The apps we enjoy the most are usually the apps that eat the most data on our phones. We get it; your phone is your entertainment hub, but it requires data to run those programs.
Smartphones and streaming services were made with each other in mind. Your phone is designed to deliver high-quality content through the screen or its audio parts, and streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, and Spotify provide entertainment.
We love to listen to music on our phones. But high-quality audio streaming eats up the data like never before. This article will break down just how much data you use when you open up your favorite music app.
How Much Data Does Streaming Use?
Most services use the scale low, normal, and high when classifying the quality of the music being streamed or bitrate (the number of bits per second transmitted digitally) to determine each category. Here’s a brief overview and how much data each will gobble. Most music platforms offer streaming services that auto-regulate based on your network status, and some use lower quality bitrates for the categories.
- Low-quality audio streaming utilizes 0.72MB per minute or 43.2MB per hour on average (96kbps).
- Normal-quality music streaming utilizes 1.20MB per minute or 72MB per hour on average (160kbps).
- High-quality streaming music utilizes 2.40MB per minute or 115.2MB per hour on average (320kbps).
As you probably guessed, streaming video eats up much more data than audio does. Why wouldn’t it? There’s just more data being conveyed.
Fortunately, apps are now designed to stream videos that will work in tandem with the available network conditions. Here’s a quick breakdown of how video streams consume data.
- Low-quality video (240p or 320p) uses about 0.3GB (300MB) per hour.
- SD quality video (480p) uses about 0.7GB (700MB) per hour.
- HD quality video (720p and 2K) uses about 0.9GB (720p), 1.5GB (1080p) and 3GB (2K) per hour. (Streams can be adjusted by the app.)
- UHD quality video (4K) uses the most data. Streaming in 4k uses about 7.2GB per hour.
Keep in mind that compression, network conditions, and your phone’s cache will all play a role in determining the exact numbers, but the numbers mentioned above are a pretty safe bet.
How Much Data Does Streaming Music Use?
Great, now you have an idea of how streaming works, but what about your favorite music app? When it comes to individual music streaming platforms, each one offers slightly varying quality rates. Usually, it’s because of the music file types some people use; for others, it depends on their subscription level.
How Much Data Does Pandora Use?
- Pandora on Wi-Fi streams music at 128 Kbps and will use about 60-70 MB per hour.
- Pandora on mobile data streams music at 64 Kbps automatically and will use approximately 30 MB per hour.
- Pandora Plus or Premium (Wi-Fi or mobile data) uses 192 Kbps automatically and approximately 90 MB per hour.
If you have a paid Pandora account, you most likely have a choice between low (32 Kbps), standard (64 Kbps), and high (192 Kbps) quality streaming.
How Much Data Does Spotify Use?
Spotify provides various streaming quality selections based on the user’s subscription level, rather than the device they’re listening on. Both free and premium accounts offer automatic, low, normal, and high streaming levels, and the premium offers a “very high” option to top it off.
Whether you’re listening to music on your smartphone, tablet, or desktop, Spotify’s streams music at:
- Automatic: Spotify will auto-adjust the quality of your streams based on your network conditions.
- Low: Streams music at 24 Kbps and uses approximately 90 MB per hour.
- Normal: Streams music at 96 Kbps and uses about 345 MB per hour.
- High: Streams music at 160 Kbps and uses roughly 576 MB per hour.
- Very high (premium only): Streams music at 320 Kbps and uses approximately 1.2 GB per hour.
How Much Data Does Amazon Music Use?
Unlike other streaming services, Amazon hasn’t officially unveiled its Music service’s streaming quality for Prime users or the Amazon Music Unlimited. The general agreement online is the audio quality options extend from 48 Kbps to 320 Kbps, depending on the streaming quality. Users can manage the quality option based on the device they’re listening on. You’d use roughly 175 MB or 0.175 GB per hour at the low end, while on the high end, you’d use about 1.2 GB per hour.
How Much Data Does Apple Music Use?
Unlike other streaming services, Apple Music streams at 256 Kbps no matter how you listen, meaning you’d use roughly 1 GB per hour.
Unless you’ve got an unlimited data plan, it’s not a bad idea to learn how to manage your streaming data usage. An excellent way to do this is to monitor track usage on your mobile provider app. Most providers offer the ability to monitor and track data usage in real-time within their apps and send you alerts when you reach certain usage levels. Looking for more tech guides? Read more:
- How Much Data Does Netflix Use?
- How Much Data Does YouTube Use?
- 13 Best Free Music Apps for iPhone
- How to Track Data Usage on Your Android Device