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How much data does Spotify use? Probably less than you think

Streaming music burns through data, but is Spotify the worst offender?
By
June 1, 2022
Spotify on a phone next to a guitar
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

How much data does Spotify use? It depends on the sound quality you choose. The higher it is, the more data the streaming service will burn through. In any case, Spotify uses way less data than video streaming services (more on this later) and probably less than most people think.

The Spotify Android app lets you choose between five sound quality settings: “Low” (24kbps), “Normal” (96kbps), “High” (160kbps), “Very high” (320kbps), and Automatic (dependent on your network connection). It’s important to note that the “Very high” option is only available to Spotify Premium subscribers.

Don’t miss: Here’s everything you need to know about Spotify

How to change the audio quality on the Spotify app:

  1. Open the Spotify app and sign in if you haven’t.
  2. Tap on the Gear icon.
  3. Scroll down to the Audio Quality section.
  4. Here, you’ll be able to set audio quality settings for different situations. These include Wi-Fi streaming, Cellular streaming, and Download.
  5. Tap on the drop-down menus next to each section and make your selections.

How much data does Spotify use?

To simplify things as much as possible, we’ve prepared an overview of how much data each setting uses per minute and hour, as well as how long you’d have to stream music to burn through 1GB of data. Keep in mind these numbers are approximate, but it comes out to 0.5MB to 8MB per song. Spotify can cache songs you’ve previously listened to, meaning they may not eat up the same amount of data the second time you play them.

Low (24kbps):

  • Per minute: 0.18MB
  • Per hour: 10.8MB
  • How long until you reach 1GB: 92.5 hours

Normal (96kbps):

  • Per minute: 0.72MB
  • Per hour: 43.2MB
  • How long until you reach 1GB: 23.1 hours

High (160kbps):

  • Per minute: 1.2MB
  • Per hour: 72MB
  • How long until you reach 1GB: 13.8 hours

Very high (320kbps):

  • Per minute: 2.4MB
  • Per hour: 144MB
  • How long until you reach 1GB: 6.9 hours

Also: The best data plans for every type of user

Spotify vs. the competition

Spotify stock photo 8
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Now that you know how much data Spotify uses, let’s see how the numbers compare to video streaming. Watching HD content on Netflix uses up to 3GB of data per hour at high definition or as much as 7GB when the resolution gets bumped up to Ultra HD. Medium quality (SD) isn’t as data-intensive, burning through 0.7GB per hour. Still, that’s almost five times as much as streaming music with the best sound quality available (320kbps).

What about Spotify’s competitors? Deezer offers a maximum audio bitrate of 320kbps, using approximately 144MB of data per hour. So does Tidal, although it also has a Hi-Fi plan with a bitrate of 1,411kbps for improved sound quality. It uses quite a bit more data, coming in at around 635MB per hour. Master Quality streams at a whopping 9,216kbps, if you really want to kick Tidal into high gear. On the other hand, Apple Music and YouTube Music have maximum bitrates of 256kbps, translating to around 115MB of data per hour.

An important thing to keep in mind is that Spotify and other streaming services mentioned in this post let you download songs to your phone, which means you don’t have to use any data when listening to music.


Next: The best music streaming apps and services

FAQs

The Very high setting is exclusive to Spotify Premium subscribers. You won’t be able to use it if you are using the service’s free version.

Prices start at $9.99 for an individual account. Learn more about the prices here.

It depends on how keen your ear is to sound quality, and how much attention you’re paying. That said, it’s easy to tell the difference between the Low and Very high settings. The lower setting doesn’t necessarily sound bad, though.