Google Maps is considered one of the best navigation apps you can get your hands on these days, and with it being completely free—it’s a no-brainer. It has all kinds of information packed into the map, like points of interests, GPS, different types of maps, and navigational features. With all that condensed into a small app, the question begins to creep: how much data does Google Maps actually use?
Your first instinct is that it must drain your data like crazy. But, as a matter of fact, Google Maps is quite conservative.
How Much Data Does Google Maps Use?
Now, it should be noted that everyone uses Google Maps a little differently, but there is a number to cling to. Let’s say you’re driving for 20 minutes using Google Maps, that will cost you about 0.7MB to 0.75MB. By comparison, streaming a song from, say, Spotify, will cost you 2MB to 3MB per song, which last from 3 to 5 minutes each.
At the most, you’ll use around 5MB per hour of travel. Let’s say your commute to work and back is 2 hours altogether. That’s 10MB per day; 70MB per week; 300MB per month. Someone who has, say, a 2GB phone plan could reasonably afford to spend that kind of data on Google Maps—provided they’re using their data sparingly.
Compared to other maps, it uses far less data than iOS’ Apple Maps, but more than Waze. In fact, Waze uses less than Google Maps—roughly half as much—and, by default, less than Apple Maps.
How to Reduce Data When Using Google Maps
Of course, not everyone uses Google Maps the same way. You might check how much data you used on Google Maps and found out it was several hundreds. Naturally, reducing the amount of data is necessary, even if you still use Google Maps sparingly. Phone plans can be pretty expensive these days.
What can be done? First and foremost, don’t use satellite mapping. Google Maps has different kinds of maps you can toggle, a satellite map being one of them. It gives you a detailed look of Earth, a satellite view. It uses way more data due to all the detail it has to load.
If you want to reduce your Google Map data usage to virtually zero, you can opt into downloading the map you need while you’re connected to Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, this comes with a few sacrifices. For starters, the information download—points of interest, roads, and so on—is as up to date at the moment you downloaded it. It could be out of date by tomorrow.
Another issue you run into is the lack of navigational features, such as GPS and turn-by-turn. Without the connection to Wi-Fi or mobile data, Google Maps can’t use either function. It basically becomes a glorified map, which is fine and they’re highly detailed, but you won’t have a real-time location.
Finally, you’re missing out on the unexpected, like traffic reports, updates, and the quickest routes. Google Maps has the ability to recalculate your path based on traffic. Without mobile data or Wi-Fi, it’s no longer available. In other words, there’s a lot that’s sacrificed when you choose to download maps from Google Maps. And with how little data Google Maps uses, it’s not really worth the sacrifice.
Google Maps is surprisingly light with the amount of data it uses—roughly 0.75MB every 20 minutes, or 5MB an hour. If you were hoping to save mobile data, download maps ahead of time using Wi-Fi. But ultimately it isn’t worth sacrificing most of what makes Google Maps so good.