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How to Easily Reduce Your Data Usage

Have a limited data plan? Follow these tips to save on cellular data usage without going over each month, plus explore options for saving by bundling services.

Today, many of us find ourselves practically glued to our devices—from scrolling on social media to binge watching YouTube videos to checking emails while picking up the kids from soccer practice. Smartphones are with us morning through night.

Back in the day, cell phone bills were based on the number of call minutes, but now it’s all about data usage. If you’re not ready to pay for an unlimited data plan, you might be wondering how to reduce your data usage to prevent going over your data plan and receiving a larger than expected bill.

How Much Data Are You Using?

Before putting together a plan to reduce your data usage, start by checking exactly how much data you’ve used in the current period. On an iPhone (iOS 14.0 and higher), you can find this under Settings→Cellular. Scroll down to the Cellular Data section, and you’ll see the amount of data used in the current period so far. On an Android device (4.0 and higher), you’ll go to Settings→Network & Internet→Data Usage.

Now that you know how much data you’ve used in the current billing period, it’s time to look into how you can reduce data usage going forward.

Read on for several tips and tricks from SmartMove that can help keep you from reaching your data limit.

Turn Off Cellular Data

Once you’ve followed the steps above to view your data usage, you can toggle the use of cellular data on and off. You can do this any time you have steady access to a WiFi connection and want to be sure that your phone does not revert to using your cellular data. When you’re out of WiFi range and still need to use the Internet, you can go back to this settings page on your phone and toggle cellular data back on until you’re done using it.

Turn Cellular Data Off for Specific Apps

If you don’t want to constantly be turning cellular data on and off to use all Internet services, you could instead just restrict certain apps from using mobile data. You can see which apps are using the most data, and make personalized choices about which ones you would prefer to only use when connected to WiFi. To do this on an iPhone, go to Settings→Cellular. When you scroll down, you will see your list of apps. You can toggle each app on or off. To do this on an Android, go to Settings→Network & Internet→Data Usage.

Restrict Background Data Usage

Most people are unaware that even when you are not using an app, it can still use cellular data while running in the background. Without you doing anything, your apps could be downloading updates, your email account could be syncing new messages, or your weather app could be using location services to send you a weather alert. Most cell phones give you an option to control which apps are able to use background mobile data, allowing you to pick and choose which you want to get regular updates from and which ones you could do without. On an iPhone, go to Settings→General→Background App Refresh. Here you will see a list of all of your phone’s apps, and you can toggle background refresh on or off for each. On an Android, tap on the app, and there you can toggle Background Data or Allow Background Data Usage on or off.

Use Maps Offline

Are you visiting a new city and know that you will be relying on your phone’s navigation app to get from that cool museum you’re visiting to the restaurant where you’ll be meeting your friend? Navigation apps can use up quite a bit of data. Consider downloading an area map for the city ahead of time. On an Android device, go into Google Maps and select the map area you want to save. Next you will tap on Info, then tap the three dots at the top of the screen, and lastly tap Download Offline Map. 

If you’re using Apple Maps, you can simply preload your route while connected to WiFi, and the Apple Maps cache will automatically remember the way without needing an Internet connection. To do this, enter the route as you normally would while connected to WiFi. Allow the navigation instructions to fully load, and then exit the app and go to Settings→Cellular to turn off cellular data. Now when you continue your journey, you’ll be able to navigate without using any data!

Bundle Your Media Services

If after trying these tips you’re not entirely sure you have the right wireless plan for you, SmartMove can help! Maybe you’ve decided you simply want to get away from data caps but aren’t sure you can afford it. Bundling your cellular and Internet services with a single provider can help you save money. By doing this, you might find that you’re able to afford more cellular data after all.

SmartMove compares different cell phone carrier bundles to help identify the best one for you.


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