Your smartphone is indispensable. There are a ton of data-hungry apps that improve your mobile experience. Cloud storage, audio and video streaming, web browsing, social media and so on can put a heavy demand on your mobile data connection.

Every megabyte must be accounted for, or you might find yourself paying a huge amount of money all the time buying data. But what’s a smartphone without data? Hopefully, here I’ll be able to help you set up limits and alerts to keep an eye on your mobile data usage, along with tips to maximize your data plans and curb unnecessary data usage.

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Set mobile data usage warning and limit

Most Android smartphones come with a data usage section that allows you to specify your data usage limits. Here is how to set monthly limits for mobile data use, so you get a warning when you are nearing your limit, and cut off cellular data.

Set data usage warning

You can set a warning to alert you when your mobile phone has used a certain amount of mobile data. To set a mobile data usage warning:

• Open your device’s Settings app Settings.
• Tap Data usage and then Cellular data usage and then Settings.
• Tap Data warning.
• Type an amount. To switch between megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB), tap the Down arrow.
• Tap Set.

When your mobile data usage reaches the level you chose, you’ll get a notification.

Set data usage limit

You can set a limit to automatically turn off mobile data for your device when your device has used a certain amount of mobile data. To set a data usage limit:

• Open your device’s Settings app Settings.
• Tap Data usage and then Cellular data usage.
• If it’s not already on, turn on your data limit.
• Tap Settings.
• Switch on Set data limit.
• Read the on-screen message and tap OK.
• Tap Data limit.
• Type an amount. To switch between megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB), tap the Down arrow.
• Tap Set.

When you reach your limit and your data automatically turns off, you’ll get a notification. To turn mobile data back on, follow the steps above and switch off Set data limit.

Note: Some features won’t work correctly when mobile data is turned off. But if your phone uses too much data, you can ignore this warning.

Restrict background mobile data

Now, let’s look into apps which are actually producing excessive amounts of background data. Head back to Settings > Wireless & Networks > Data Usage to see your apps, in order of data usage. You can tap on individual applications to see a more detailed view just like in the image below.

reduce mobile data usage

Here you can see the foreground and background usage.

Check the box labeled “Restrict Background Data”. This will limit its data usage from the operating system level. Note that this only applies to a mobile data connection – if you’re on Wi-Fi, Android will allow the app to use background data normally. Do this to all your apps which are using excessive data. But caution! This may cause some apps to stop working – especially Google apps and system apps.

Use Chrome’s data saver

If you are the type who do a lot of research online or just web browsing then the Chrome app on your mobile phone is probably one of the biggest culprits when it comes to eating up mobile data. But one of the many useful Chrome features is the ability to download compressed website data.

You can enable this feature in the settings, almost at the very bottom. Basically, it routes all of your traffic through a proxy run by Google that compresses the data before sending it to your phone. Basically, this not only results in lower data usage, but also makes pages load faster.

Go to settings > Data Saver, and set to “On”.

reduce mobile data usage

The above image is the screenshot of the data I saved in three days. This may vary based on how much data your mobile apps consume.

Disable Facebook video autoplay feature

Most of us use Facebook on regular basis either to connect friends and families or strictly for business. The Facebook Apps have to different versions – The lite version and the main one. If you want to save much mobile data, then download and install the lite version but you’ll be restricted to a number of features.

However, the main version comes with great features but takes a lot of your bundled data. But likewise the Chrome app, Facebook App comes with a feature that allow you reduce your data usage.

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Head to Help and Settings > App Settings > Autoplay, and either set it to “Wi-Fi Connections Only” or “Never Autoplay Videos“. The choice is yours.

reduce mobile data usage

Make sure apps aren’t auto-updating

Other culprits rapidly depleting your mobile data are apps that automatically download updates while not connected to a Wi-Fi network.

To make sure apps aren’t downloading these potentially large updates while you’re not aware and using mobile data, open up the Google Play Store and swipe from the left-hand side of the screen to open the Google Play Store menu.

reduce mobile data usage

Scroll down the menu and tap on Settings then make sure that under ‘Auto-update apps‘, you select ‘Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only‘.

Use apps offline

A good way of saving mobile data on Android is by finding out which of the apps you use have an offline mode. For example, Spotify enables you to save music and playlists to your device so you can listen to them without streaming.

By making your most-played songs and playlists available offline you could save yourself a lot of data – just make sure you download the songs while you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network. Third party music and video player apps should be used offline to prevent excessive use of data. Play games offline as much as possible.

Amazon Prime Video has also recently enabled you to download movies and TV shows to watch offline, and other apps such as Google Maps will now work offline, so it’s worth looking to see if your favorite apps feature an offline mode. Install offline dictionaries and bible apps.

Restrict your WhatsApp chat backup and media auto download

WhatsApp allows you to make a backup of your chats and media to the cloud. This means that it stores a copy of all your text chats, images and videos (not your voice calls though) on your Google Drive account so that you can retrieve them later, such as after changing phone or a re-installation. This WhatsApp feature helps a lot if you value your conversations and their contents.

Now your chat data does not need to be backup when you are on the go. You can wait till you reach a Wi-Fi hotspot to have it done. You can set that in Settings > Chats > Chat Backup, select Wi-Fi instead of Wi-Fi or Cellular. If you don’t want any backup of your chats, you can select ‘Never’ whenever the message pops up on your phone prompting you to back up your chats.

You are probably having over 100 WhatsApp contacts and in over 10 WhatsApp groups who send you images and videos ( most of which are unnecessary) every minute, which download automatically. This takes a lot of your data. You can actually save a good amount of mobile data by controlling what to download.

Open WhatsApp Settings > Chats and Calls > Media Auto Download > Images, Audio, Video > Wi-Fi. If you are on a serious ‘mobile data diet’, uncheck all. You can, of course, check all in the ‘When connected on Wi-Fi’ menu, which is the default setting.

reduce mobile data usage

Note that if you choose to not download multimedia items automatically, you will always be able to download them manually even on mobile data connection. In the WhatsApp chat area, there will be a placeholder for the item, which you can touch to download.

Before we leave WhatsApp, let’s do this last thing. Set WhatsApp to use less data during calls. The app has an option to save data during chats and calls. It allows you to lower the amount of data it uses during voice calls. To activate the data saving option, enter Settings > Data Usage. In the options, check ‘Low Data Usage’.

Disable Twitter video autoplay

If you’re on Twitter more often than not, you’ll likely have noticed that the official Twitter client for Android eats through your monthly data plan like there’s no tomorrow. One of the main culprits here is the app’s haphazard consumption, especially now that video is now more widely supported in the insidious form of GIFs and other animations that are all the rage.

Go to setting > Data usage. First click on ‘Video autoplay’ and check either ‘Wi-Fi only’ or ‘Never’. Come back and click on ‘High-quality video’ and check your preferred option.

reduce mobile data usage

These tips should help reduce your mobile data consumption. Unfortunately, most of them require that you partially cripple the full potential of your smartphone. Today’s devices are capable of amazing performance but often bound by ridiculous data plans.


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