Smartphones have become the most popular way to access online information, taking over from laptop computers in recent years. It is estimated that in the UK smartphone users spend on average two hours a day accessing websites via a mobile phone. However there is a cost to be paid when we access social networks such as Facebook, watch movies online, check our emails or use Whatsapp to keep in touch with friends and family. That cost is related to the mobile phone contract chosen by the customer.
Every mobile phone contract comes with a data allowance varying from 100 MB to 5 GB. It’s important to know whether an allowance suits a user’s individual needs, since exceeding the monthly allowance can be an expensive mistake. Too far under the given limit and customers are not getting value for money and would be better off choosing a cheaper package. Some providers offer unlimited allowances on monthly contracts, but these are an expensive option and only really suitable for users who need to access large quantities of music or video.
It’s a simple process for smartphone users to check their usage in a particular month, either by logging onto a mobile phone provider’s website or by using an app dounloaded onto their phone. This will show the usage for the current and previous months, enabling phone users to see at a glance whether they are on the most cost-effective plan. Some providers such as Giffgaff have an online calculator that customers can use to estimate their Internet use on activities such as web browsing, email, apps, video and music. Once the information has been added the calculator will work out the most suitable package to suit a customer’s needs, helping to save them money.
The good news is that surfing the web uses relatively small amounts of network traffic. It is estimated that using the web for an hour a day will only amount to approximately 700 MB a month. Smartphone users need to take care with mapping or navigational apps which can download content automatically over 3G or 4G. Fans of Facebook and Instagram can happily continue to access these services, but uploading photos or video is best done on a WiFi connection.
Accessing emails regularly should not cause any problems but downloading large attachments such as photos can quickly eat up the allowance. The most expensive online activities are undoubtedly streaming music and video. Accessing an online service such as Spotify to download music will eat up large amounts of data.
Using a smartphone for activities involving streaming music or video on a regular basis will rapidly use up the most generous data allowance, resulting in unwelcome additional costs. Therefore the best strategy is to carry out these online activities at home or at a hotspot using a WiFi connection. The solution is to choose the phone package that suits your online life, taking care to stay within the limits set by your operator.