A 3GB data plan will allow you to browse the internet for around 36 hours, to stream 600 songs or to watch 6 hours of standard-definition video.

Nowadays, the key difference between mobile phone price plans is how many gigabytes of data it comes with.

If you're looking for a mobile phone plan with 3GB of data, prices currently start from £6/month in the UK. With your 3GB of data, you'll be able to browse the internet for approximately 36 hours per month, to stream 600 songs online or to watch 6 hours of online video in standard definition.

In this article, we'll discuss what you can do with 3GB of data and how long you can expect your 3GB allowance to last for. We'll also discuss 3GB data plans, where you can find one in the UK and how much you can expect to pay.

How Much Is 3GB Data?

In the UK, a number of mobile networks currently offer 3GB data plans. There's a choice of 4 mobile networks if you're looking for a Pay Monthly SIM card, and a further choice of 4 networks if you're looking for a more flexible Pay As You Go bundle.

Pay Monthly SIM Cards

If you're looking for the lowest possible prices, you can get a Pay Monthly SIM card with 3GB of data from £6.00/month. The following table shows a list of currently available deals:

NetworkMinutesTextsDataMonthly
Cost
Sky MobileUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£6.00
12 months
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£7.00
1 month
BT MobileUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£14.00
12 months
O2UnlimitedUnlimited3GB£17.00
12 months

Contract lengths will vary when taking a Pay Monthly contract. You'll normally need to undergo a credit check when taking out a Pay Monthly contract.

Pay As You Go SIM Cards

If you're looking for a bit of extra flexibility, a Pay As You Go bundle allows you to have this with 3GB of data from £10.00/month. There's no commitment to renewing your bundle every month. You can also increase or decrease your data allowance at the end of each month if you find you're on a plan with the wrong amount of data.

The following table shows Pay As You Go bundles with 3GB of data per month:

NetworkMinutesTextsDataMonthly
Cost
O2UnlimitedUnlimited3GB£10.00
Lebara MobileUnlimited1,0003GB£10.00
Tesco Mobile5005,0003GB£10.00
Vodafone250Unlimited3GB£10.00
There's no need to undergo a credit check when taking a Pay As You Go bundle. It's normally possible to order a free Pay As You Go SIM card: you'll then simply need to top it up with credit to get started.

Alternatives

Instead of choosing a 3GB data plan, it may sometimes make sense to choose a plan with more data. This is especially the case when special offers and promotion are available: you might be able to get a larger allowance of data for the same or for a very similar price:

Amount of DataPay MonthlyPay As You Go
250MB Data£4.00 £2 cheaper£5.00 £5 cheaper
500MB Data£5.00 £1 cheaper£5.00 £5 cheaper
1GB Data£5.00 £1 cheaper£7.50 £2.5 cheaper
2GB Data£6.00£7.00 £3 cheaper
3GB Data£6.00£10.00
4GB Data£8.00 £2 more£10.00
6GB Data£10.00 £4 more£10.00
8GB Data£8.00 £2 more£10.00
12GB Data£10.00 £4 more£20.00 £10 more
20GB Data£15.00 £9 more£15.00 £5 more
40GB Data£20.00 £14 more£20.00 £10 more
100GB Data£20.00 £14 more-
Unlimited Data£18.00 £12 more£25.00 £15 more

Some price plans include a data rollover feature giving you a second opportunity to use your data allowance. Alternatively, an unlimited data plan could also be worth thinking about if you'd like a worry-free plan where you never need to think about how much data you're using.

How Long Does 3GB Of Data Last?

When figuring out how much data you need, it's important to think about your own individual usage requirements.

If you choose a plan with too much data, you could be overpaying for lots of data that you don't actually use. On the other hand, choosing a plan with too little data could mean being cut-off from the internet in the middle of the month.

The following table gives you an approximate guide to what you can do with 3GB of data:

Activity3GB data is equal to...
Accessing web pages1,800 web pages (approx 36 hours browsing)
Basic e-mail/instant message1,050,000 messages
Rich e-mail/IM (with attachments)6,000 messages
Downloading or streaming music600 songs
Downloading or streaming video (SD)6 hours
Downloading or streaming video (HD)1.5 hours
Skype voice call90 hours
Skype video call12 hours
Listening to online radio48 hours
Downloading or updating apps75 apps

We've made a number of assumptions in coming to these numbers. You can read about these in more detail here.

As of 2019, the average UK consumer uses around 3GB of mobile data each month. This has been growing rapidly in the past few years (e.g. it was only 1.9GB in 2017 and 0.2GB in 2012). This means a 3GB data allowance should comfortably cover the average UK consumer's monthly data usage.

For more information, see our guide on how to find out your current data usage.

More Information

Our full guide to mobile download limits has more information including on how to find out how much data you need.

Once you've decided how much data you need, we've summarised the best Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go SIM cards across a variety of price points in the UK.

Your Comments 404 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 404 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Hi Ken.
    Thanks so much for the info.
    Do these same figures apply when you tether your laptop from your phone?
    I’m about to get a 100gb 12 month contract, as I’m going to be living in my van for a while.
    I’ll be doing design work from my laptop in the day, uploading large files and emailing clients, then probably watching Netflix in the evening for an hour or so.
    Is more GB used when tethering? Should I go for unlimited data?
    Thank you!

    • Hi M,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, the same figures apply when you’re tethering from a laptop. However, it’s possible that some additional data is consumed e.g. because your videos stream in higher-quality due to the larger screen size. Software updates on your laptop could also cause some additional usage.
      With regards to choosing between 100GB and unlimited data, it’s really difficult to say! Certainly, if the price difference is fairly small, it’s worth going for unlimited data to give you the total piece of mind & so you never need to worry about it again. Currently, you can get unlimited data for £18/month – I’m not sure how this compares to the cost of your 100GB deal.
      Ken

  • H i would just like to thank you for the information I have just read about the GB yours has been the first detailed information that wasn’t full of gobbledygook I found you so easy to understand so straight forward so thank you

  • Learning so much reading the previous comments/replies. I have an employee who has a Verizon Jetpack Mifi 8800L and has currently used 101GB according to our bill. Is this excessive considering his work is being out in the field for short periods of time? The person has an Apple iPhone Xs Max 512GB. They track water wells but those have routers and transmit data to and from. We are a small entity and I don’t see how they can run this much data. 7-4pm shift, M-F with some weekend duties but we do not pay overtime and they get time off for overages. Your Data table is very eye opening. Is all that type of usage included in 100GB or is “or” implied for one or the other usage type?
    Thanks Ken!

    • Hi Briana,
      101GB of data usage certainly isn’t unheard of, especially if the device is being used for things like streaming video from the internet (TV, movies, etc). The table here should allow you to estimate total data usage based on number of different activities.
      Ken

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