5 ways to keep your data costs low on an Android phone


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Wondering why you keep buying data bundles at a rate faster than you blink? Or those moments you constantly have to switch off your data for fear that your phone may misbehave and download unwanted info or auto update without your knowledge? It’s no puzzle; a data overage is to blame. You can discourage yourself from listening to too much online radio or watching Youtube or WhatsApp videos but its all useless especially if you are depriving yourself from the joys of the internet. Instead, I think it’s more productive to explore various ways and methods of cutting back on your mobile data consumption. To meet that end, I present five handy tips and suggestions.

Never let go of a Wi-Fi connection

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wifi_2155305bI think we have written enough editorials and feature stories about wi-fi for me to even expound more on this point. Duh. I mean, this isn’t 2001 when you had to explain what Wi-Fi actually is. We have had several Wi-Fi hotspots around the main city available at most locations and restaurants, I actually tell most of my friends to first look out for a Wi-Fi hotspot and hook in before they even consider ordering at any restaurant. Nowadays many phones or tablets will even alert you to available Wi-Fi hotspots. If that’s not hint enough then I don’t know what else will. Personally, I leave my phone’s Wi-Fi switched on since I carry around a portable MI-Fi mobile hotspot. With the recent rumors of Google rolling of wi-fi, am sure internet access in Kampala will never be a hustle to a point that every time your phone suggests a Wi-Fi connection it will make some telecom executive somewhere weep, especially if they don’t subscribe to it.


How do you use your mobile data?

Most of us believe the telecom companies are cheating us, and always question the billing capabilities of our dear carriers. Despite their wish to accumulate overcharges, mobile data carriers can be a source of help although we tend to neglect this advice. Most of them of offer an App, USSD (*XXX#) or SMS warning system that lets you access their services, and one of those services is some sort of measure of your data usage.

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A way to check your balance and keep your data cravings in check. The SMS warnings sent display some kind real-time usage, but it remains a handy way to see how close you are getting to the limit. Especially when you have multiple devices on a single data bundle. Always visit your mobile data provider’s website to pursue available notification options. I always recommend people to use data SIM cards instead of the ordinary ones as they have better data bundles and pricing.


Use your phone’s in-built Data Usage tool to set alerts

data screenshot_1At some point you will need to check the way you use your data, the good news for Android users is that you’ll find the Data Usage tool lurking within the Settings app. Yes you have it, assuming you running and Android phone with gingerbread and above. It’s possibly the best method for setting mobile data alerts and you can even use it to disable access when usage gets too high.

The Mobile Data item enables all data monitoring goodness for your device. This will act as an opening door to the other two settings on the Data Usage, once set. This way you get more control to help restrict mobile data usage.

Limit Mobile Data Usage: Use this to set the inauspicious Red Bar on the usage grid. Basically when your mobile data approaches this red bar, the device instantly stops using the mobile data network. You can adjust this bar depending on how much data you load on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Alert Me About Data Usage: This summons the Orange Bar (in may case Blue) and you will adjust it to have the phone or tablet display a warning when data usage hits its domain. It’s logical to set the Orange Bar near the Red Bar and how close you set them, depends on how quickly you will plan to reload more data.

So here is the harsh fact. When you find that your cellular provider’s data measurement is different from what your Android device has monitored don’t get alarmed, of course if can’t be the same. For corporate bottom-line reasons, that amount is always different and that’s the bitter truth.


Avoid data consuming features

data screenshot_2For those who have tempted to tether their phones to their PCs can testify that it’s surely a data hogger. Within an hour before you know it you can consume over 1GB. It’s never advisable to tether or create a mobile hotspot unless you have a mobile data plan big enough to support them. Always turn off data roaming for frequent flyers as its more deadly than tethering, those foreign networks will not be kind on your airtime package back home. If you thought tethering will take an hour, this one will be a matter of minutes to deplete your 1GB bundle.

Other data monsters include the obvious streaming music and videos. If you’re going to do a lot of that, make sure you’re Wi-Fi connected. Otherwise, you’ll poke through your monthly data plan’s gigabyte threshold like a fat kid eats cake.


Stop those data hungry Apps

Am a big buff of Podcasts and Internet Radio  (which i often access via Wi-Fi), but there are those times you forget to turn off these Apps and go into non Wi-Fi areas. Before you know it, these apps have drained your much precious data bundle. You could always make use of the Data Usage screen where you’ll discover those greedy apps that vociferously consume mobile data. They’re ranked in order of their appetite.

Always choose those apps that rank high in consuming your mobile data and you will discover some options and settings that will help you disable them. Or you can just joyfully stop the app, which may offer temporary data consumption relief.

You may find that a few apps can allow you to limit their data consumption to Wi-Fi connections only. Apps like Dropbox can be directed to sync photos only over a Wi-Fi connection. That way you avoid unnecessary data charges.

Hope these tips have been an eye opener for those who had no clue. Otherwise if you have some more please leave us a comment below.

  • haruna

    Only problem with the connect wifi every where u go leads to a battery drain especially if u keep it on all day. That’s for my phone at least.

    • Roger

      @haruna what Android phone are you using? Cause those running an older version of Android 2.3 ginger bread tend not to be good at wifi power Mgt

      • haruna

        Actually using Android 4.1.1 on samsung s3 mini. But it’s usually the connection that tends to drain the battery. For instance if I’m utubing or downloading large files and apps.

        • rogekk

          that’s strange that version is supposed to b stable, which phone are you using? are you running custom ROM (did you root your phone) or you are using ROM /software that came with the phone?

          • haruna

            using ROM with the phone. The phone being s3 mini. but perhaps cause the battery capacity is small. maybe that’s the problem.

          • rogekk

            hey haruna, i will give several solutions, but before I get to the tough ones please try this
            Step 1.Go to the “Settings”

            Step 2.On the bottom click “Developer Options’ (Turn it “On”)

            Step 3.Again go the the bottom and click “Limit backrounds processes”
            (opens a list) and at the 2nd words of list click “No backrounds

            Step 4.Under “Limit backrounds processes” you see “Show all ANRs” click in it to active …

            2. check out Deep Sleep Battery Saver on Google play.

            3. Easy battery saver is an android app by using this we can avoid battery discharge and by uninstalling unnecessary apps, reducing the brightness of background also we will extend battery life.

            Try each one at a tym and see if they can help some time and give feedback. I dont believe much in apps (2 & 3)solving the issue but they are worth a try

          • haruna

            i’ll try out ur suggestions and c how things work out, and the changes.
            And then give u the feedback
            Thanks lots for the tips :)…

          • rogekk

            great anytime feel free to do so