remain social media ones. Between videos, photos and your newsfeed, an hour spent on Facebook can cost you between 100MB and 150MB of data. Streaming music, via Spotify for instance, uses as much data as social media, so beware.

The trickiest to quantify are video games, because their data use depends upon many criteria (display quality, number of simultaneous players, FPS or casual game, etc). The most demanding gamers will use as much as several hundreds of megabytes per hour.

In order to keep track of your data use, mobile phone companies usually offer ways to follow it up thanks to dedicated applications. – AFP Relaxnews

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