3 simple tricks anyone can use to get the most out of Android’s mobile data

Tricks to get the most out of Android's mobile data

Tricks to get the most out of Android’s mobile data – image via Android.com

The price of phone plans with healthy data inclusions is falling all the time. Of course, that’s offset by the rise in people watching TV and Netflix on their phones (which uses a lot of mobile data) and a growing range of services we can access through our phones. People are also holding on to their phones for longer than ever. Over the course of the now 3-year average, you’ll own one, a mobile data plan can cost more than the device itself.

There is a growing range of phone plans with unlimited data in the market, all around the world. People buy them for the convenience of knowing they have all the mobile internet access they need and they won’t get a bill they’re not expecting. Phone companies love selling them. They know the truth. Almost no one needs a plan with unlimited data – if they use the facilities they have in Android to cut down your wasted usage.

In this article, we show you how you can halve your data utilization with a few simple toggles of settings in an Android phone. None of these tricks are hard, they’re all free – because they use the built-in capabilities of your Android software. They’re not quite hidden but finding and using them takes a bit of looking around in the data area of your settings.

For the purposes of this, we will assume that you know the basics – including the difference between metered cellular access and unlimited/free wifi access. Of course, you should be using the latter wherever you can.

1. How to get the basics in place

Start at the beginning. Go to Settings, Connections and have a look at how your phone is set up now. You’ll need to know some information from your service provider to make full use of these data limits but don’t worry, they’re not hard to find. Check your phone bill or the phone company’s self-service app.

How to get the basics in place 1 How to get the basics in place 2 How to get the basics in place 3
  1. Navigate to Settings and pick Connections.
  2. Choose Data usage.
  3. Now, set your Mobile data usage limit as your plan entitlement ( e.g. 2GB per month.) and your Billing cycle as the day of the month your plan renews.

2. How to Use Android’s Data limits & Data Measurement Facilities

Having used both extensively, I can tell you, Android is head and shoulders above Apple is in the facilities it offers to make users aware of how much data they’re using.

This facility is the one you should check most often – so you know whether you need to use the data management tools you have available.

How to use Android data limits and data measurement facilities 1 How to use Android data limits and data measurement facilities 2 How to use Android data limits and data measurement facilities 3
  1. Select Mobile data usage.
  2. You’ll see a chart showing you how much data you’re using per day and the day you used it on.
  3. Select these options to configure limits (as above).

3. How to use Android Data Saver

Android Data saver is a user configurable option – i.e. you can turn it off or on. It works across the device to minimize your data usage. Data Saver helps with the key problem that impacts your data usage. It helps you minimize background app data usage.

When Data saver is turned on, the apps you use will download low-resolution images (until you tap them), remove unnecessary images, use video from places like YouTube at a lower bitrate (baud) which has the most significant impact on your usage.

How to use Android Data saver 1 How to use Android Data saver 2 How to use Android Data saver 3
  1. Select Data saver.
  2. Toggle it on.

Bringing it all together

It’s good to have an idea of how to use these facilities, even if you don’t turn them on all the time. They can help you seek out another few days towards the end of the month. There’s a cost-benefit trade-off to consider here. It can be easier to ignore the data your phone is using and have a smoother experience of your phone than to put the data saver in place. It really depends on how much capacity you have available to you in your plan.

Alternatively, if you really want to lock your device down, you can go further than we’ve suggested here, by downloading and installing any one of a number of apps. Our pick of the bunch is Datally, a product from Google which could conceivably be the next generation of data management facilities Google build into the OS itself. Datally proactively tells you when you’ll be in the range of a wifi network and offers reviews of the strength of the connection. It uses a VPN to optimize the traffic transacted over the mobile network. It can be annoying getting all the notifications that Datally gives you but if you want to reduce your data usage beyond what Android can do on its own, it’s well worth considering.

This is a guest post by Neil Aitken.

Neil AitkenNeil Aitken is the editor in chief for WhatPhone.com.au. He has worked on small business telephony solutions in the past and has written on the subject of telco trends, innovation and SIM Plans for Business Insider, The Sydney Morning Herald, Vodafone Australia and Savings Room, one of Australia’s leading blogs.

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