Android iPhone and iPad

Saving Mobile Data: 5 Clever Ways To Reduce Data Usage

Matt Smith 14-02-2013

reduce data usageIf you’re on a limited mobile data plan, you may find opening your bill to be harrowing experience. Is there an overage charge? How much? And why was there so much data used? While the charges are concrete, the reasons are often harder to understand.


You’re not powerless, however. With the right apps, and a change of habits, you can make overage charges a thing of the past.

Here’s how to reduce data usage and defeat the mobile bill boogyman.

Use WiFi At Home

Almost every smartphone or tablet that’s capable of cellular data also includes a Wi-Fi radio. You can use this to connect to a home wireless network Wireless Feng Shui: How to Optimize Wi-Fi Reception in Your House Setting up a Wi-Fi router for optimum coverage isn't as easy as you think. Use these tips to cover your whole house with Wi-Fi! Read More just as you would connect a laptop or desktop PC, and once connected, cellular data won’t be used.

Both Android and iOS users can connect to a wireless network by opening the Settings menu, switching Wi-Fi on and then tapping the Wi-Fi entry to open a list of available networks. Just enter your home network’s security key and you’re done.

reduce data usage


Users on iOS can further refine usage by going to Settings -> General -> Cellular. Scroll to the bottom of that menu and you’ll see the option to turn cellular data on or off for various services. Turning them all off will reduce data usage.

You can also use Wi-Fi outside your home, though security concerns do apply.

Use A Data Monitor To Keep An Eye On Usage

Android added a built-in data monitor into Android 4.0. It can be accessed through Settings -> Data Usage and will show you how data has been used per-app and overall. Tapping on an app in this menu will open its data usage settings if any are available.

reduce mobile data usage


Apple’s iOS provides a less detailed breakdown under Settings -> General -> Usage -> Cellular Usage. You can see how much data has been sent and received overall, but not per-app. You’ll need to download an app like Data Master Use Data Master To Keep Track Of Your iPhone's Data Usage [iOS, Free For A Limited Time] In the United States, there was a time not long ago when everyone with an iPhone had unlimited data. It was actually a requirement with AT&T. If you wanted to walk into an AT&T store... Read More or Onavo.

Once you have a data monitor, you’ll be able to see what apps are data hogs. Once that is known, those apps can have their data access curtailed or can be un-installed completely. You can also keep an eye on yourself – perhaps data is being used by obsessive YouTube streaming!

Disable Push Content

Push content Boxcar - The Ultimate Push Notification App for iOS Devices Read More is any data that’s automatically “pushed” to your phone without user interaction. It isn’t a data hog during normal use, but not everyone’s usage is normal. A high volume of emails or constant use of multiple social networks may slowly and steadily put data use at dangerous levels.

reduce mobile data usage


Android users with a 4.0 or better device can disable push content per-app through the Data Usage menu we already mentioned. Just tap on an app in that menu, then tap the View App Settings button. Users can also change the sync settings of Facebook, Google and other accounts by going to Settings -> Accounts or Settings -> Accounts and Sync (on pre-4.0 devices).

Those with an iOS device can find relevant options under Settings -> Notifications. Each individual app with notifications will be listed here. You can also turn off cellular data for specific iOS integrated features by visiting Settings -> General -> Cellular.

Stream With Caution

Streaming HD video is a chief consumer of mobile data. Just one hour of streaming HD – barely enough for a television episode or half a movie – can eat through two gigabytes of data. That’s more than many basic data plans offer for an entire month of usage.

reduce mobile data usage


Standard definition can still consume a lot of data, but it’s a fraction of HD. Yes, the quality will be lower – but what other choice do you have? High overage charges make streaming an HD movie more expensive than buying the same title at the store once your data limit is exceeded.

Use of streaming music should be carefully monitored, as well. Though it requires less data per minute than HD video, it’s much easier to stream for extremely long periods of time. A service like Spotify can consume a low-end data plan’s monthly allotment with about forty hours of use. That may seem extreme, but it’s easy to hit that limit if you listen to music during a long commute or at work.

Use 3G To Discourage Consumption

Most of today’s high-end mobile devices support 4G data What Is 4G, And Is Your Mobile Really Getting 4G Speeds? [MakeUseOf Explains] This ads will tell you that 4G is awesome. Fast as lightening, or a motorbike, or a race car. But what does that mean in the real world? Is a 4G phone really going to... Read More . This allows for speeds that exceed many home Internet connections, but faster speeds mean quicker use of the data you’re allowed.

reduce data usage

You can reduce data usage by downgrading to 3G. Android devices can be troublesome because of different manufacturer skins and carrier restrictions, but there are apps like 4G Toggle [Broken Link Removed] that work with many devices. Others, like 4G Toggle for EVO [Broken Link Removed], only work with a specific phone or tablet.

If you have an iOS device, the steps are easier. Just go to Settings -> Cellular and turn Enable LTE to off.

When on 3G you’ll likely find that HD video won’t play smoothly. Streaming music may buffer, as well, if the 3G connection is not strong. Please note that this option does not decrease the data used by content. Instead it’s a mental trick. You’ll no longer be able to access HD content or large downloads quickly, so you’ll be less likely to do so.


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.  All the more reason to choose unlimited data – if a carrier in your area offers it.

Related topics: Bandwidth, Data Usage, Wi-Fi.

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  1. Mathur Vadadoriya
    September 23, 2016 at 10:07 am

    If someone is really concerned about data usage they should consider downloading "Datasaver - Dot apps Studio" .

    In my case, I managed to reduce by 90% my original data consumption on my 4G cell phone.
    Datasaver allows to restrict selected apps to stop using internet on Mobile Data (when not connected on Wi-Fi). So it automatically blocks such apps to use internet data when you are not connected to Wi-Fi.

    Very useful app for those who are looking to reduce their mobile data usage.

  2. harsh mudgil
    June 15, 2016 at 4:36 am

    use opera mini with about 90% less data usage on android and the quality of content is also good

  3. Mark
    May 21, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    When I use my Android phone as a hotspot (tethering) I use TripMode to reduce the mobile data usage. Up to know it did the job pretty well. TripMode activates itself automatically and simply blocks windows updates, dropbox and other apps that I do not necessarly use when on tethering.

  4. Connor
    January 26, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    You can also use Noosfeer to dramatically reduce your data usage to read news, blog posts, articles, etc... It works wonderfully, even in slow connection or offline.

  5. sima
    January 26, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    I'm using an application called NEOPARD for the same purpose and it works fine. ~32% of data savings last month.

  6. frank
    December 11, 2014 at 10:14 am

    There are some apps which can set the speed for 3G/4G mobile , wifi and tethering hotspot , this can drastically save data and increase the data plan lifetime.
    I use " Bandwidth rule free " and it's working fine .

  7. frank
    December 11, 2014 at 10:12 am

    There are some apps which can set the speed for 3G/4G mobile , wifi and tethering hotspot , this can drastically save data and increase the data plan lifetime.
    I use " Bandwidth rule free " and it's working fine .

  8. Bruce Carrie
    February 18, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I use Onavo Count to monitor my data usage, identify data hogs and switch apps to Wi-Fi only.

  9. selw0nk
    February 15, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Turn off data when you are not using it. This also saves battery life.

  10. Nevzat Akkaya
    February 15, 2013 at 6:58 am

    4G anyone? I'm using Edge to conserve battery and data :) Poor me.

  11. Daniel
    February 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    If someone is really concerned about data usage they should consider getting Opera Mobile. In my case, I managed to reduce by 90% my original data consumption.
    Opera Mobile works like this: you send a request, opera servers compress the data and send it to your phone. This is great, but the fact that your requests go to an opera server might become a deal breaker for some for security/privacy reasons. However, it is a great way to check your facebook, twitter, the news and other non-sensitive sites on the go.

    • kt
      February 24, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      Would it save me data of I am using the Google map using it a lot.