[Updated: Jan 2016]
You don’t have to sacrifice the convenience of a connected smartphone just to save money on mobile data.
Here’s six things that’ll take you five minutes to do and can save you a ton of money each month.
Your smartphone is indispensable. There are a ton of varyingly data-hungry apps that improve your mobile experience. Cloud storage, audio and video streaming, rich browsing, turn-by-turn navigation and so on can put a heavy demand on your mobile data connection. Fortunately though, it’s easy to cut down on mobile data use without hindering your mobile experience.
If you have already figured out that “unlimited” and high-cap plans are a ploy, you’ll love these simple tips that will save you money on mobile data each month.
Google has implemented a feature that can greatly reduce the amount of data that the Chrome browser demands. Using Google’s servers, Chrome condenses images and other files to optimize page sites on your mobile device. They also give you a visual look at how much data you’ve saved over the past month using a simple line graph. According to Google, your data usage can be reduced by up to 50%!
To enable the “Reduce data usage” setting, head to:
Chrome menu > Settings > (Advanced) Data saver
You can download an area in Google Maps so that it uses less data when navigating to your destination. Not only does this save you tons of mobile data, it also improves the experience if you’re travelling through a low reception area.
While there’s some debate on the size of the cap, there is a limit on the amount of data you can cache. If surpassed, you’ll be asked to zoom on a smaller area.
To save a map for offline use, you have two options:
- Type OK Maps in the search bar and press enter (or use voice activation).
- Tap the search bar and scroll to the bottom of the page. Select “Make this map area available offline.”
Download Gmail attachments on Wi-Fi
Google allows you to automatically download Gmail attachments over Wi-Fi. If you’re a daily user of the Gmail app, this toggle could help you save big on network data!
To enable this setting:
Gmail menu > Settings > email@example.com > (Data Usage) Download attachments
Music streaming services
All of the popular audio streaming apps offer different ways to listen to your tunes without having to stream them over a network connection.
Spotify lets you download your albums and playlists. If you use Apple Music, you can add songs, albums and playlists to your library. With Google Play Music, you can download everything – songs, albums, playlists and radio stations.
Disable auto-play videos
Facebook recently added a feature that automatically plays videos in your newsfeed, regardless of if you wanted it to or not. To avoid unintentionally downloading these videos:
Facebook Left Navigational Panel > Settings > (General Settings) Auto-Play videos on Wi-Fi only
Is your favorite data-sucking app not listed? Make sure to check the app’s settings page for any data saving toggles that have been added. Developers are constantly improving their applications and may have included the feature since the last time you checked!
Onavo Extend and Opera Max
To save even more on your monthly bill, download a data compression app! While the quality of videos and images may be reduced, you’ll get faster load times within apps connecting to the mobile network. Users of image-heavy apps like Instagram or Flipboard will benefit greatly from these data-saving apps. We’ve listed two of our favorites below:
1- Onavo Extend is a free app that continuously runs in the background of your smartphone and directs your mobile data traffic through Onavo’s servers. This compression technology significantly reduces the amount of data sent across the mobile network, giving you the same experience at a reduced cost (assuming you’re with a pay-for-what-you-use provider).
2- While Opera has long offered an excellent compression browser, they recently announced Opera Max – an exclusive Android app that uses Opera’s servers to compress all the non-encrypted data sent to your Android device.
While similar to Onavo Extend, Max should fare even better for your pocket because it includes the ability to shrink down mobile video.
Interested in learning more about reducing your cellular data usage? Check out our second article, Six (more) simple tips to save money on smartphone mobile data!
How else do you save on mobile data each month? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments below. We may even include your idea in our next data saving blog post!