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Tips for dramatically reducing your mobile data usage on Android
Tips & Tricks Community 5 min read 62 comments

Tips for dramatically reducing your mobile data usage on Android

Update: New for 2019!

Smartphone owners are constantly lacking one of two resources. Either the battery is prematurely empty or the high-speed data volume is used up, so we have to surf at a snail’s pace. So, how can you reduce your data consumption? And what actually consumes so much data anyway? Here's how you can stick to your data plan with ease.

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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. For example, 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 videos 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.

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 Data Usage section in Settings.

data use android pie
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 will 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.

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.

data use android pie background
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.

Use Google Maps offline

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. You can now download and save maps to use later offline. This is an excellent way to reduce data consumption in the city you live in, for example. You learn how to do this by following our full guide at the link below.

use google maps offline 02
You can download and save multiple maps for offline use. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

What do you do when nothing helps?

If you are struggling, you have to switch to one of the many free Wi-Fi 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?

62 comments

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  • excellent information..useful..thank you for sharing.


  • Aside Opera Max I've been using Onavo Extend. Either way, both are excellent data compression apps. Aside from that, I've been employing different tactics like bandwidth limiting my router (since it's uncapped).

    I got other tips as well in my blog. Just look for The Broadband Scanner via wordpress.


  • Mohan Jan 5, 2018 Link to comment

    Thanks for sharing such a great information, this is very useful and inspires me.


  • Tenos Jan 1, 2017 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 Aug 16, 2016 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.


  • 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?


  • 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 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


  • Thanks for all your tips! You mentioned we shouldn't upload photos to FB, but didn't offer another solution. I use my phone for my business which requires taking many photos. I share them from my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 to FB where I then download them to my computer so I can edit them and write my blog posts... How should I be doing it?


  • I use WF much of time and Opera Max which compres pictures and video and save a lot of storage.


  • You can also get used to using Wi-Fi whenever and wherever it’s available.
    Source: this article I Fix Screens website


  • On Android 4.x are many apps with data transmision scheduler. Disable transmision when device is not use.


  • I'm also using OperaMax and this month it saves 16 Gb on wifi and 462 Mb. It is realy exelent!


  • Donel Mar 8, 2016 Link to comment

    I tone down my surfing experience. I use Opera Mini which is very lightweight and saves a lot of data. Most websites work fine and if text overlapping doesn't bother you (happens on large pages), you're fine to go with it.


  • Good share, pretty useful!


  • opera max is the best appp to control dada....even u can disable data for apps.....opera max can do these all tricks for u.....


  • I'm using lot of this recomenditions, and they are really helpful.


  • I do most of the tips here and have noticed that my data consumption has gone down. Now if I can only get my son to do his part.


  • Useful article, definitely going to try some of these apps! will see if they work and let you know


  • I live in a small town of 1000 in Arkansas. We have virtually no wifi. I have a 30gig data plan from AT&T that was more than adequate until four months ago. Suddenly I was going from data rollover to data drainage within a week to ten days of a new cycle! My habits have not changed; I have not downloaded any new apps. I have always been a big YouTube user but why the data drainage now? It seemed to coincide with the AT&T/DirecTV merge but surely that's just a coincidence... right? I will, in the meantime, give these suggestions in the article a try. Thanks for any feedback.


    • Interesting. The same thing is happening to me right now. To be fair, I just got a new phone and installed the fb app which I had not used on my previous phone. I never even come close to using all of my 500mb data on my plan but this month I've used 457mb in 10 days! I went through all the tips-shut off auto play videos, made sure apps update WiFi only, etc. then even dumped the fb app all together. I bought a 100mb data pack (first time ever) and though I things should be OK from here. Imagine my surprise when I used 25.2mb checking fb on the run briefly 1 time. So I bought a second data pack 😠 and now I am monitoring data per use. I've used over 616mb in 11 days. I'm hoping all the steps I've taken will stop the data bleed.


    • Same exact thing happened to me! I have called ATT several times and tried everything to figure out why the sudden spike. I barely use my phone. I feel like they are trying to get me to change to a higher data plan, especially since my plan (2 GB) is no longer offered. ATT was never known to be an ethical company. I'm not really sure why I continue to deal with them. Maybe it is time to move on.


  • I'm using Samsung Galaxy s5 and using T-Mobile free 1GB of 4G data service which is not enough. If I hit the 1GB limit I get throttled back to 3G. Thanks Kris Carlon for this article, I've changed my settings for better data management.


  • The MobAlert app in the google play store beeps when you're disconnected from wifi. I always forget to turn it back on! :\


  • use opera max.


  • I use HERE Maps for navigation because you can download whole maps.


  • Good stuff. Thanks.

    Can someone explain to me the basics of how switching to a Facebook shortcut or mobile site wrap (as Tinfoil labels itself) will reduce data usage?

    I understand that the official app is oversized in its own right, but whether I'm using it or accessing the site via shortcut, isn't my newsfeed going to mean the same volume of data being sent in either case? Does the app somehow pull or use more data accessing the site other means?

    Thanks in advance for any insight.


    • I wouldn't recommend this step. The biggest data usage drain from Facebook is its default setting to Autoplay videos. From your feed in the app you can disable this by tapping the 3 lines on the right side and tap "app settings". Turn off the option to play videos automatically or change it to Wi-Fi only. This will make sure that only videos you actually watch are downloaded and use data.

      If you use chrome to view facebook, the data usage will be the same. However, it will muddy the situation. By using Facebook on chrome you won't be able to distinguish if your data is being caused by Facebook or by other sites you visit when checking data usage in the settings.


    • Don't know how facebook app handle data. But using the facebook mobile web version should let you save 30% data considering chrome save 30% data with text compression and reducing image weight.


  • There is so much Wi-Fi around me that I really don't use data. Even with google maps and such. I have only 300 mb to share with my wife and still have plenty of data left over.


  • awesome trick really very helpful for Indians where mobile data are very costly and keep on increasing


  •   31
    Deactivated Account Oct 28, 2015 Link to comment

    chrome shortcuts are a great way of being economical with data.
    I got rid of my EE app, Amazon app, and a couple of other apps, which I now access via a chrome s/c, God knows how much data I wasted having these apps installed when I only use them occasionally...


  • While using Google map it is good to select ,2g only in mobile network settings mode, and see difference in data saving. Use offline in highways, in city it is better on data service because if a deviation comes ,will no t be rerouted.


  • Wow! Thank you for sharing this information with us. I never thought of these factors until I read your article.


  • I often travel from one European Union country to another. Data roaming rates are still too expensive (€0.25/MB). Here are some things I have done to reduce data usage and still be able to do a few things on an Android 4.0.3 HTC Desire C.

    What I did (quite laborious):
    * Install just the applications I need
    * Turn off 3G: Settings→Mobile Network→Network mode→GSM only
    * Avoid most synchronization: Settings→Accounts and Sync → remove syncing app by app (for Whatsapp I left "sync contacts" on: I still have to check if it makes a difference (probably for the first time a contact comes in?)
    * Background connections seem to take most of the bandwidth: Settings→More→Usage→Set data usage limit (to 10 MB, for instance); then go to most applications, and "restrict background data" (I didn't do this for Whatsapp or Telegram, just in case).

    Doing this, on an Edge connection (E), the phone, when idle in a 2-hour test, consumed about 15 kB/h, which means that it would consume about 0.36 MB/day. This, at about 0.25€/MB in the EU, is just a few cents a day which is bearable; of course, it will go up when one uses it.

    For those of you with Android 5.0 phones, it may work like this:
    * Turn off 3G/4G: Syncing: Settings→More→Mobile Networks→Preferred Network type→2G
    * Avoid most synchronization: Settings→[Personal]→Accounts and then deactivate synchronization application by application (tedious).
    * Settings→Usage→Set Mobile Data Limit (to some reasonable value), to be able to do the next step.
    * Settings→Usage then go application by application and Restrict App Background Data

    Some of these changes have to be done application by application which is time consuming. It would be nice if an application could do this in a single go.


  • hmmm these battery / data saving 'solutions' all involve fairly serious compromises on normal usage, much easier to get mobile charging solutions and a data package that allows you to use whatever you need pretty much the simplest answer


  • I found this item to use...Adapter for Apple 30 Pin Dock Female to Micro USB Male Data Sync and Charge Connector Converter for Samsung Galaxy Note 4 IV Galaxy S5 Note 3 2 S4 S3 Galaxy Tab 4 3 HTC One LG Optimus Sony Xperia OEM
    It seems it will NOT work for AUDIO transfer, what now?
    I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 3


  • Thanks I just read this and did all of the settings to my phone.


  • it helps a bunch... ty


  • I hope to use this info... If I have trouble I'll post back... Thanks for this article.


  • Super helpful thanks