9 ways to reduce your phone’s data usage

Apr 27, 2021 | tech tips

Looking for ways to reduce your phone’s data usage? Follow these 9 easy steps.

1. use WiFi

Seems obvious but sometimes we can forget to connect to WiFi. That’s why Honest Mobile members benefit from our ‘smart notifications’ letting them know when they’ve used more data than usual and reminding them to check that they’re connected to WiFi.

Honest Mobile smart notification showing data usage

n2. turn off background app refresh

On your phone apps update in the background – even if you’re not using them. This is so they can show you all the latest content in your Facebook newsfeed or others apps when you go back to them. This uses up your data.

to turn off background app refresh on an iPhone

Go to settings > general > background app refresh > off or toggle off the ones you don’t want grabbing new content in the background.

to turn off background app refresh on an android

Pull down the notification bar for settings > press the settings button (cog in the top right-hand corner) > press connections > data usage > from the Mobile section press mobile data usage > choose an app from below the usage graph > press allow background data usage to turn off

Do this for all the apps you want to turn off background app refresh for.

3. where to find which apps use the most data

how to check data usage on an iPhone

Head to settings > mobile data > scroll down and under each app is the amount of data used in your current billing period. Turn off any apps you think are using too much.

how to check data usage on an android

Click on settings > tap data usage > select your date range > press ‘app usage’

Your total data usage is at the top and then you can scroll down to see how much data each app used. The apps that used the most are at the top.

4. download don’t stream

Downloading your music, podcasts or films when you’re connected to Wi-Fi will mean you use less data when you’re out and about. Streaming uses a lot of data so better to have them downloaded on your phone – this will dramatically reduce things like your Spotify and Netflix data usage.

5. switch off WiFi assist or network switch

WiFi Assist (for iPhone) or Network Switch (for Android) is running in the background making sure you have a stable internet connection. It means that if your WiFi connection suddenly drops massively – say you’re on the edge of where the WiFi reaches to then WiFi assist lets your mobile data kick in so you don’t lose connection.

for iPhone users:

Turn it off in settings > mobile data > scroll to the bottom and turn off Wi-Fi Assist

for android users:

Settings (the cog icon) > connections > Wi-Fi > three dots in the corner > advanced. Here you’ll find the slider for “Switch to mobile data.”

6. ‘fetch’ mail less often

To see how often your email gets new emails on an iPhone go to settings > mail > accounts > fetch new data. The less it fetches emails the less data and battery your phone will use. If you don’t need new emails coming through all the time then turn off push. To check how often fetch is scheduled scroll down. If you tick manually then the mail app will check for new emails only when you open the app.

7. use safari’s reading list

When you’re connected to Wi-Fi you can add pages to your Safari Reading List – which downloads them for offline viewing – so you can read them later when you don’t have connection. To do this click the share button and then select add to reading list.

8. switch off autoplay on youtube or other video apps

Whether you watch videos on YouTube or other video apps switch off autoplay so they don’t accidentally keep playing in your pocket. It will eat up all your data very quickly.

9. take your GPS maps offline

Your maps apps can use up a lot of data – especially when you’re using them a lot – like when your travelling or exploring a new place. But did you know you can download maps so you can find your way even when you don’t have WiFi or data?

download maps on an iPhone

Whilst you’re connected to the internet open the Google Maps app. Make sure you’re not in Incognito mode! Search for the city or place you’d like to download maps for. At the bottom press the name or address > select more … > press download offline map > download

download maps on an android

Whilst you’re connected to the internet open the Google Maps app. Make sure you’re signed in to Google Maps. Search for the city or place you’d like to download maps for. At the bottom, tap the name or address of the place > download. If you searched for a place like a restaurant, tap More … > download offline map > download

At Honest Mobile we think that mobile networks have spent too many years ripping off customers and overcharging them for data they don’t use. To find out more about how we’re doing things differently – sending smarter notifications so you can stay on top of your bills then click here.