What to look for when choosing a data plan for your mobile phone

What to look for when choosing a data plan for your mobile phone

Remember the days of 64k dial-up modems with which you could connect your clunky computer to the internet? Thank goodness all of that has changed and now just a few taps on your smartphone screen connects you to the entire global village in a matter of seconds. While most smartphone users can enjoy all the features of their cell phones by connecting to the internet via wifi, they do need a data plan for when they need to connect when they’re not in range of wifi network. This is why choosing the right data plan for your needs is important.

Most mobile telecommunications companies will have a wide range of options to choose from in terms of the smartphones you can get on a contract plan as well as the talk, SMS, and data plans and bundles that come with the handsets. You’ll know what to choose based on your requirements – it could be one of the following:

Data for emergencies

If you mostly use your smartphone on wifi networks at home and at work (where you spend most of your time) and you only really need to connect to the internet via 3G when you’re out of range, then a small data plan will suffice. 100 to 200 MB per month should be enough if your only out-of-wifi-range activities include email, Twitter, WhatsApp, and maybe a bit of Facebook and Instagram. You won’t be streaming movies or watching YouTube videos on this plan, so it’s not necessary to pay for data you don’t need.

Always-on data

Most mobile service providers will have a package or a deal that is shaped around the idea of the businessperson’s needs. It will likely have 200 MB to 2GB of data, which will allow you to do all the usual business stuff on your smartphone (emails, instant messaging, mobile web browsing, etc.) and even some VoIP for Skype or Facetime phone calls.

Using your smartphone as a tethered modem

You can use your smartphone as a modem to which other wifi-enabled devices can connect and use the Internet. If you travel a lot and work on your laptop, your smartphone can serve as a modem, which makes the 2GB to 10GB of data on this option highly convenient. Keep in mind that the more data you require, the more you’ll pay overall, but the less you’ll pay per MB.

Remember: If you have signed up for a contract with a fixed amount of data, check with your mobile service provider whether your account is credited with any unused data or whether, month by month, any leftover data simply falls away. If you get a data plan with a whole lot of data you don’t need, you’ll be paying unnecessarily.