What is mobile data?
First introduced back in the early days of smartphones, mobile data is a feature that allows users to access the internet without needing to connect via Wi-Fi.
Nowadays, your phone will typically use 4G or 5G technology to connect to mobile data. (Remember, 3G shutdown is coming soon, so you’d better prepare for it!)
5G is the newest type of mobile data available. If you want up-to-date tech, then be sure to check out some of the best 5G-enabled phones available today.
4G is still more common and accessible than 5G at the moment, though, and you’ll find it on most smartphones currently on the market.
What uses up mobile data?
There are lots of everyday activities that could make your mobile data usage skyrocket, including:
Browsing on search engines like Google, as well as refreshing, sending, and receiving emails, uses up mobile data in a big way. Something to keep in mind the next time you decide to do some extra work on the bus ride home, or go deep down a Wikipedia rabbit hole when you’re bored!
Certain types of messaging can also affect data usage. For example, sending and receiving iMessages on iPhones is a surefire way to diminish your allowance (the good news is you don’t need mobile data to send text messages).
Social media messaging apps like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. also use data to function when Wi-Fi is unavailable.
Any app usage without Wi-Fi means sacrificing mobile data, given their various operating needs. Video chat apps such as Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, etc. in particular require a lot of data to run efficiently.
Streaming TV episodes or movies on video apps like Netflix and YouTube - as well as listening to songs on music apps like Spotify or Apple Music - will seriously eat up your mobile data.
Fortunately, there are workarounds.
Try watching your YouTube videos in a lower quality; this will consume less data than watching them in HD.
If you’re a passionate mobile gamer, your hobby could be using up more data than you realise. In fact, gaming is one of the biggest drains on mobile data, what with all the bandwidth needed to support the rapidly changing graphics and motions on-screen.
All these activities use up different amounts of mobile data depending on how demanding they are.
Learn more about how much data different activities use up.
Reasons why you should leave mobile data on
You may wish to leave mobile data on for a variety of reasons, such as:
Turning your phone’s cellular data on and off throughout the day can be frustrating, especially if you’re busy and tend to dip in and out of areas with poor Wi-Fi.
Leaving mobile data on avoids this issue, giving you the freedom to roam however you choose.
It also comes in handy with international roaming and calling.
If you’re concerned about safety, whether it’s your own or someone else’s, having mobile data already switched on means location tracking is possible. This will come in handy if there’s ever an emergency and you need to act fast!
Having some entertainment at your fingertips while you're on the go makes those journeys on public transport whizz by.
Of course, this means keeping your mobile data on so your favourite apps run at their full capacity - no more boredom when sitting around waiting for trains in your future!
Reasons why you shouldn’t leave mobile data on
However, even though you may want to keep your mobile data on all the time so you never miss a notification, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t do this, including:
Excessive data consumption
Mobile data is used in the background by some apps. If you keep it turned on, it will still be consuming your allowance even if you’re not actively doing anything on your phone.
Things get worse if you allow your apps to update using data. You could accidentally use GBs of extra data, compared to if you just waited until you’re next on Wi-Fi.
It’s a good idea to monitor your mobile data usage, so you can keep an eye on how much you tend to use up per month. This way, you'll know when it’s best to leave mobile data on or off.
It drains your battery
Leave mobile data on and your battery will drain quicker than if it was off. There are a few reasons why this happens.
First, your phone will be constantly searching for signal. If you’re in an area with particularly poor signal, things only get worse, as your phone consumes more power while searching.
Second, your apps that use data in the background will drain your battery. When an app sends you a push notification, it needs a bit of battery to do this. Same goes for if they update in the background - it’s all extra demand on your phone and, therefore, more battery consumption.
Of course, there's plenty more you can do to make your battery last longer, but for starters, turning off mobile data when you're not using it will help!
You may have previously given apps permission to use your location data, meaning that you're unwittingly sharing your private information.
Of course, if this doesn't concern you, then there's no harm in leaving your data on all the time!
Get Unlimited data for your phone
If you regularly use mobile data, consider opting for one of our Unlimited plans.
Unlimited Speedy was £25 /mo, but you can now buy it for just £22 /mo (up to 10 Mbps). It’s great for media consumers, so if you enjoy streaming videos in HD, listening to music, podcasts and radio, and downloading and updating content, you’re onto a winner here.
However, for even more of a data boost, there’s Unlimited Superfast. Formerly £30 /mo, you can now purchase this plan for just £24 /mo (up to 150 Mbps).
Great for online gamers, film lovers and everyone in between, you’ll be able to experience 4k and live HD video streaming, seamless gaming online, and the effortless downloading of large files.
For even more value, discover great monthly bundles with Asda mobile!