This is by no means a recent issue. In 2021, we discussed mobile phone bills with Channel Nine news, including how some have been caught out by going over their data usage limit and copping a massive monthly bill. We’ve written a full guide on data usage if you aren’t sure how much data you need for your devices. But, here are our top five tips for reducing your mobile data usage.
On this page:
- Use WiFi whenever possible
- Turn off data fetching and close background apps
- Don’t download music without a WiFi connection
- Avoid playing mobile games without a WiFi connection
- Use a data monitoring app
Use WiFi whenever possible
Almost every smartphone that is capable of using cellular data is also capable of using WiFi. WiFi is your biggest asset in combating data usage, so make sure that you take advantage of it whenever you can – at home, at friends’ houses, at work, and even in public places such as shopping centres and cafés. You can connect to these networks by opening the settings menu then tapping the WiFi entry in order to open a list of available networks. You only have to enter the password once in order to connect. Make sure the connection is secure, however – it’s a good idea to avoid logging into any private services such as online banking whilst on public WiFi, as the connection is not always secure.
Also keep in mind that when your phone is set to constantly search for WiFi, it uses more battery. Get into the habit of going into your phone’s settings and turning it on and off whenever appropriate. Similarly, having your phone search for Bluetooth also saps the battery quickly.
Close apps when you’re finished with them and turn off data fetching
Running multiple apps means you’re compounding your data usage unnecessarily. Get into the habit of closing apps when you’re finished with them. Again, this will save you on battery life as well as mobile data. Mobile data is used by apps running in the background. Even though you aren’t using them, these apps can continue to update and download data – this is known as data fetching.
For example, data fetching can be used by your email app which will automatically download your emails even if you don’t have the app open. Data fetching can be useful in a situation like this, but it also means your app is constantly downloading – even when you’re not using it. Facebook and Instagram are particularly good examples of this. They’re both a great way to stay in touch with friends and families, but also make it easy to go overboard in terms of downloads.
If you want to take precautions against background app data consumption, ensure you close the apps rather than simply exiting them.
Don’t download music while on the go
Enjoy listening to music on Spotify, YouTube or SoundCloud? Then you should take steps to ensure that you aren’t downloading music on your data allowance. Music downloads can take a huge chunk out of your 4G and 5G data plans. To illustrate, a standard definition YouTube video will cost you 264 MBs for one hour. Downloading music while on the go will quickly add up, so only do it if you’re desperate, or you know you’re remaining data.
If you choose to stream music using mobile data, go into the app’s settings and check the box to download lower quality tracks whilst connected to 3G, 4G, or 5G. If you’re a Premium account user, make some of your playlists available offline, and download your tracks over WiFi. That way, you’re not downloading anything!
Need more data? Think about upgrading your phone plan
There’s some great, affordable mobile plans out there if you need more data on the go. Getting a new plan with a better data deal will let you stress less about running through your data allowance every month. Find them below.
The following table shows a selection of SIM-only postpaid plans with a minimum of 40GB data on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of their standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our tool for simple mobile phone plan comparison to easily compare plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
The following table shows a selection of SIM-only prepaid plans with a minimum of 40GB data on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of their standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our tool for simple mobile phone plan comparison to easily compare plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
Avoid playing mobile games without WiFi
Many smartphone games use data without you realising. When your game issues a daily challenge or uploads your score to a global leaderboard – this uses data.
Take popular games like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans. In addition to uploading scores and information, they also use your data to show you those annoying pop-up ads. Yes, they use up your data too, even though you don’t want to see them! So if you can avoid it, try not to play mobile games without having a connection to a Wi-Fi network. Alternatively, switch off mobile data while you play – you will still have access to the game, without having to download a thing.
Use a data monitor to keep an eye on usage
As the name suggests, these apps monitor your data usage and provide you with updates if you exceed certain daily amounts or are getting close to your cap. They should be used in conjunction with the above four steps in order to maximize your data savings.
Android phones have a built-in data monitor, which shows how much data has been used per app as well as overall. iOS models also have a data monitor of sorts, but it gives a far less detailed breakdown.
You’ll need to download specific apps to get sufficient information, such as Data Usage.
There are countless other ways to save on data, far too many to list here, but the five listed here are generally the most common methods that most people have found to work for them. If these steps aren’t making much of a difference for you, then you might want to consider looking for a phone plan that gives you a higher data allowance.