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It’s easy to figure out how much talk time or SMSs you need, but it can be a little more confusing to figure out how much data you need.

When using a smartphone or tablet, you need data to be able to connect to the internet, check emails, use chatting apps such as WhatsApp, watch videos and use maps. But each of these use different amounts of data, and it’s important to understand this when deciding on a package.

What uses the most amount of data?

Video, online gaming and streaming music

These are the most data-intensive activities and will use a lot of data very quickly. While estimates vary, expect to use about 200MB per hour. Video-chatting using apps such as Skype or Viber is also very heavy on data. 

Social media and chatting apps

If you’re a Facebook and Twitter junkie, don’t despair, as social media and chatting apps use very little data. You can check your timeline, update your status and instant message friends, and you’re only likely to use around 30MB an hour. Do be careful of sharing or uploading photos and videos as the large file size will eat into your data.

Browsing the web

An hour spent browsing the internet on your phone will use about 10MB, making it a relatively low data-usage activity. Watch out for websites that prompt you to download files, such as a PDF menu on a restaurant site, as this will use more data.


You could send and receive 5 000 emails a month and only use 100MB. But there is a catch: emails with large attachments such as photos or other files will use up data if you download them. If data is a concern, but staying in touch is critical, check your email on your phone and view downloads when you’re back in the office.

If you know you have to download large files to your phone, rather wait until you’re able to connect to a Wi-Fi network, either at home or in the office, to avoid an unexpected shock when you get your bill at the end of the month. 

What type of user are you?

Occasional user: You don’t use your phone to go online often, but do check Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and send a few emails.
What you’ll need: 100MB

Daily internet user: You’re online most of the day on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and send loads of emails.
What you’ll need: 1GB

Super internet user: The internet is your main source of entertainment and you spend lots of time online watching videos, listening to music and on social networks.
What you’ll need: 2GB 

Vodacom’s useful data calculator  gives you a helpful estimate of how much data you’ll need and which monthly data bundle you should consider. A data bundle gives you a set amount of data for a set price. This means there’s a fixed cost for a certain quantity of data – for example 100MB, 250MB, 500MB or more. When you buy a data bundle, you benefit from highly discounted rates versus simply using your airtime. 

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