5 Simple Tricks to Lower Data Usage on Your Android Phone

These days, most data plans are limited – and the larger ones are certainly not cheap. Ironically, more people are using their phones for online activities and do it for longer periods of time as well. This can lead to the typical scenario (which I’ve found myself quite often) of waking up in the middle of the month realizing you’ve almost reached the data cap and two whole Internet-less weeks are waiting ahead.

Ignoring the cap is definitely not a solution – overage fees are usually so expensive, they can literally dig holes in our pockets. On the bright side, there are a few simple things you can do, to optimize your phone’s data consumption, so every MB is well spent. Android does offer plenty of settings for lowering data consumption, but their default state is far from ideal.

1.Enable Chrome’s “Data Saver” option

Chrome Settings - Data Saver


This particular option can offer incredible results – data usage from web browsing in Chrome can be lowered by half using “Data Saver”. This feature compresses traffic using Google’s own servers, and it’s incredibly efficient.

To turn it on, open up Chrome, tap on the three-dot menu icon in the upper-right corner of the screen and then on Settings. On this page, select “Data Saver” and then toggle the function on.

2. Turn off Account Sync Options

Settings - Sync Accounts

While in some cases, account syncing is truly useful, it likely doesn’t apply for ALL your accounts. The best thing you can do is fine-tune these settings, which can be found in your phone’s Settings under the Accounts section.

From there, select any of the listed accounts and you’ll be able to edit its sync options. These differ from one account to another. I chose Facebook as an example – in this case you can disable sync for Contacts, Calendar and Gallery. Just check these settings for each account you have and disable the ones that aren’t useful to you. This is a handy way to lower background data usage and since you’ll only disable unwanted options, you’re not giving up on anything either.

3. Restrict Background Data

Settings - Data Usage

Background data usage is definitely one of those things that shorten the time needed to reach your data cap. Luckily, the system settings are quite flexible on the matter, allowing you to configure background data, both globally and on a per app basis.

If you want to completely disable background data, it can be done from the Settings, in the “Data Usage” menu. Tap on the three-dot menu icon in the top right corner of the screen and select the “Restrict background data” option, then tap on “Ok”.

With this option enabled, your apps will use way less data while they’re running in the background. The only drawback is you’ll get notifications at a lower frequency than before.

On a related note, it’s always handy to use the “Set cellular data limit” option which is offered in the “Data Usage” section as well. This way, you’ll always be notified when you reach your monthly data cap, and prevent inflated bills.

Application Data Usage

In the same location, you can see data usage for all apps, and the list shows them in a descending order. This makes it very easy to identify the data intensive apps, and even more – you can see how much foreground/background data is being used for each of them. You may decide it’s better to restrict background data only for specifics apps. Simply tap on any of the apps listed in the “Data Usage” section and turn off the “Restrict background data” option.

4. Set App Updates to Wi-Fi Only

Play Store Settings - Auto update Apps

App updates can eat a chunk of your monthly data, especially if you have many of them installed. The Play Store’s default behavior is to automatically update the installed apps. You can easily save some data by allowing app updates to be performed only on Wi-Fi.

In the Play Store app, swipe right to open the side navigation menu. Tap on “Settings” and choose the “Auto-update apps” option. The best setting in this scenario is the “Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi”.

5. Download content you often access online

Some stuff, you can only do online, there’s no denying that. However, streaming services like Spotify and YouTube, but also navigation apps like Google Maps among others can be huge data drains. Sometimes the best way to lower data usage is to prevent it.

If you find yourself listening the same tunes or albums over and over, it would be a good idea to download them on your phone so you can access them even without an Internet connection. Google Maps lets you download maps for offline use, which can definitely come in handy during road trips. These are just a few examples, but the general rule is: if you can download something instead of using cellular data to connect and access your content, choose the first option.

These simple tricks can save a lot of data – this way, you at least stand a chance of getting to the end of the month. What other things do you do to limit data usage on your phone?

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