Manage my data
Anything you do on your phone that accesses the internet when not connected to Wi-Fi will consume data. With the advent of 4G, data speeds are faster than ever so although you might be using your phone the same as you were on 3G, your phone is actually consuming a greater amount of data due to higher internet speeds and improved apps with greater performance.
The amount of data you use will vary depending on which apps you are using and how you are using them. We’ve put together this handy data usage guide so you can monitor and manage your data usage while still enjoying your favourite apps.
Monitor my data usage
Nowadays most smartphones have built-in systems which track your data for you. These are not 100% accurate but will give you a fair idea how much data you are using.
Open Settings → Mobile Data
From here you can select which apps use mobile data and also see how much data each app has used since you last reset statistics. Our bill cycle dates are from the 20th of the month to the 19th of the next month, so you need to Reset Statistics on the 20th of each month to give you an idea of how much data you are using.
TIP: Even when you are not actively using an app it can be using data in the background so switch off mobile data for any apps you don't use regularly.
Most android makes including Samsung and LG have similar data management apps built-in. Follow these steps to track your data usage:
- Go to Apps → Settings → Data Usage or Mobile Data
- Set mobile data limit option to disable the data connection when your monthly limit is reached.
- Adjust the date range to our bill cycle dates Data usage cycle → Change cycle → 20th of month - 19th of month.
My Data Manager - App
My Data Manager is a free and simple app available on both iOS and Andriod app stores. As with the bulit-in phone tracking apps it is not guaranteed 100% accurate but it does give you a good idea of how much data you are using. It also has a handy prediction feature which will warn you if you are predicted to go over your monthly data allowance.
- Set Mobile Plan to your monthly GB data allowance eg. 15GB.
- Set bill cycle dates as shown below from 20th of the month to 19th of the following month.
- Set My Alarms to warn you when you are nearing your data limit.
Manage how much data my apps use
Netflix can use a massive 1GB of data per hour so if you watch just one movie you can use up to 2GB of your data allowance. We always recommend streaming video over Wi-Fi wherever possible but you can also manage your mobile data usage on Netflix from the app itself.
You can also download your favourite shows/movies over Wi-Fi to watch offline – In your Netflix browser go to Menu → Available for Download → search the show/movie you want to download → click the download icon .
To watch Netflix over your mobile data connection, open the app and select Menu (this will either appear as in the upper-left corner or in the upper-right corner) → App Settings → Mobile Data Usage and set your data usage to Low (watch about 4 hours per GB) or you can set it to Off to ensure you can only stream over a Wi-Fi connection.
TIP: Data usage settings only apply to the Netflix profile you are in when you set them, meaning you can have different data usage settings for each profile. If you are concerned about the total amount of data that Netflix uses, make sure to change the settings for each profile.
YouTube is by far the biggest video streaming site on earth and the biggest data killer by far. When YouTube videos play even at a lower resolution, they still consume a lot of data, and the higher the video quality, the more data you will use.
We tested the data consumed when watching the same four-minute music video at different resolutions and the results speak for themselves.
|Video Resolution||Data used to watch a 4 minute video|
Even though you've watched just one video you may have used up to 73.5MB data! So just watching 13 music videos in HD will use nearly 1GB data.
To manage your data usage on YouTube open up the app and click on the three dots in the upper-right corner. Select → Settings → General → select Play HD on Wi-Fi only.
Musical.ly is an online video sharing platform where users can record and share lip sync videos, and it can use a huge amount of data. We used 231MB of data in just 10 minutes of continuous watching which adds up to over 1GB data in just 45 minutes.
So far there are no options within the app settings to limit data usage so we recommend using this one over Wi-Fi only, or you could add a data bolt-on to your mobile account.
Facebook can use a surprisingly large amount of data – up to 1MB-3MB per minute depending on what you are browsing. Keep in mind that the average Facebook user spends more than 8 hours per month online, which at an average of 2MB per minute adds up to almost 1GB of data used per month on Facebook alone.
A good trick to limit the amount of data Facebook consumes is to turn off the autoplay videos function:
Open Facebook and tap the More button in the lower-right corner → Settings → Account Settings → Videos and Photos → Autoplay → choose On Wi-Fi connections Only or Never Autoplay Videos.
By default, Instagram preloads videos so they start faster whenever possible. This means that every video on your feed will buffer even if you weren’t going to watch it, needlessly using your mobile data. To reduce the amount of mobile data Instagram uses:
Go to your profile → Click the three dots (Android) or the Settings gear (iPhone) → Mobile Data Use → Select Use Less Data
Snapchat preloads photos and videos so you don’t have to wait for content to load when you open the app. This is a neat feature, but it can use a lot of mobile data if you’re often out and about.
To limit the amount of mobile data Snapchat uses you can enable “Travel Mode:”
Open the app and select the snapchat icon at the top to open your Profile → Settings (top right) → (Additional services) Manage → Travel Mode
Disabling image previews and video autoplay in your Twitter feed can significantly reduce the amount of mobile data being used, especially if your feed is actively syncing in the background.
To disable these features, open Twitter and go to:
Me → Settings gear → Settings → Data → Video autoplay → Select Use Wi-Fi only or Never play videos automatically → then uncheck Image previews in Timeline
Like most music services Spotify uses 1MB-2MB data per minute for standard sound quality. It doesn’t sound like much, except this rate holds constant for the entire time that the music keeps playing.
That half-hour walk to work will use around 30MB there and 30MB home. Do this for the 20 work days in a month and you’ll easily burn through over 1GB of data, possibly 2GB depending on the quality at which you stream.
If you have room on your phone and are a premium Spotify user you can download albums and playlists over Wi-Fi to listen to later:
First to ensure your music downloads over Wi-Fi open Your Library → Settings → Streaming Quality → Select Normal → then scroll down and untoggle Download Using Cellular → then choose the album or playlist you want to listen to → tap the toggle for Available Offline.
You can also reduce the streaming quality to lessen data usage:
Open Your Library → Settings → Streaming Quality → Select Normal.
Streaming podcasts can use a whopping 60MB-100MB of data per hour. The smart choice is to download your podcasts over a Wi-Fi connection rather than streaming them over your mobile network.
General Web Browsing
General web browsing on your phone uses variable amounts of data – around 1MB-4MB per minute depending on content. The average user reportedly spends around 48 hours per month browsing the web. Luckily, most of this is done on a laptop or desktop. At an average of 2.5MB per minute you’ll hit 1GB in under 8 hours so try to use a Wi-Fi connection if you’re a habitual web-surfer.
TIP: Each page of a site loads separately, so beware of those tempting click-bait websites.
Apps and functions that use a lot of data
Be wary of using your mobile device as a hot-spot so your friends can connect to it, and watch videos for example - this uses a huge amount of data.
Wi-Fi Assist / Smart network switch
Wi-Fi Assist installed with iOS 9. This feature automatically switches your phone to your mobile network when it senses you have a poor Wi-Fi connection. So even though you think you are browsing over Wi-Fi your phone may be gobbling up your valuable data.
We recommend you always switch off Wi-Fi Assist. Here's how:
Go to Settings → Mobile Data (scroll right down to the bottom) → Toggle Wi-Fi Assist to Off.
Newer Android models have a feature called Smart network switch that works the same as Wi-Fi assist.
Go to Settings → Wi-Fi → Click MORE → Select Smart network switch → Toggle to Off.
Speedtests can use up to 75MB of data per test, so science tells us that obsession with speed testing is not good on a limited data package with a fast connection.
Updating Apps and Software
As apps become more powerful they also grow in size. Apple now allow apps up to 100MB in size to be downloaded over a mobile connection, and with every new iOS update this size increases. We always recommend using your Wi-Fi connection to update your apps and software.
Five minutes of FaceTime video calling uses up to 15MB of data which can quickly add up over a long catch-up.
Apps and functions that use very little data
Emails use very little data, about 50KB per message, so even if you’re a big time emailer you should be totally fine.
TIP: Keep in mind that attachments significantly increase the size of an email.