6 Easy Ways to Get Your Smartphone to Use Less Data

It’s relatively easy to figure out how much data you use each month, and how much data you really need in a new mobile plan. But if you find yourself getting dangerously close to your data allowance each month, you may be looking for some easy ways to get your smartphone to use less data. Read on for some easy ways to save data on your iPhone or Android smartphone, so that you don’t end up with any scares or surprises when you pay your next bill.

1. Leave some activities for when you’re connected to Wi-Fi

There are some tasks that should wait until your phone is connected to Wi-Fi

There are some tasks that should wait until your phone is connected to Wi-Fi | Source: iStock

As J.D. Biersdorfer reports for The New York Times, leaving data-heavy activities, like uploading photos and videos to Instagram or Facebook, for when you’re connected to Wi-Fi is a straightforward way to start saving megabytes. The next time you’re connected to your home or office Wi-Fi network, download the documents, music, and videos you’ll need for offline use, which will save you the data that you’d otherwise consume streaming or downloading them on the go.

2. Use mobile websites instead of apps

man holding smartphone and smiling

Using a mobile website instead of an app can save on data | Source: iStock

The Times notes that another way that you can save some data is to opt for the mobile version of websites like Facebook instead of using the app. Facebook’s app is notorious for using lots of data to update in the background, and you might be better off just checking in to the mobile site instead of leaving the app logged in. Check which of your apps are consuming the most data, and if you suspect that background activity is the culprit, either turn it off or opt for the company’s website instead.

3. Install an ad blocker

Ad blockers are controversial, but can reduce your data usage significantly

Ad blockers are controversial, but can reduce your data usage significantly | David Ramos/Getty Images

If you’re planning on shifting some or most of your app activity to your smartphone’s browser, you can conserve more data by downloading an ad blocker. Depending on the sites that you frequent, an ad blocker can save you significant amounts of data (and time). Ad-blocking is a complicated issue, and you may want to whitelist or support your favorite sites in another way if you opt to block ads. But keeping your phone from loading all of the ads on each web page you visit can be a good way to conserve data.

4. Use a browser with data-saving tools

Some browsers have features specifically meant to save data

Some browsers have features specifically meant to save data | Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

Some apps are equipped with features that help them save on data, and a few that just about everyone can benefit from are mobile browsers. The Times notes that Google Chrome for Android (but not iOS) has a Data Saver feature to reduce the amount of data the app downloads, and alternative browsers like Opera Mini, which is available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, also have their own data-saving features. The separate Opera for Android browser even offers video compression.

5. Check your settings

Your phone's OS has lots of settings that you can change to cut your data consumption

Your phone’s OS has lots of settings that you can change to cut your data consumption | Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

Recent versions of Android, iOS, and Windows phone all have settings that enable you to track your data usage. You can check which of the apps are using the most data, and turn off background activity in order to keep apps from downloading information when you aren’t actively using them. On Android, you can stop apps from downloading updates when your device isn’t connected to Wi-Fi, and you can use the Data Usage to set up warnings or limits on your downloads.

6. Turn off data for some apps

Cutting some apps' data privileges altogether can be a temporary or permanent solution

Cutting some apps’ data privileges altogether can be a temporary or permanent solution | Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

This won’t work for things like your go-to navigation app or the messaging app you use to talk to your friends all day, but you can opt to turn off data for some apps. It sounds like an extreme measure, but it can either act as a permanent safeguard against using them without Wi-Fi, or as a temporary reminder that you need to watch your usage. Turning off data in Apple Music, for instance, will remind you to listen to one of the albums you’ve saved offline instead of consuming data by streaming music, which may prompt you to tell the app to download all your favorites when you get home and connect to your Wi-Fi network.

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