The apps that finally pushed me past my data plan’s limit

For the first time in years, maybe ever, I maxed out the data plan on my phone. Fortunately, racking up 3.68 gigabytes of data when I’d only paid T-Mobile for 3 GB didn’t cost me anything–the leftover data from earlier months socked away in my Data Stash covered the overage, and I still have more than 5 GB in the bank.

Android data usageBut the experience did remind me that you can burn through mobile bandwidth surprisingly fast. And since I’m always asking readers who have had the same experience “what apps did you in,” I should answer the same question myself.

So here are the top 10 offenders listed in Android’s Data Usage screen:

• Twitter: 1.91 GB. This one stands out not just because it’s at the top of the list–that’s a quasi-obscene amount of data for a social network originally designed to function over SMS. Tapping that entry revealed that Twitter ate up almost half of that data, 855 megabytes, while running in the background; I guess that’s why Android has a “Restrict app background data” control.

• Chrome: 723 MB. This didn’t surprise me much, since I haven’t switched on this browser’s Data Saver option. I’m glad it’s there, though.

• Facebook: 244 MB. I expected more, considering how I spend almost as much time in this app as I do in Twitter. The developers at the social network may deserve a little more credit for keeping their app quasi-efficient in its bandwidth use.

• Android OS: 109 MB. Picture me shrugging as I realize how little this entry just told me.

• Gmail: 92.6 MB. I thought this would be higher, considering I have this app syncing three different e-mail accounts.

• Google App: 63.11 MB. This is all Google Now, right?

• Google Play services: 62.55 MB. Here we have another catchall item–this Android library does chores for a vast variety of apps on a phone.

• Vine: 55.79 MB. While Twitter’s primarily text-based app binged on bandwidth, its video-only offshoot sipped this little. Picture me once again shrugging.

• Snapchat: 53.13 MB. I don’t even use this app in any meaningful way (a fuller account of my Snapchat incompetence will require a separate post), so I don’t know how it burned through that much data.

• Flickr: 48.02 MB. This would have been vastly higher had I not set Yahoo’s photo-sharing app to upload photos only over WiFi. The Play Store accounts for a tiny share of my bandwidth for the same reason.

If you don’t mind sharing, what apps top your own phone’s data-usage screen? I realize that in iOS, you can’t get a month-by-month breakdown (the upcoming iOS 10 doesn’t fix that, to judge from the peek I got at it last month), but even the running total iOS keeps should still yield some useful insights.

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2 thoughts on “The apps that finally pushed me past my data plan’s limit

  1. 3.92 GB in June and very similar to yours

    890MB for twitter
    680 MB for chrome
    320 MB for Facebook
    320 MB for Spotify (sometimes listen to things that I have not downloaded)

    Only surprise app usage was 120MB for the At Bat MLB app which I only use to look at box scores but I guess video or something is loading behind the scenes

  2. Google Play Store, 439 MB (On a Nexus 5, apps, especially Google ones, are always updating.)
    Facebook, 281 MB (No surprise)
    Chrome, 274 MB
    Flickr, 131 MB
    Google App, 92.54 MB
    Google Services, 69.38
    Android OS, 62.44
    Weather Underground, 31.22 (Surprised that one isn’t higher.)
    Photos, 26.88
    Maps, 22.37 (Very surprised this isn’t higher, Maps being the only app I regularly use while driving.)
    A whole bunch under 10 MB…
    Phone only uses 182 KB?
    And 15 apps using under 1 MB.

    There’s enough free wifi about that I usually use that instead of LTE, so I have 13.19 GB in my Data Stash. Handy when I visit Dad in Utah, as my LTE connection is higher speed than his home wifi, so I use my Nexus for tethering.

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