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How to check how much mobile data you’re using

Are you paying too much for data you’re not using?

Alex Kidman
Aug 31, 2023
Icon Time To Read4 min read

With most mobile plans offering unlimited standard calls and texts within Australia, the battleground for value has shifted towards data inclusions for most plans.

More data at the same price on the same network – whether you’re using one of the big three of Telstra, Optus or Vodafone/TPG, or an MVNO – represents better value, but only if you’re not paying for data you’re not using.

The trick here is to check how much data you’re typically using on a monthly basis on your mobile plan. For most of us, our phones will wander between Wi-Fi networks at work and home and the wider mobile internet, and you might think that would make determining your mobile data usage nearly impossible.

Thankfully, this isn’t the case, with both Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS offering easy tools to show you how much mobile data you’ve used recently across all of your apps… with a couple of catches worth bearing in mind.

Already need a higher mobile data plan? Here’s a selection of top value plans with at least 20GB of data per month to choose from:

How can I tell how much mobile data my iPhone is using?

For users of Apple’s iOS, you’ll be able to find your mobile data usage statistics within the Settings app on your phone. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Open the Settings App
  • Tap on Mobile
  • Scroll down to just under the eSIM section, where you’ll find your mobile data usage.

iOS will show you your usage for both standard and mobile data roaming in the current period as a complete figure, as well as per application… but there’s a catch. The “current period” in this case is just the timeframe since you last reset the counter, which means for many of us it won’t give you a good monthly figure, just all the data you’ve pretty much ever used since you first dropped your SIM into the phone.

There is a way around this, but it requires a little bit of discipline. At the very bottom of this screen, if you scroll down past every app that’s used mobile data, you’ll find an option to reset your statistics. Do this at the start of your billing period, and you can easily track how much you’re using over that time.

Megaphone

Tip: To get past this issue on a rolling basis, set a calendar reminder to reset your usage on a monthly basis (or 28 days, or however long your refresh cycle is for your plan).

How can I tell how much mobile data my Android phone is using?

Android offers the same basic tools as iOS, but the flexibility of the Android system means that different phone makers will throw the data usage stats for their phones in slightly different places. As an example, if you have a Google Pixel phone, then this is what you need to do:

  • Open Settings
  • Tap on Network & Internet
  • Tap on SIMs

If you’ve got a Nokia Android phone, the process is the same. Whereas if you have a Samsung phone, you may need to do this:

  • Open the Settings app
  • Tap on Network and Internet
  • Tap on Internet
  • Tap Cog next to your telco name

But for some Samsung models it’s a little simpler:

  • Open the Settings app
  • Tap on Connections
  • Tap on Data Usage

If you’re rocking a Motorola phone in your pocket, this is what you need to do:

  • Open Settings
  • Tap on Mobile Network

There’s a lot of variance, and depending on the age of your phone and both its Android version and the manufacturer specific launcher that it’s using you may find that it’s hiding somewhere just a little different even for the brands listed above.

Bullhorn

Tip: If you’re struggling, just open up the Settings app and in the search bar type in “Mobile data” – and you’ll usually find a link directly to where you can see your phone’s total data usage, as well as the usage of individual apps.

Android is generally a lot more flexible and useful when it comes to tracking your mobile data usage, however, with most models able to set start dates and billing cycles for your usage, as well as usage alert reminders at pre-set usage levels. As such, all you need to know is your plan’s data quota and when your plan cycles around and you can get easy periodical reminders of your usage.

Use your Telco’s app to track data usage

Your telco has to track your mobile data usage, and in most cases it’s pretty easy to see this figure yourself. The trick here is to download your telco’s app, sign in if required and check what it thinks you’ve used. Here’s some easy links to most of the major telcos and their associated apps for Android and iOS:

I’m always way over my mobile data quota. What should I do?

This is pretty common, given how easily videos from streaming services and social media plus gaming plus cloud backups can chew up data.

If you’re always going over quota, you’ve got a couple of choices. Both Android and iOS will show you which apps are using up the most mobile data, which can help you in identifying especially greedy apps. If you’ve got an app that’s taking more than its fair share – and especially if it’s an app you don’t use much – then uninstalling the app should help to fix your mobile data woes.

Frankly, though, that’s not much fun, especially for those apps that you rely on, whether you use them professionally, socially or just to unwind.

The smarter play is to upgrade your mobile plan to one with more data. You already know what your quota is, so you’re after a plan with a healthy data provision higher than you’re already getting. Here’s a selection of plans with at least 30GB to get you started:

Your other option if your apps are really data hungry is an unlimited data plan. Unlimited data plans typically come with a data quota at full speed and then an endless quantity of speed limited data to the end of your billing period. Here’s a selection of plans that work that way:

Your final option here is Felix mobile. Felix only has the one plan with no data quota – instead it’s shaped all of the time.

I’m always way under my data quota – what should I do?

In some ways this is a nice problem to have, because it means you’ve always got plenty of data if you did hit a period where you needed it. That being said, it’s also perhaps a sign that you’re paying too much on your mobile plan for data you don’t actually need.

Which means it’s time to grab that data figure and do a little comparison for a better deal. Here’s a selection of plans with around 10GB of data to get you started:

Alex Kidman
Written by
Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is some kind of word-generating AI from the future that somehow worked out how to sneak back in time to 1998 to start its journalism career. Across that time, including editorial stints at ZDNet, CNET, Gizmodo, PC Mag and Finder, as well as contributions to every major tech masthead, nobody has quite managed to figure out this deeply held secret. Let’s keep it between us, OK?

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