One of the big concerns I’ve heard from readers is whether Windows Phone’s 7 live tiles and deep online services integration would prove problematic for those using tiered data plans. AT&T, for example, recently dropped its unlimited data package for smart phones and moved to a two-tier model with a 200 MB option that costs $15 per month and a 2 GB option for $25.
When AT&T announced these plans, I checked to see where my own data usage fell. With some exceptions, the 200 MB plan would have been enough over the lifetime of my various iPhones, and the 2 GB plan would always have been enough by far. But because I was grandfathered into the unlimited plan, I ended up just keeping it, with the idea that I could evaluate things going forward and save some money by opting into a tiered plan at any time.
So what about Windows Phone 7? It’s still early days, but I can at least share my real-world data usage from the past few months and see what turns up. According to AT&T, my data usage from May to October looks like this:
Some explanation is in order here, so don’t jump to conclusions just yet.
I received a prototype Windows Phone device on July 12. So the August, September, and October figures are all completely Windows Phone usage. (Where July is presumably the 30 days ending July 10, or almost exactly the day I made the switch.)
August had artificially high data usage. I traveled to Germany and purchased a 200 MB international data plan, and when it became obvious that I wasn’t going to use anywhere close to 200 MB, I decided to keep my money’s worth and just use the heck out of it. So we had the GPS on continually, and used Windows Phone as a GPS while driving around. We never turned off the data. (And still didn’t hit 200 MB, grr.)
But even with the skewed August numbers, the average of those three months is 139 MB. This is well under the low-end AT&T 200 MB tier.
I will continue tracking this going forward, of course. But based on my own regular usage, I don’t believe that Windows Phone will use more data than other smart phones. Again, not scientific. But it is at least real-world, ahem, data.