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Tips for dramatically reducing your mobile data usage on Android

Smartphone owners are constantly lacking one of two resources. Either the battery is prematurely empty or the high-speed data volume is used up and we are surfing at a snail’s pace. But how can you reduce your data consumption, and what actually consumes so much data?

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How much mobile data do you need?

There are certain data formats on the World Wide Web that unexpectedly cause higher data consumption. Thus, animated GIFs are considered inefficient, which you might not initially expect. Not infrequently, it is more than a megabyte for a three-second animation. Even YouTube clips are more economical and should be expected to consume two to more than 10 megabytes per minute. For music, the consumption varies between one and five megabytes per minute, depending on the bit rate. Here are some key facts about typical online activities:

Measuring data consumption

Android tools

Android delivers control over your data consumption. Just hold your finger on the corresponding tile in the quick settings, and you’ll get to the consumption overview. For some manufacturers, you need to go into the Mobile data section in Settings.

huawei data usage
Looks a bit different everywhere, but works similarly. / © AndroidPIT

In the consumption overview, you can also set limits, have it give you warnings and limit background data. We shall discuss this in detail later in the article.

Provider apps

There is another way to check your remaining data volume, and this may be somewhat more accurate. You can look directly at your carrier's app. Practical tip: with many providers, you can put the current status as a widget on the start screen.

Androidpit us carriers 9902
Check your carrier's app for data usage numbers. / © AndroidPIT

Restricting data consumption

Set a data limit in the Android settings

This is done primarily via the settings menu of the smartphone. Here, you can see and manage your data consumption. First, set up a consumption cycle that is adapted to your contract and the monthly renewal of your data volume. You can also set a limit at which the mobile data is automatically deactivated or capped.

data cap
Only once you set a hard limit will the data consumption stop. / © AndroidPIT

Force individual apps to save data

Here, you also have a list of the consumption of individual apps. Tap on one, and you’ll see in the following view how much the app consumed in the foreground or in the background. There are apps that secretly use your data volume in the background – if all else fails, you can stop it by limiting the background data here. But caution! This may cause some apps to stop working – especially Google apps and system apps.

restrict background data
Reduce the background activity of individual apps. / © AndroidPIT

Using offline functions

Music streaming

Use stored videos and music on-the-go to save data; or use offline features of music and video streaming services.

spotify hero
Spotify Premium, Tidal, and Google Play Music offer offline music playback. / © Spotify

Most music streaming providers offer an offline feature. This way, you can store your favorite songs on the smartphone and play them when you’re on-the-go. Alternatively, you can convert your CDs to MP3s and copy them to your internal memory or a MicroSD card and play them with a music player app.

Offline navigation

Offline navigation in Android has become quite good. Google Maps will now automatically ask you if you want to keep your map excerpts offline for 30 days. Alternative apps for offline navigation are HERE from Nokia/Microsoft or Maps.me. They all pursue different approaches and are well-suited to navigation in the car.

Compressing the data stream

Save data volume when surfing with Chrome’s compression feature

One of the many useful Chrome features is the ability to download compressed website data. You can enable this feature in the settings, almost at the very bottom. In our reviews, it has saved an average of 32 percent of our mobile data. This would equal, for example, 200 MB instead of 300 MB. This extra data volume is gladly accepted.

data compression
Compresses websites and saves load time and data volume. / © AndroidPIT

Compress everything with Opera Max

Opera Max is a compression app that helps you save data while Internet surfing. The app sends all data via its own VPN server and compresses the videos and photos on apps and websites. Unfortunately, this is associated with a visible loss of quality. In the app, you will be shown which apps on your phone have the greatest data savings potential.

With the current version, you can save money when streaming music and videos. Thanks to the integrated Rocket Optimizer, MP3s and MP4s are converted to AAC+ format. At a lower bit rate, a similar sound quality can be achieved. Videos streams, like Netflix or YouTube, can be compressed on request by Opera Max. Buffering times are thus shortened, but the quality is visibly lowered. In our review, a 10-minute YouTube video saved more than half of the data, so that only 14.7 MB were consumed, instead of 31.2 MB.

Opinion by Bernadette G.
Data consumption is hard to limit
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What do you do when nothing helps?

If you are struggling, you have to switch to one of many free WiFi networks. Or, if you have a dual-SIM smartphone, you can use a SIM card with a pure data plan (without a telephone option) and thus surf cheaply.

What are your tips? Have you tried any of these methods?

59 comments

Write new comment:
  • Tenos 5 months ago Link to comment

    Thanks for the great article.

  • Thanks for great info. I was aware of the few the tips dictated here, but not most of them are new to me. I have changed the settings as shown in the blog. With the help of this, I managed to save around 1GB data per month.

  • There bang on it over there & need this feature,data is slowed down really fast & you still buy 2G or 3G data add ons,getting a sim is a nightmare too-passport & 4 pics...this'll be a great feature once it's updated on all platforms

  • Simple.tips, easily followed. Thank you.

  • I have downloaded DataSaver - No Root which is the best firewall tool which works even on nonroot android and helps to reduce internet usage and battery so that you can manage data usage within your data plan and protect your privacy by restricting the net access permissions needed by apps.
    DataSaver - No Root gives you complete access to set which applications and addresses can individually be allowed or denied access to your Wi-Fi /3G/4G Mobile Data.
    Download : DataSaver -No Root

    It really helped me to save internet data usage and it also saves battery consumption.

  • Kai Ho 10 months ago Link to comment

    There is an Android App AutoWiFiOnOff, it controls WiFi On & Off automatically to save battery and data cost when reach 4 predefined locations, also it does not need GPS and use network location to control the WiFi. it turns on Wifi when you reach near 600M of your predefined location.

  • Dex Luther 10 months ago Link to comment

    And this is yet another area where Apple has a HUGE leg up on Android. By default there should be an option on every phone that will let me choose which apps use mobile data and which will only use WIFI. Frankly I think it's ridiculous that Android is so limited in this department, and no the "Background Data" option isn't a substitute.

  • Everything is obvious other than first two.

    • Everything is obvious (to you) other than the first two. Surprising that not everyone knows what you know right?

  • Dazzler May 25, 2016 Link to comment

    With number 9 - Navigate Offline, you can go one better than using Google Maps offline areas and get HERE Maps. It's completely free, and allows you to download states, or entire countries/continents if you like. I downloaded Australia with WiFi (about 1gb) and now I can search offline completely wherever I am in the country

  • Mark May 21, 2016 Link to comment

    I use TripMode on my PC to reduce the mobile data bill when I tether on my Android (Samsung). Up to know it did the job pretty well. TripMode does a great job at stopping big data consumer like Dropbox, OneDrive and, most important, Windows updates.

  • When I add the face book shortcut from chrome fo I uninstall Facebook or just unistall the other Facebook shortcut?

    • Alex P. May 20, 2016 Link to comment

      you can uninstall facebook app it has nothing to do with facebook shortcut but u can uninstall and use facebook chrome shortcut to save data and facebook shortcut is just like a link page kind of thing a link shortcut of the facebook page so when every you use it and the facebook link loads and you can use the site !

  • I use NoRoot Firewall (goo.gl/M1ygla) to decide per app if it can use wifi and/or mobile data, which really helps. Most of my apps don't need to use internet if I'm on my way (actually just a hand full), so by blocking all other apps on mobile data, you can save a lot of data. And everytime you install an app, all internet will be blocked untill you give permission (you will be reminded through a push notification). It's annoying at first to do this everytime, but you get used to it and you save data.

  • Really great article. But you have to try Opera Max too, great app for saving your data

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