“Data Caps” Got You Down? 5 Things You Should Know About Smartphone Plans

Got a smartphone? Thinking of getting one? If so, keep an eye on the plans that carriers are offering to give you access to the Internet. The trend is definitely toward replacing unlimited data plans with capped data plans. Why? Because smartphone users keep doing the same thing: using their smartphones a lot!

In fact, smartphone users have nearly doubled their data use during the past year, mostly because they’re using more apps. This means that people with unlimited plans are getting twice the data usage they used to get for the very same price — talk about consumer advantage! On top of that, the smartphone market continues to explode. Smartphone use grew by 10% last quarter alone and smartphone users now make up 37% of all subscribers.

So it’s no surprise that the four major carriers keep rethinking how to control access to their infrastructures and price their products. If you have a smartphone, here’s what you should know:

1. 96% of smartphone users use less than 2GB of data. So unless you’re streaming a ton of video, radio or using your smartphone as a WiFi hot spot, choosing a plan with a 2GB data cap should give you all the app and Web access you could want.

2. Verizon Wireless got rid of its unlimited plans in July (following AT&T‘s lead last year), although existing customers can keep their unlimited plans.

3. T-Mobile still offers unlimited plans but they’re hybrid plans that switch from a fast to a slow data rate once you reach a certain usage point.

4. Sprint is the only major carrier bucking the trend. It recently announced it’s keeping unlimited plans (at least for now) because people like them better.

5. Carriers get a psychological advantage with capped data plans because they scare you away from using your smartphone and reaching your data limit.

How much data do you use a month? Hop over to your account on your carrier’s website and find out. Or dowload an app to track it for you.