When you’re on a limited mobile data plan, or even an unlimited plan, every single megabyte of data you use is going to count against you. WhatsApp isn’t an exception to the rule; it too uses data and if you aren’t careful, you could be hurting your wallet. Of course, that brings up an important character: how much data does WhatsApp use?
Not only will you get an idea of what you’re using, you’ll learn when WhatsApp uses data, and how you can reduce the amount.
How Much Data Does WhatsApp Use?
WhatsApp uses a surprising amount of data when you make a call. If you compare it with Skype, which uses the most, WhatsApp is right behind Skype in the race. The average amount of data you’ll be using is around 750KB to 1MB every 5 minutes or so. If you’re converting, 1MB is 1000KB.
But what about images? Unfortunately, there isn’t a measuring stick for images and videos, however, the amount of data an image or video uses is based on the size of the file. For example, if you download a 16MB image that was sent to you, then you’ve used 16MB of data. How much you use, say, every month, really depends on how often you download images and videos while using WhatsApp.
You can actually check how much you’ve used recently by going to Settings > Cellular, if you’re using iOS. For Android, you’ll want to visit Settings > Data Usage > Network Usage. This will give you a rundown of how many bytes you’ve received—which does count against your data usage, by the way—and bytes you’ve sent out.
What You Can Do To Reduce Data Usage
So, now that you have a really good estimate on the amount of data WhatsApp can use, what can you do to reduce it? WhatsApp has several features located in its settings that can greatly decrease the amount of data it uses. However, it should be noted that, regardless of settings, habit and general use can greatly determine how much data is used.
1. Turn Off Automatic Media Download
WhatsApp has a feature—specifically on Android—that auto-downloads media you get sent through messages. This not only racks up a lot of data, especially with videos being denser, it can be hell on your storage.
To disable auto-downloads, go into Settings > Data and Storage Usage > Media Auto-Download. Set everything under Media Auto-Download to No Media.
2. Change Your Backup Options
In the same vein, WhatsApp has the ability to backup conversations, images, and videos to Google Drive or the iOS equivalent iCloud. This is a great feature for looking back on old messages, especially if they’re important. On top of that, it keeps a copy of important conversations if you want to do some spring cleaning.
Unfortunately, that adds to your data. It’s sending a copy of that information via a mobile network. Now, you don’t have to necessarily turn it off, but you can change when backups are made and how frequently.
Change your backup options by visiting Settings > Chats > Chat Backup > Back Up Over and choose Wi-Fi Only or Never.
3. Use ‘Low Data Usage’ Mode
If those two options weren’t enough for you, WhatsApp is also sporting a ‘Low Data Usage’ mode. If the name didn’t give it away, it reduces the amount of data used when chatting and making calls. However, it does come with some drawbacks. Audio and video quality will drop. You can ask a buddy to test it out with you and see if it’s worth using.
To enable Low Data Usage mode, go into your Settings > Data and Storage Usage > Call Settings. Under Call Settings, toggle Low Data Usage.
4. Create Better Habits
Above all else, monitor your habits. Use Wi-Fi when you have the opportunity, turn your mobile data off when it isn’t necessary, and only send pictures when necessary. You can monitor your data usage in WhatsApp’s Settings.
Knowing the amount of data you eat up while using WhatsApp is a must, especially if you have a phone plan that doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle worm. You wouldn’t want to unnecessarily charge yourself if, say, Wi-Fi is available.
With that said, the only known variable is the amount of data WhatsApp uses during a call. Messages, on the other hand, are based more on the media sent to you. In fact, messages by themselves are negligible at around 10KB of data. It’s phone calls and video calls that you have to be conscious of.