Whether you’re buying your first smartphone, or you are in the market for a new service plan, figuring out how much data you’ll need is an important thing to consider. These days, the world runs on data, and making sure you have enough to get the most out of your phone — while not paying for more than you need — is an important balance to find.
When it comes to plans, the best size is directly correlated to how you use your data. Is your phone primarily used for email and social media? You can probably get away with a smaller data plan. Using your device as a game console or for video streaming? You’ll want to opt for a larger — even unlimited — plan. Below, we’ve given you some numbers to work with, so you can see exactly how much data certain tasks use up and get a real sense of what your monthly data needs will be. We’ll also breakdown the plans available from each of the four major U.S. phone companies.
Updated 06-20-2015 by Brendan Hesse: Updated to reflect new data use averages for apps and operations, as well as current data plans offered by Sprint, Verizon, At&T and T-Mobile.