Zombie Android Phone Devouring All Your Data? Shoot It In the Head With 11 Free Tips & Tricks

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android tips and tricksFor anyone with a limited data cellular plan, data consumption can become incredibly expensive, very quickly. Overage fees generally cost hundreds of dollars a month – and your phone secretly uses data without your knowledge, without proper configuration.

Matt provided a great starting point Saving Mobile Data: 5 Clever Ways To Reduce Data Usage Saving Mobile Data: 5 Clever Ways To Reduce Data Usage If 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... Read More for paring down data consumption. This article expands on the ideas laid down by Matt. It details eleven data saving tips, apps, configuration methods and general strategies for keeping your phone bill down.

#1 Manage Mobile Data With a Widget

Switching off data and manually managing it using a widget remains the most effective means of keeping data costs low. While I find the use of widget distasteful, Android’s default operating system provides no single-tap method of accessing the phone’s data connection. Therefore a widget provides our only option of rapidly managing data connection. My recommendation is Data ON-OFF as it’s both simple and easy to use.

In Android 4.0 and later, adding a widget to your home-screen is very easy:

  • Install Data ON-OFF and then go to the app drawer.
  • Choose “Widgets” from the tab up top.
  • Find the widgets and drag it to your home-screen. In older versions of Android, you must long press on the home-screen in order to access your widgets.

android tips and tricks

#2 Manage WiFi Using a Widget

Matt already elaborated on the necessity of using WiFi as often as possible, as it cuts down on data usage. However, it’s often useful to quickly disable WiFi, or other wireless features using a widget.

Stock Android offers a wireless management widget, which controls five of your phone’s functions: (1) WiFi, (2) Bluetooth, (3) GPS, (4) sync, (5) screen brightness.

Just go to the app drawer and select Widgets. Then choose Power control and drag it to your home-screen. When you turn off WiFi, also remember to turn off sync.

android tips

#3 Find Free WiFi

Finding it for free, however, can present something of an issue. Fortunately, MakeUseOf provides substantial information How to Get Free Wi-Fi Almost Anywhere How to Get Free Wi-Fi Almost Anywhere Public wireless networks are becoming more and more popular as a means of attracting people to a particular business or service, and this is just one of the many ways in which free (or almost... Read More on where WiFi flows freely.

#4 Optimize Your Browser For Limited Data Usage

One of my favorite mobile browsers, Naked Browser Low-End Android Phone? Try the Ultra-Light Fast & Secure Naked Browser Low-End Android Phone? Try the Ultra-Light Fast & Secure Naked Browser Strangely enough, one of the fastest browsers available for Android remains virtually unheard of, despite its stalwart security, swift browsing speed and feature rich interface. In comparison, all of the other major browsers match-up poorly... Read More , permits users to shut off image and javascript loading. Doing so dramatically cuts down on data usage, although it will impact website compatibility. I suggest leaving Javascript on, but disabling images won’t dramatically impact you.

Simply go to Settings and then Block images.

android tips

#5 Get Pocket

Another handy app for reading articles offline is Pocket. Pocket can save a very large number of articles to your phone’s memory, for later offline consumption.

For more information on Pocket, read James’s great article Pocket - The Ultimate Digital Bookmarking Service Pocket - The Ultimate Digital Bookmarking Service As Bakari previously reported, the well loved Read It Later - which enabled users to save articles to read later from a bookmarklet or various apps it was integrated with - was discontinued and replaced... Read More .

android tips

#6 JustReader’s Offline Mode

Out of all the RSS Android apps, JustReader syncs the best with Google Reader. Additionally, it can be configured to function offline, as well. I use it to load up on content while connected to WiFi and then pull it out while away from home.

Just open the app and go to Settings. Once in settings, go to Synchronization.

android tricks

Pick mode then choose offline and you’re done. From now on, whenever you connect to WiFi, a copy of your Google Reader account will save itself to your phone.

android tricks

#7 Google Voice Instead Of SMS

Google Voice allows your phone to receive SMS over a data connection. Even the cheapest SMS plans charge outrageous amounts. Also, the GV app allows transcription of voicemail, which saves on talk minutes. You won’t often need to check your voicemail.

#8 Turn Automatic Sync Off On All Apps

I highly encourage turning off automatic account syncing for all of Google’s service. Although the Gmail app uses a minimal amount of data, it will help you tremendously to shut off all account syncing and doing everything manually.

android tips and tricks

#9 Don’t Use Ad-Supported Apps. PERIOD.

Ad supported apps will, aside from draining your battery and reducing performance, transmit data pertaining to banner ads, which can consume significant amounts of data.

In my experience, because some of these apps start on boot and run in the background, data usage adds up very quickly and without much warning. A paid, or totally free, app likely won’t suffer from such issues.

#10 Offline Wikis

I’ve written before on how offline wikis can help travelers Hitchhike Your Way Around The Internet With Three Free Apps [Android] Hitchhike Your Way Around The Internet With Three Free Apps [Android] Everyone who has heard, seen or read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy remembers the eponymous Guide, a source of vast and questionable knowledge, which bailed out or confused the travelers, time and again. You... Read More in remote places. However, offline guides can also help those seeking to save money on their cellular bill. On the downside, my favorite app, Wiki Encyclopedia Offline – Free [No Longer Available] takes up 3.5 GB of data on your phone.

#11 Use a Cloud Browser

Browsers such as Opera Mobile Optimize Your Mobile Browsing With The Opera Mini Browser Optimize Your Mobile Browsing With The Opera Mini Browser Read More , UC Browser, Maxthon and Puffin all render images on another server. Normally, whenever you visit a website, your browser downloads the full-sized pictures, even though these images display on a very small mobile screen. A cloud browser’s host server receives that image and resizes it to fit on your screen. This method saves both processing power and bandwidth.

While there are some privacy concerns regarding this technique, provided that you do not visit sensitive sites, you have nothing to worry about.


No one should have an unlimited data plan, except extremely heavy users.

Consider the following: The average user consumes no more than 150-250 megabytes of data, yet his contract includes unlimited data use that he never uses. The average smartphone contract ranges between $60 and $80 a month. Why continue overpaying?

One way to trim costs down is to switch to a limited data plan and then customize your phone to use less data.

Image Credits: Antenna via MorgueFile.com

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  1. android underground
    March 10, 2013 at 6:30 am

    Rooted phone? Use AdAway so you don't waste data on banners or worse (works for all your apps and all your web browsers), run a firewall like avast or AFWall+ to tame apps that work offline but try to go online anyway.

    Ad blockers and firewalls do more than cutting down your data bill. They also make your battery last longer. Especially when you block ads that suck your battery dry by polling your GPS location.

    If you believe that blocking ads kills apps and websites, just tell your firewall to let your apps play online on WiFi but block 'em on 2/3/4G.

  2. Jim Metzger
    March 9, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Thanks for all the great tips!

    I am one of those "semi-heavy" data users. Data packages that are required by carriers for "smartphones" are a ripoff for most. After playing games with the carriers over the years (required packages, contracts, etc.), we finally went with Virgin Mobile in the US. They are ideal for those of us who don't have our smartphones attached to our ears 24x7 but rather our eyes. More than enough minutes and unlimited text and data for half the price of most carriers, plus no contract. Downside is that their phones are not as cheap (most are reasonable) and they do allow inbound unlocked phones. Yes, unlimited means speed throttled after I think 2GB, but even when throttled, it is faster than most.

  3. Max
    March 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Off-topic question, but what's the wallpaper with the triangles on your homescreen?

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 9, 2013 at 9:47 pm

      That's one of the new stock wallpapers, I think introduced in Jelly Bean (or maybe ICS). I believe someone added them in the Play Store, but I couldn't check for myself:

      [Broken Link Removed]

  4. Rustam Iminov
    March 9, 2013 at 4:50 am

    I think this it what everybody does, but nice to see it in here