You’re probably using more mobile data than you need to. If you’re overpaying for an unlimited plan, by all means use as much as you possibly can. If you’ve realized that there’s a smarter way to do mobile though, then read on.
If you’re not interested in using your smartphone less, don’t sweat it! Often, all it takes is switching on a setting or scheduling a download to cut your monthly mobile data usage by half.
Our first six simple tips to save on mobile data post garnered a ton of helpful reader tips and feedback. So, we’re doing the redux!
Following is a list of popular apps that include options to reduce the amount of data sent across a mobile network. We also include a section on Google’s universal toggle for disabling mobile data, so if you’re only interested in one data saving tip today, make it this one!
It’s important to understand the apps you’re downloading and what they can actually do on your smartphone. Spending a few minutes after installing the app to check out its specific settings can make a world of difference in your monthly usage.
Google Play, for example, might catch you by surprise and update your apps in the background while on a mobile network.
To ensure app updates will only download over Wi-Fi:
Google Play navigation bar > Settings > (General) Auto-update apps > select “Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only”
By default, Instagram will automatically preload videos upon opening the app, regardless of your network connection. This means that every video in your feed will buffer even if you weren’t going to watch it, needlessly using your mobile data. Fortunately, Instagram is looking out for the data-conscious by adding a cellular data use toggle.
To enable this setting:
Instagram profile > Settings bar > Cellular Data Usage > check “Use Less Data”
Snapchat pre-downloads photos and videos so you don’t have to wait for content to load when you open the app. This is a neat feature, but Snapchat can end up using a lot of mobile data if you’re often out and about.
They recently added a “Travel Mode” toggle which gives you control over your Snapchat data usage. Snaps from friends, Stories and Discovery media will only load when you actually tap them, so you won’t be wasting your data on stuff you may not even look at.
To enable Travel Mode:
Swipe down on the main page to open your Snapchat profile > Settings icon (top right) > (Additional services) Manage > Travel Mode
Disabling image previews in your Twitter feed can significantly reduce the amount of mobile data being used, especially if your feed is actively syncing in the background.
To disable this feature, open Twitter and go to:
Twitter feed > Settings bar > Settings > General > uncheck “Image previews in timeline”
Avoid using your cellular network to stream videos you probably won’t even watch by heading to:
Twitter feed > Settings bar > Settings > General > Video autoplay
Did you know that you can reduce the quality of video while Skyping on your smartphone? If you’re not near a Wi-Fi connection, switching to low quality video will stream much less data across the mobile network.
To change the video quality inside Skype:
Skype navigation bar > Settings > (Voice and video calls) Video quality
If you enjoy listening to podcasts, make sure to download each episode over Wi-Fi instead of streaming them on-the-go and wasting your cellular data. Both Android and iOS podcast managers let you easily pre-download episodes so you have prompt access without paying a cent. Almost every app offers this feature, whether you’re using BeyondPod or PocketCasts on Android or Podcasts or Overcast on iOS.
Restricting data over a mobile network
By default, many Android applications come with specific permissions that may sync in the background and automatically download images, videos and other files. Whether it’s Gmail checking for new emails every five minutes, Dropbox backing up your photos and videos or Twitter refreshing your feed, your smartphone transmits a lot of data! It’s important to take a close look at the permissions an app is asking for when you install it, as many will sync in the background and use data without your knowledge. Google allows you to restrict mobile network syncing for all Android apps, or on an individual basis.
To turn off syncing for all Android apps:
Android Settings > (Wireless & Networks) Data usage > Settings bar > enable “Restrict background data”
To individually restrict Android apps:
Android Settings > (Accounts) Google > (Accounts) firstname.lastname@example.org > uncheck the apps you don’t want to sync
Smartphone users are quickly becoming wary of their mobile data usage as they realize that unlimited plans are a losing bet more often than not. It makes much more sense to pay a fair price for your actual usage.
Not sure how much you would save by switching to a pay-for-what-you-use provider? Check out Ting’s Savings Calculator and see for yourself!
Do you have your own tips to save on mobile data each month? We’d love to hear them in the comments below. We may even include your idea in our next data saving blog post!