The amount of data used by radio apps can vary depending on a number of factors, including the quality of the audio stream, the duration of the listening session, and the specific features of the app.
Streaming radio in higher quality, such as in high-definition, will consume more data than streaming in lower quality.
On average, streaming radio over a mobile network for one hour at a low-quality 64 kbps stream will consume approximately 40-50 MB of data. Streaming the same radio station for one hour at a high-quality 128 kbps stream will consume approximately 80-100 MB of data.
Rough estimations per hour would be:
- 64kbps: 30 MB per hour
- 128kbps: 58 MB per hour
- 256kbps: 115 MB per hour
- 320kbps: 144 MB per hour
Many apps nowadays will allow you to select the stream quality. For TuneIn, within the settings, there are options for low, standard and high.
However, you can’t set the specific bitrate because it is the radio stations themselves that set the bitrates for the different stream qualities.
For example, BBC Radio 1 has, or did have, 8 different streams. You have the main web stream via the BBC website then:
- HTTP Streams : Worldwide stream (Shoutcast, 128 Kbps MP3)
- HLS Streams
- Worldwide stream (48 Kbps AAC+)
- Worldwide stream (96 Kbps AAC+)
- UK-only stream (128 Kbps AAC)
- UK-only stream (320 Kbps AAC)
- MPEG DASH Streams
- Worldwide stream (48–96 Kbps AAC+) (adaptive bitrate)
- UK-only stream (128–320 Kbps AAC) (adaptive bitrate)
Some apps will also allow you to download the radio stations or podcasts for offline listening. This allows users to listen to the content without using any data at all. Though, it will obviously not be the live feed.
It's also worth noting that, if you're using a streaming service like Spotify or Pandora, they will also consume data in addition to the radio app. The Samsung Galaxy S series used to have it, but it looks like they stopped including it going back to the Galaxy S7. Some of the lower specced Samsung Galaxy devices do still have radio tuners.
Radio tuners are still included on a lot of phones from Chinese brands. It looks like Poco, Redmi and Motorolla are your best options here. The Poco X4 GT and Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro+ both include one.
Some phones actually have an FM tuner, allowing you to listen to radio with no data usage at all. This feature has fallen out of fashion