Most people don’t know how much data they use in a regular month. This might make it hard to assess how much you really need to have on your cell phone plan. The easiest way to figure out how much you use is to check with your current carrier or directly on your phone.
On iPhone, go to Settings – Cellular and it will show your cumulative usage from the time you activated your phone. If you want to track usage from a specific date, you need to Reset Statistics. On Android, it’s a bit more straightforward; go to Settings – Data usage to see total usage for a given date range.
If you’re a US Mobile customer, you can just sign into your account to get an instant overview.
Once you know how much you use, you should know that your decisions on how you’re using your phone will impact the data usage.
Does a Faster Internet Use More Data?
The big question is, will faster internet speeds use more data? Technically no but logically, and in reality, yes. First of all, doing the identical thing on a slow vs a fast network will use the exact same amount of data. Downloading a 200MB photo will always require 200 MB. However, the faster the speed, the quicker you can complete a task such as downloading or uploading a file. That means that you’re able to do more, and consume more data, in the same amount of time if you have fast speeds. You naturally do more and probably use higher quality streaming.
When you increase internet speed it will also increase the speed of consumption of background data. For example, while browsing videos on You Tube you might not watch the full video. If the data download speed is fast, the entire video will be buffered despite the fact that you only watched parts of it. Had the Internet speed been slower, it would not have downloaded that extra unwatched part of the video. This also means that when you click on a web page, and the speed is fast, the whole page will be instantly loaded including graphics and widgets. You will, therefore, download a larger page than what you would have if your internet was slow. If you had a slower internet, you might also give up on a page sooner and automatically the total download would have been smaller.
So even if the faster network, per se, don’t use more data, the change in your consumption and larger page loads will lead to you using more.
Adjust Quality on Your Streaming Apps
If data were cookies, apps providing some kind of streaming service, are the cookie monsters. Usage, of course, varies by app and streaming quality. The rule of thumb is that the better quality (higher resolution), the more data you’ll use.
But you have the power to limit quality to use less of your plan. On Netflix, for instance, you have the option to only stream when you’re on WiFi, which means that you never use your mobile plan. Other usage settings are as follows:
- Auto – stream to the highest quality depending on your internet speed (~3 hours per GB).
- Low – stream 4 hours per GB.
- Medium – stream 2 hours per GB.
- High – stream 1 hour per GB.
- Unlimited – if you don’t have an unlimited plan, you should forget about this option as it’s about 20 min of watching per GB.
Most streaming apps let you make choices about quality which will impact your data usage. So make sure you check what options you have for your favorite apps.
Watch Out for Data Throttling
Finally, you should make sure that you’re aware of any data throttling going on. Throttling is when a carrier intentionally slows down your upload and download speed. Cell phone carriers often slow your cell phone data to dial-up speeds once you go over your monthly plan. For instance, you have 3GB and you’re streaming an Amazon Prime video. It’s working fine until you hit your max usage of 3GB and then you’ll just see an endless loading wheel. You might still be able to access some sites, but it will take a long time to load. You might also be hit with overage charges for using more than the plan you’ve subscribed to. Basically, make sure you get what you (think) you’re paying for.
So you have a GPS Tracker but no SIM card? Or do you think you’re paying too much for the service? Then, it’s time to pay attention.
How Does a GPS Tracker Work?
First of all, GPS stands for Global Positioning System. A GPS is a tracking method to work out exactly where something is. It could track the exact location of a vehicle, a cell phone, or some other handheld device. It can also track the movement. As an example, a GPS tracker can be used by a company to monitor the route and progress of a delivery truck, or by a parent to check on the location of their child or the family dog.
A tracking system uses the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) network, consisting of 24 satellites and many more ground stations. In order to communicate, microwave signals are sent between the satellite and the device to give information on location, speed, time and direction. All cell phones, for instance, constantly broadcast a radio signal, even when you’re not on a call.
GPS technology has become common in smartphones and knowing a smartphone’s location can be used for several different purposes. One area that has grown the last couple of years, is hyper-local mobile advertising. Say for instance that you’re the Marketing Manager at McDonald’s. By using location based marketing, you can send promo codes to a person’s phone who’s walking past a McDonald’s. You could also send out notifications to people driving, saying “you’re only X miles away from the nearest McDonalds”.
GPS Trackers Needing SIM Card
Any GPS Tracker has a receiver to triangulate its own position from the satellite signals. Most trackers need a SIM card in order to achieve connectivity. SIM cards are what allow location transmission, sending audio data, and receiving commands to turn on audio and other advanced features. Example of trackers powered by a GSM SIM card are:
- ATian TK103B
- Vision One
- Panadoo DZ09
- Samsung Gear S3
- Trax Family
- Covrt Gear
Most of the trackers mentioned above are currently getting prepaid affordable plans from US Mobile. A text and data plan for a GPS Tracker is just $6/month.
If you’re using a so called GPS Watch, or Phone tracker to track your kid or maybe for someone to keep track of you, you will also need a cellular plan. These watches or trackers tend to use very limited data since it’s just giving location instead of downloading big files or streaming videos. Some watches you can text with, and some you can call with. Overall your plan can be kept very small though.
Let’s say you have a smartwatch that uses talk, text, and data, it should be enough with US Mobile’s smallest plans. In fact, the 100 min, 100 test, and 100 MB for $9/monhth is the most common plan among our customers using our prepaid SIM card for their watches.
Feeling trapped? Then you’re not on a prepaid phone plan!
Having a prepaid phone plan usually means that you didn’t need to go through a credit check when you bought it, you don’t have a contract and you are currently saving money. In short, there are many reasons to consider a prepaid phone plan and there are many options to consider.
A Prepaid Phone Plan for the Budget-Conscious
Prepaid phone plans are in particular suitable for the frugal customer. Usually they come with no frills, but instead, the actual plans are generally lower. You pay up front for talk, text, and data, with no risk of overage charges or other surprises at the end of the month.
At US Mobile, you can go into our prepaid plans‘ page and explore what your monthly bill would be based on your current usage. If you don’t know how much you’re using on average, check your last phone bill. Another thing you can to clearly see what you would potentially be saving if you switch carriers is to look at our Savings Calculator. It will plot out what your current cost is, what the average US cell phone bill is, and compare them with your own-crafted plan with US Mobile.
Another thing you can see is what you would be saving if you switched carrier. Have a look at our Savings Calculator. It will plot your current cost is along with the average US cell phone bill, and compare them with your own-crafted plan with US Mobile.
Best Plans for Your Kid
Getting your kid a phone can be both costly and scary. However, a prepaid plan will help with both those concerns. If you go for prepaid, instead of postpaid, you’ll make sure that your kid isn’t using more than what you’ve paid for. You won’t have to face the horror that you might remember from back in the days when you dialed up to the internet with a modem, costing you $$$ for every hour you were online. The kid can use the phone until all the talk, text, and data is used up.
Speaking of data, you might even consider going with a talk- and text only plans for your child. That way you can ensure that they don’t go online without an adult supervising. The smallest talk/text plan you can buy for your kid is $7 including the monthly service fee. It will work both on a cell phone but also on any kind of GPS/Phone watch. If you have children in their teens, we would recommend adding more texts than minutes to the plan. In our experience, teens seem to prefer to communicate with text. For an unlimited text plan. you only pay $7/month (excluding service fee) at US Mobile.
When it comes to phone selection you should start by deciding if you need a basic phone, just for calling and texting or a smartphone. Smartphones have operating systems enabling apps, streaming movies and music, accessing the internet and taking photos or even recording videos.
Secondly, you should decide on a prepaid phone, where you pay month-to-month based on usage, or a postpaid phone. A postpaid phone is usually offered at a discount and you pay every month instead of upfront for it. The caveat here is that you’ll have to stay with that carrier until your contract is over (generally after 24 months). If/When you want to switch carriers, you need to make sure that the phone is unlocked. Check out Can I Unlock My Phone for more details on that.
To conclude, choose a prepaid phone plan if you want:
- Freedom to change phones and carriers without penalty.
- Pay for calling, texting and data services in advance, which usually lowers your phone bill.
- Flexibility to upgrade and downgrade your plan and come and go as you want.
Does your smartwatch need a GSM SIM Card? Preferably one that is prepaid and low cost? Then we suggest that you continue reading.
Nearly 16% of US consumers now own wearables and many smartwatches have become light versions of mobile phones. And in a sense they are; you can use them for making phone calls, texting and browsing the internet. A popular consumer category for this type of wearables, is kids . Kids smartwatches are gaining popularity as it says to give parents peace of mind. They’re able to locate a kid’s whereabouts at any given point and communicate without phones, which are both expensive and gives access to unsupervised internet browsing. CCS Insight forecasts that the wearables industry will grow from just over $10 billion in 2017 to almost $17 billion by 2021. That includes fitness bands, smart clothing , hearables and wearable cameras.
Why do Smartwatches Need a SIM Card?
Even though smartwatches usually are an extension of the phone which they’re syncing with, some models are stand-alone devices. They work independently and are connected through a GSM SIM card. The other watches instead use Bluetooth to pull down content from a nearby paired phone, using the phone’s cellular connection.
The SIM card, in any device, connects to a carrier’s network using unique identification data and an authentication key. It’s a small bit of information stored in a chip, that enables connectivity. It’s also what prevents it from connecting to other carriers’ networks. Nano is the most common sized SIM card for smartwathes, although some are also using the Micro size.
So is it better to have a watch with a SIM card slot or not? The answer is: it depends. The downside of having a smartwatch that needs a SIM card is that you’ll have ongoing costs for the service plan. On the other hand, it’s practical to not have to carry around your phone whenever you want to use your watch.
Customizing a Smartwatch Plan
At US Mobile, it’s very simple to design an affordable smartwatch plan that is customized to your watch’s needs. Let’s say your watch needs talk, text, and data – just pick the size of each component in our matrix. The most affordable plan, including talk, text, and data, is $9 which is including our monthly fee. In the case you don’t need all three components, you can just choose the ones your watch requires.
Start by going to our plans page and follow the steps visible below.
Watches with SIM Card
Although the majority of smartwatches have Bluetooth connectivity, there are a couple of great ones using a cellular connection. A few models to mention are:
- DZ09 – very attractive watch with both Bluetooth and cellular connectivity and also have integrated sleep monitoring.
- Samsung Gear S & S2 3G/4G & S3 Frontier LTE – three different designs from the curved display on the S, to a sportswatch look on the S3. Both the S2 and S3 connects with e-sim.
- Scinex SW20 & SW30 – nice looking watches with a touchscreen that can either be connected to a phone or be used as a stand-alone.
- LEMFO LF07 & KW88 – the LF07 is supposedly a replica of Apple Smartwatch Series 2, supporting both Android and iOS. The KW88 has a sportier look and just supports Android.
- NEPTUNE Pine – has a large display which makes it possible to even watch movies on the watch.
- LG Urbane 2nd Edition LTE – classy look of a regular watch with the features of a premium smartwatch.
As mentioned in the beginning, the kids’ smartwatch industry is growing. The following are powered by a SIM Card:
- LEMFO Q50 – a smartwatch with an anti lost SOS call children tracker that is unlocked for worldwide use.
- TickTalk – kids wearable phone and tracker, where parents can even listen into the surroundings of their kid’s location.
- Tinitell – simple design with just one big button, with volume buttons on the side. A watch phone that comes in four colors.
- Trax Play – tiny GPS tracker in a square box form, for small children and pets.
Prepaid internet means that you pay before using it, similar to prepaid cell phone plans. You can either pay for the amount of data you want to use, or you pay for an unlimited service that is limited in time. Some of the advantages of prepaid internet are the lack of:
- Hidden fees
- Surprise bills
A prepaid data plan provides you the freedom to switch carrier and usage as often as you want!
Wireless Prepaid Internet
As the mobile data consumption continues to increase, the wireless prepaid internet is on the rise. The average data consumption in the US is likely to reach 6GB/month by the end of 2017. In terms of GB per user consumption, the US is third behind Finland and Korea.
At US Mobile you can choose between seven wireless prepaid internet plans, ranging from 100 MB for $2 to 8 GB for $35. We have noticed that our prepaid SIM and data plans are used in much more than cell phones, like alarms, GPS trackers, and even smartwatches. Since our plans start off small, they are a great fit for IoT devices which usually need less data. In fact, in a broader perspective, IoT and cars accounted for 71% of the net-adds for carriers in Q2 2017, according to Chetan Sharma. Our wireless plans can just as well be used on an iPad as our customer, Wayne describes:
Internet Speed Test
Measuring mobile internet speeds is increasingly important as people has started using phones as their main internet source. Surprisingly, the US just ranks 28th when it comes to mobile internet speeds in the world.
A slow internet can undoubtedly be frustrating. And obviously, you don’t want to pay the same for a slow vs a fast internet. Therefore it might be a good idea to check how fast your data connection is. There are several apps that can test your speed, no matter if you’re using a cellular connection or WiFi. We like the Ookla Speedtest app, which uses an algorithm to check cellular or WiFi data speed.
The different generations of networks will have a range of upload and download speeds. 7.2 Mbps would be considered 3G (52 Mbps on 3G HSPA+), whereas the 4G standard is to reach minimum data rates of 100 Mbps. The goal for 5G is to achieve significantly faster speeds, with a minimum of 1 Gbps and hopefully up to 10 Gbps.
Mobile Hotspot Plans
Mobile WiFi hotspots let you hook up multiple PCs, iPads, iPhones, and other mobile devices to the Internet via WiFi. Using WiFi means that you don’t use your regular, cellular, data plan when you’re online.
There are millions of free hotspots around the country. In order to locate them, you can simply type in “WiFi Hotspots” in the search window in Google Maps to see hotspots in reach. However, if you’re looking for a more certain hotspot access, we recommend our $10 WiFi plan. The plan operates on the biggest hotspot network in the world. It even works on the ground and in the air on all major airlines.