Sounds extreme, we know, but if you’re in an area where there’s available Wi-Fi then there’s precious little reason to use the mobile network at all. That’s particularly true when you’re traveling, because data roaming can cost enormous amounts of money compared to cheap or free Wi-Fi. If you’re planning a trip or just find yourself in a new place, a Wi-Fi finder app such as - yes! - Wi-Fi Finder can help you find out where the local hotspots are.
2. Don’t upload snaps and clips when you’re out and about
The 14MP camera in your Samsung Galaxy S6 takes great shots for sure, but those shots are mahooooosive: while individual file sizes depend on what you’re actually shooting, 40MB for a single photo isn’t unusual. If you’ve got automatic uploading enabled for the likes of Flickr, that’s an enormous amount of data you’re shifting - and because uploads count towards your monthly data limits just as much as downloads do, that’s an enormous amount of your data allowance that you’re using up.
It’s even more dramatic if you’re sharing your every moment on YouTube or similar services. A single minute of HD video can be as large as 200 MB in size, so you don’t need to upload much to burst even the biggest data allowance. As with anything that uses a metered connection, it’s worth looking at your settings and asking whether you need to have everything turned up to the max: if you’re sharing video for other smartphone users, do you really need full HD, or would 720p do the job just as well?
3. Don’t stream stuff
If you’re constantly streaming music or movies to your phone you’ll go through your allowance in no time at all, so it makes sense to use apps’ offline modes wherever possible - and to do the downloading on Wi-Fi, not when you’re on the mobile data network. If you’re streaming Spotify or a similar service at 320 Kbps, you’ll churn through 133 MB of data in an hour (more or less: streaming services cache tracks, so repeated listens don’t use as much data); if you’re streaming videos in full HD you’re ticking off around 15 MB per minute. That’s nearly a gigabyte per hour.
We appreciate that it isn’t always practical to stop streaming altogether, and if that’s the case for you it’s worth paying attention to your streaming settings. For example, unless you’ve got really good headphones there’s precious little difference between a 320 Kbps music stream and a 160 Kbps one, especially if you’ll be listening somewhere noisy like a train, on a bus or in the street. But dialling it down to 160 Kbps halves the data usage.
Halving the bitrate halves the file size too, and that is worth bearing in mind if you’re trying to cram lots of music onto your SD card or internal storage.
4. Communicate entirely in Emoji
If you want to keep your data usage low, stick to instant messages and stay away from voice calls in WhatsApp or video calls in Skype. A typical voice call over the internet uses 3 MB for five minutes, while the same chat using video takes around 20 MB for the same five-minute period.
If you’ve ever picked up your phone to see Google Play going crazy with endless updates to apps you’d forgotten you even had, that alone will make an enormous difference to your device’s data consumption.
6. Choose free apps wisely
William Halfond and researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the US and Queen’s University in Canada tested the top apps of the last year on a Samsung Galaxy S2 loaded with monitoring tools, and they discovered that free apps do all kind of uploading and downloading when they blast you with ads. The researchers found that apps with ads used as much as 100% more data than ad-free ones, and on average they used 79% more network data. Not paying for ad-free apps could actually be costing you money.
Have you encountered any mobile data disasters? Have you found a fantastic way to cut down on data use or an app that squeezes more through your connection? Let us know in the comments!