mobile data

A Comprehensive Guide to Mobile Data


Being able to access and communicate through digital channels by harnessing the power of mobile data seems more like a futuristic approach, often depicted in Hollywood movies. However, this is the reality that we presently live in. The advent of the internet is perhaps the most groundbreaking innovation in the history of mankind. 

Pairing this innovation with smartphones has unlocked new possibilities for the modern man as every objective can now be fulfilled with a single click of a button. Be it browsing the web for information, streaming audio and video content, accessing maps for navigation, or playing your favourite online games, mobile data helps us to stay connected throughout.

But what is mobile data? How does it work? Contrary to its popularity, most people around the world are unaware of the fundamental concepts concerning cellular data. For better understanding, we have debunked the entire notion of mobile data in the sections below. Let’s dive right into it!

What is Mobile Data?

Mobile data, also known as cellular data, is the ability of your smartphone to use the internet without being dependent on any wired server. Mobile phone users can effectively use internet amenities on the go with the help of cellular data provisions. 

Smartphones use wireless connections in the form of 3G, 4G, and 5G to send and receive information. This technology has already been implemented across the United Kingdom, making it significantly easier for the general public to access the internet from their independent mobile phones.

Megabytes [MB] and Gigabytes [GB] are the standard measuring metrics of cellular data. A Gigabyte comprises 1000 Megabytes, as every mobile plan starts with a minimum allocation of 1 GB data. The mobile allowances preferred are conventionally segregated between SIM-only and PayG plans. Users are required to either stick to a compact plan, which provides a specific amount of data extending for a month or choose instant top-up plans when the data allowance expires. The establishment of these standards helps individuals to use mobile data anywhere.

How does Mobile Data Work?

Mobile data acts as a bridge that effectively uses radio frequencies to establish a wireless connection. Various cell towers are used as central base stations that are responsible for broadcasting uploaded or downloaded data. A cell tower or macrocell covers a vast geographical area and is in charge of interacting with other macrocells located several kilometres away. 

These cell towers can transmit data and overlap information, allowing smartphone users to access the internet with complete convenience. Multiple carrier network service providers offer cellular data amenities by incorporating the 3G, 4G, and 5G technologies, identified as different mobile network “generations.”

What Uses Mobile Data on a Cell Phone?

Considering the ongoing trends in the telecommunications industry, almost every mobile activity requires cellular data apart from initiating conventional phone calls and SMS. The current generation is obsessed with the use of social media platforms, which require mobile data to function.

Other mobile-related activities, such as playing online games, using Google Maps for navigation, sending texts on messenger applications, streaming video content, etc., also use mobile data. However, the amount of data used significantly varies depending on the activity and the preference of the user concerned.

For example, streaming video content on platforms such as Netflix and YouTube consume the most amount of data, averaging between 300 to 500 MB per hour, depending upon the quality preferred. Whereas checking text messages on messenger applications or accessing Google Maps are more data-efficient activities that can be fulfilled with minimal data allowance.

What 1GB of Mobile Data gets you?

According to the present industry standards, the minimum amount of data that can be purchased by a user is 1 GB. Individuals can expect to use 1 GB data for around 20-30 minutes daily to fulfil their mobile usage needs. This includes checking emails, browsing through web pages, using maps for navigation, and texting peers on various messenger and social media platforms.

However, streaming videos online by using mobile data would easily burn through 1 GB in just a couple of hours. The following table provides an estimate of the overall data consumption needs for diverse mobile-related activities.

Mobile Activity Mobile Data Requirement/per hour
Google Maps 5 MB per hour
Browsing through Social Media 50 MB per Hour
Browsing Web Pages 50 MB per hour
Playing Games Online 70 MB per hour
Streaming Music Online 100 MB per hour
Streaming Video Content in HD 4 GB per hour
Streaming Video Content in 4K 7 GB per hour

Based on the observations listed above, we can deduce that a 1 GB data bundle would be ideal for individuals who only use mobile data to access maps, track emails, and browse through web pages. However, users who heavily rely on social media platforms for entertainment must opt for data bundles that offer greater data allowance.

Related Article: 1MB of Data – Everything You Need to Know

Does Cellular Data Cost Money?

Yes, smartphone users must pay a specific amount to avail cellular data amenities. Traditionally, data bundles are purchased by users on a monthly basis and are issued by various carrier networks. 

These carrier service providers ensure to work with diverse data plans to meet different objectives and requirements of the users concerned. Be sure to connect with your carrier service provider to avail more information about the data bundles on offer.

Turn Mobile Data On or Off

In order to access mobile data, users must update data settings on their smartphones. People who work with a limited data allowance throughout a month can use this option to conserve data in the long run. Follow the steps highlighted below to turn on or off mobile data.

A. On iOS

  • Unlock the iOS device and navigate to the primary settings application.
  • Scroll through and select the “Cellular” option.
  • Toggle the Cellular Data option on or off according to your convenience.

B. On Android

Android users can update the mobile data setting easily from the quick control panel. All you need to do is swipe down to access the quick menu option. Tap on the mobile data icon to activate or deactivate. However, there is an alternative way through which the cellular data setting can be changed. Follow these steps:

  • Unlock your Android device and navigate to the primary settings application.
  • Scroll down to the “Data Usage” option and select the “Mobile Data” option.
  • Toggle “On” or “Off” according to your preference.

Mobile Data vs. Background Data

Modern-day smartphones are equipped with features that aim to enhance user experience in the long run. One such feature is the Background App Refresh or Background Data option. Activating this feature enables the users to scan the latest content listed on an application. The Background App Refresh feature uses mobile data to update the information listed on an app when the user does not actively use the mobile device.

Applications constantly work on updates and refresh the content with the assistance of this feature. Your mobile device will continue to use mobile data in the background when you do not directly interact with the phone. Activating the Background Data feature allows the user to receive instant updates and notifications as they no longer need to refresh application pages to access fresh content.

Interesting Read: Background App Refresh – A Detailed Overview

Turn Background Data On or Off

The precise term “Background App Refresh” is only identified in iOS devices. However, Android users also have a similar feature that allows them to update applications in the background. Follow the steps highlighted below to activate or deactivate the Background Data feature.

A. On iOS

iOS users have multiple options to choose from when it comes to updating the Background App Refresh setting. The first option allows the users to activate the setting while being connected to only Wi-Fi. Working with this setting helps users conserve data while having complete access to Wi-Fi, either at home or at work.

The second option helps the user to access fresh content with activated mobile data and Wi-Fi. The final option is to completely deactivate the Background Data feature regardless of the network amenities available. Here is how you can update the setting:

  • Unlock the iOS device and navigate to the main settings menu.
  • Scroll through and tap on the “General” option.
  • Click on the Background App Refresh option and update the setting according to your preference.
  • Choose to either – Switch it off entirely, Limit the feature to only Wi-Fi, or keep it activated for both cellular data and Wi-Fi.

B. On Android

Android users also have two options to work with when it comes to updating the Background App Refresh feature. Activating the Data Saver Mode entirely disables the Background Data feature. Here is how you can activate the Data Saver mode:

  • Tap on the main settings application and check the menu.
  • Scroll down and select “Network and Internet”.
  • Click on Data Save and toggle “On” or “Off” according to your preference.

Android users can also customise the Background Data feature and limit its requirement to only a few applications. Follow these steps to activate:

  • Unlock your Android device and navigate to the main Settings menu.
  • Scroll through and select the “Apps” option.
  • Select the applications that you wish to restrict the Background Data feature.
  • Now select the “Mobile Data” option.
  • Toggle “On” or “Off” to update.

How to Save Mobile Data?

Effectively managing your data is key to keeping track of your phone bills. Ensure to implement the following tips to conserve mobile data in the long run.

A. Use Wi-Fi Whenever Available

Having access to Wi-Fi is key to saving data. Users must consciously make an effort to switch to Wi-Fi when available so that they do not exhaust their mobile data allowance while scrolling through social media. Therefore, whenever you are home, at work, or at the gym, toggle the Wi-Fi option and continue working.

It is recommended to keep the Wi-Fi option activated throughout, as the network automatically updates when you are near a familiar Wi-Fi signal. Moreover, users must also develop a habit of downloading online content while having access to Wi-Fi amenities. This practice will help you to enjoy your favourite shows and listen to your preferred musical genre while being on the move.

B. Switch Carrier

Collaborating with a carrier network that not only provides enhanced connectivity and reach but also makes the aspect of purchasing data bundles affordable is paramount. Therefore, be sure to conduct thorough online research to identify carrier firms that offer data solutions compatible with your independent needs.

C. Deactivate Background App Refresh

Disabling the Background App Refresh feature is a productive method to conserve data. Users can activate the Data Saver mode to limit Background Data usage. Customising, updating, and restricting the feature to a limited application should also be considered.

D. Update Streaming Quality Settings

Social media and Video streaming platforms are the primary culprits to excessive data consumption. All social media platforms stream high-quality video content, which consequently demands more data usage. 

Therefore, updating the video and audio quality setting to “Standard” can help you save a significant amount of data. While streaming music online, ensure to activate the Auto Quality setting for effective allocation of mobile data.

E. Use Data Caps

Users may also establish data caps that assign a specific data bandwidth for a particular day. Implementing this aspect will help individuals monitor their data usage patterns, allowing them to formulate data-saving plans.


With this, we have successfully covered all the facets related to mobile data. Joining hands with a proficient carrier network can help you to manage your data allowance systematically. Being able to avail maximum data allowance at nominal pricing points is something that no one wants to miss out on.

Talk Home Mobile is a standard setter within the United Kingdom, offering the widest network reach, infused with blistering 5G speed. With no annual hikes, the monthly 4 GB plan offered by Talk Home starts as low as £5. Embrace the 5G trend by collaborating with Talk Home Mobile.

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