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 £7/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 6 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 £7.00/month. The following table shows a list of currently available deals:

NetworkMinutesTextsDataMonthly
Cost
TalkmobileUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£7.00
1 month
iD Mobile500Unlimited3GB£7.00
1 month
SmartyUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£8.00
1 month
Virgin MobileUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£8.00
24 months
iD MobileUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£9.00
1 month
Virgin Mobile5,000Unlimited3GB£10.00
12 months
BT MobileUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£14.00
12 months
O2UnlimitedUnlimited3GB£17.00
12 months
To show you the most relevant plans, 2 similar but more expensive plans have been hidden. .

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£13.00 £6 more£5.00 £5 cheaper
500MB Data£3.99 £3 cheaper£5.00 £5 cheaper
1GB Data£5.00 £2 cheaper£7.50 £2.5 cheaper
2GB Data£5.00 £2 cheaper£7.00 £3 cheaper
3GB Data£7.00£10.00
4GB Data£8.00 £1 more£10.00
6GB Data£10.00 £3 more£10.00
8GB Data£8.00 £1 more£15.00 £5 more
12GB Data£10.00 £3 more£20.00 £10 more
20GB Data£14.00 £7 more£15.00 £5 more
40GB Data£23.00 £16 more£20.00 £10 more
100GB Data£15.00 £8 more-
Unlimited Data£18.00 £11 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 411 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 411 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Hi Ken…I rue the day I introduced my mother to words with friends. She is addicted and plays hours everyday. I have her on our shared plan, 3 phones with 60 gigs. Should be plenty but several times she has used up our gigs(I refuse to buy additional) my husband & I can & do use wi fi when at home or available. My question is how many hours of game play is one gig? Can’t find that info anywhere. I’m about to switch her to her own plan & she can deal with it. Thanks.

    • Hi Kyleen,
      Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to this as it depends very much on the game! The best way to find out is by following the instructions here. That should allow you to see a breakdown of how much data each application is using, and how much is being used by Words with Friends. You can then divide that the number of hours she spends playing the game, to get an approximate “data usage per hour” if required. I must say, however, I’m incredibly doubtful that Words With Friends would use 60GB per month – it’s possible you’ll find another culprit when you look!
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,
    I have just bought my first smart phone (I’m a very old girl!) and a monthly SIM card, both online. The plan said 2GB data – I didn’t have the faintest idea what that actually meant! But now I do. I thought about going into my local phone shop but couldn’t face the pitying looks of the staff.
    But now I don’t have to thanks to your wonderfully clear explanation. Thank you, Ken!
    Meriel

  • I have only read a few sentences here but have written down kenstechtips.com so I can read your advice…I was at my wit’s end,as I usually am for the last few years…I do trust my monthly contract with 02 but as I have not upgraded last time with my phone and old iPad Air…and REFUSE TO HAVE WIFI CONNECTION FOR YEARS NOW…I am struggling to understand how to update my old fashioned mobile and iPad…I have no time to go see a guru at my local O2,who have always sorted out their best deal for my needs BUT I always come home and think …I am not stupid,just need a simple explanation,I read lots via Google but never quite get my answers…I now am relying on your website to provide the advice I need but will not be complaining if I get no result…I am content just understanding the few words I read here….no need for anyone who reads this to reply,thank you for reading my comments…Best Regards,Deborah

    • Hi Deborah,
      Thanks for taking the time to write and to leave me a comment. I’m pleased that the website has been useful – do let me know if there’s anything else I can help out with explaining!
      Ken

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