Smartphone Data : New Users – Watch the Data !

Smartphone Data – Can cost a lot

Excess Smartphone Data usage costs. It costs lots. We love you at Whatphone. People like people like then and if you want a Smartphone, we want to be in your gang !

And because we’re like you, we know what it’s like to gently tear open the covers and open a box with a brand new Smartphone in it. It’s a time of happiness and excitement. There is giddy thrill about the aesthetics ( if you’ve chosen right ) and trepidation as to how the user experience will serve you – you’re stuck with it now for 24 months after all ! But most of all, critically, it is a time you’re going to be using your phone a lot and, at Whatphone, we want to make sure you manage it right and avoid excess data usage.

Smartphone data usage early on

Let’s get this clear. You are going to use your Smartphone a lot in the early days. It’s natural. You obsess over the family’s new puppy less than you do a Galaxy s3 ( or at least we do. ) You’ll try all the pre-installed apps, you’ll configure and download your email accounts, you’ll have a look around in the Play or iTunes store and download a BUNCH of apps and Widgets. Next comes the demonstration where you show your friends what you’ve got and what it can do.

And while all that is happening, boy, are you running up the data and potentially getting in to excess data usage. In my first week with the HTC One X ( a while ago now but the memory is strong ) I ran up 1.5 GB of network data usage ! You read right. That’s 1.5 GB in a week ! Luckily, because I know my own usage behaviour, I made sure I had plenty more to use in my plan and didn’t suffer excess data usage.

Data inclusions are far more common and sizable now in plans than they ever were. All the major telcos ( telcos are telecommunications providers like Optus, Vodafone, Telstra and Virgin Mobile ) have started to include reasonably sized data bundles. The lowest we see these days is around 250 MB, many get in to the GB. It all depends on what you spend.

Smartphon Data Usage – 50% of people pay more

But incurring extra data usage is expensive as we all know. Recent research on the Australian market, by Macquarie University ( conducted in March 2012 ) shows that nearly half of customers incur extra usage ( going over on either voice or data ) on average, every 6 months ! That’s 4 times during the course of a normal contract with a telco ! The average excess usage charge was $40 which means that, over the course of their contract, people are paying $160 extra to the telco ! No wonder people get so cheesed off with the telecommunications providers they sign up with ! Who hasn’t had an unexpected bill for excess data usage ?!

Smartphone Data Usage Tips

At Whatphone, we sincerely do not want the magic first moments of your relationship with your Smartphone to be ruined with a ‘takes 5 calls to get through and complain’ argument with your Telco. When you pick your Smartphone up, take a moment and follow these simple tips to avoid being one of the many who get overcharged for excess data usage.

1. Read your contract.
The truth is, almost everyone we know reads their contract when they get their phone. Good for you ! This is the key to managing your usage. It’s a pain but once you’ve done it, make a note of the key inclusions and exclusions and know your data limit ! If you don’t know what you’re entitled to, you won’t know when you’ve used it !

2. For the first night or two, set yourself up on ( attach your device to) your wireless network if you can and take the SIM out of the phone. If you’re like us, you play with your new phone in front of the TV at night to ‘break it in’. There’s no reason to be using the telco’s network at this time, you can use the data on your home broadband connection. If you haven’t got one, go down to McDonalds or the pub and use their free wireless service !

3. Take a few moments and download a data usage measurement app and check it EVERY DAY for the first few days you’re on the new device. The early bills you get from your telcos can be confusing so it’s better to manage this yourself.

4. Set up your account in the online self service portal of your telco and find out where the usage meter is and how often it’s updated.

5. Consider buying an additional bolt on for the first month or two of your contract. All the telcos will offer you a data ‘bolt on’ which sits ‘on top of’ the inclusions in your standard pack. For example, if you’re on the $59 cap, you might get $500 worth of cap voice inclusions and 2 GB of data. A bolt on would involve adding, say, 1GB extra for $10.

When you’ve followed these simple rules, you’ll feel a lot better about beavering away on your new device and avoiding excess data usage charges.

After all, this is the honeymoon period. You’ve got the latest device on the block and something new will be out in a few months.

At WhatPhone, we want you to make the most of this lovely time. Take your Smartphone to Paris with you, go for a walk on the beach with it ( and use the ‘Torch app. to help you see. ) Caress it’s smooth plastic casing lovingly if you like.

But whatever you do, don’t incur excess data usage in the first few weeks. It hurts us when you suffer.


Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.