How to Manage Your Smartphone Data Consumption

On a limited data plan? Track your data usage on any smartphone

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The majority of smartphones rely on the internet. As you remain online, your phone uses more mobile data, which quickly fills up a limited data plan. To better manage data usage on your phone, understand how your phone uses data and which apps require the internet. From there, identify where your data usage is going and how to control it.

The information below applies no matter who made your phone: Samsung, Apple, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

What Uses Data on Your Phone?

For data to be used, your phone must be disconnected from Wi-Fi and connected to a mobile data plan. For example, if you pay your phone bill to Verizon, when you use the internet on your phone, you use Verizon's cell towers to reach the internet.

The apps on your phone that require data usage include those that connect to the internet. Web browsers, online games, instant messaging services, social media apps, navigation programs, video and music streaming services, email, and online shopping apps are some examples.

Not all web-accessible apps on your phone use the same amount of data. An example is email. An email with one image attachment uses less data than an email with three video attachments. Similarly, streaming a two-hour YouTube video uses more data than browsing a few web pages.

Monitor Your Data Vigilantly

The easiest way to avoid exceeding your quota is to monitor your data consumption regularly. Do this several times during the month, especially after downloading apps and after playing videos and music.

Even if you exceed your data limit, you can keep the additional charges to a minimum if you know how much data you used.

When you check your mobile provider's website for your data usage, assume that you've used more than what's shown because this information isn't delivered in real time. Data monitoring apps may also be inaccurate.

Other Tips for Minimizing Data Usage

Here are several quick and easy ways to reduce how much data you use on your phone:

Use Wi-Fi More Often

Wi-Fi doesn't count against your mobile data usage, so you can stream videos and music, browse the web, and download apps without impacting your limited data plan.

Since Wi-Fi isn't available everywhere, use special Wi-Fi finding apps to locate areas that offer Wi-Fi to the public so that you can go online without using mobile data.

To be sure that you're using Wi-Fi and not your mobile data plan, disable cellular usage. You'll find this option in your phone's network settings.

Avoid Streaming

If you can't use Wi-Fi for everything, limit or completely avoid video and music streaming while using mobile data. These applications demand the most data.

Some apps provide a way to reduce the stream to a point where it doesn't need as much data to get the same content (only in lesser quality). Others disable auto-play so that if you go to a web page containing a video, it doesn't download (or use data) unless you give it permission.

You can also download music offline or save movies to your device while on Wi-Fi. The media files play when you're away from Wi-Fi but don't use mobile data because the files are saved on the device.