Spotify menu on a smartphone in a person's hand

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). You can access these options by heading to Settings > Music Quality on your Android phone.

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To simplify things as much as possible, I’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

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, which uses 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 around 635MB per hour. Master Quality streams at a whopping 7.5MB per minute if you really want to kick Tidal into high gear. On the other hand, Apple Music and YouTube Music have maximum bitrates of 256kbps, which translates to around 115MB of data per hour.

See also: Top Spotify tips to get more out of your account

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 at all when listening to music.