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Tuesday 22 Nov 2016 | 3 min read

How to reduce your monthly mobile data usage

Photo of a person at a cafe smiling at a smartphone held in their hand

Have you ever wondered ‘Where did all my data go?’ Mobile bills can be frustrating that way. One month you’ve only used up 50%, the next you’re down to your last 10 megabytes and there’s still a fortnight to go. Here are our tips for managing your mobile data, and making the most out of your smartphone.

Know which apps use the most data

Reducing your monthly mobile data means smaller bills and more money in your pocket. You might think that streaming music is potentially one of the biggest mobile bill data hogs. While it’s true that an hour of streaming music on the train will cost you around 50MB on average, that’s nothing compared to an hour spent on social media.

Between resource intensive apps like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, the average mobile browser can rack up close to a 100MB of data an hour. Pair that with your music stream, and you’re looking at over 3-4 gigabytes a month for one hour of usage a day.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to tell which apps are using the most data.

On iPhone go to Settings > Mobile
On Android go to Settings > Data Usage> Data usage cycle

Here you will find all the important information about which aps are the biggest resource and data hogs. Once you’ve identified them, take action.

Big players love big data

Apps like Facebook love using your data. You can limit Facebook’s ability to monopolise your precious data with a quick change in the app settings. By turning off autoplay on videos you’ll only see videos play when you give them permission. To do this through the app, go to:

Settings > Videos and Photos > Auto-play > disable Smart Auto-play > select Use Wi-Fi Only.

You can also familiarise yourself with your privacy levels. Social media apps have a knack of making these functions difficult to find, but if you poke around you can usually find what you are looking for.

Update apps only over WiFi

While the average mobile user might spend the majority of their time in about 7 apps, most of us have dozens, maybe even hundreds on our phones. Apps need to update, but if you only allow updating over WiFi, you’ll save yourself hundreds of MBs of data usage every month.

Sync media over WiFi

While Netflix remains a streaming only service, there are entertainment apps that allow you to ‘sync’ (i.e. download) media to your device. Spotify and Play Music do, as well as Play Movies and YouTube Red (paid YouTube). By preloading your music and video to your phone, you can happily catch up on Game of Thrones – without eating into your mobile data.

Google Maps also lets you download local areas. This is very useful if you do a lot of travelling during the day, but want to save on data costs.

Better browsing habits

It would be hard to find someone who doesn’t admit they should probably spend a bit more time off their phone. But saving browsing data isn’t just about putting the phone away. There are three things you can do to your browser to ensure you’re getting the most data efficient experience possible:

  • Preserve the browser cache: While it takes up a bit of storage the cache saves images and elements from frequently visited websites, restoring the data if you frequently return to those sites

  • Use mobile optimised browser: While Chrome and Safari are still working on being more lean, mobile browsers like Opera Mini provided a streamlined and data friendly platform across both mobile operating systems

  • Avoid desktop view: While mobile browsers offer mobile responsive websites as a default, we sometimes need to use desktop view to get all the features. Make sure you turn this toggle off when you’re not using it, as desktop versions of websites are, on average, more data intensive

Save the data

Avoid the costly pitfalls of using up your data prematurely with these insights and tips. Is there something we’ve missed? A data-saving gem you’ve discovered? If you’ve uncovered something great, we’d love for you to share it with us. Let us know at the Aussie Broadband Facebook Page.

Tags:Think like an AussieMobileMobile data

Written by

Headshot of John

John Reisinger

Chief Technology Officer

John has worked in the telecommunications industry since 2001. He was a co-founder of Wideband Networks in 2003 and has held the role of Chief Technology Officer since 2008. John brings strong technical expertise and acumen to the role and ...

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