[How To] Cut Down on Smartphone Data Usage

Smartphone Data stats

We have a problem – I think we are going to switch to one of those “Family Share” wireless data plans very soon. When we switch, we will have to choose how much data we want to pay for monthly. That scares me because I’m a geek, so I think I need my current unlimited data plan.

Even though I did some research, and found that my current data usage for the past couple of months fits reasonably into one of my carrier’s plans, I’m still apprehensive of giving up my unlimited plan. So I did some additional research and found some ways I can cut down on my smartphone data usage, just to be safe.

You’re more than welcome to try some of these out as well. As a matter of fact, I’ll write the rest of this post as if I needed to come up with some valuable content that my readers can benefit from – Crazy concept, right?

Data Management Apps

Onavo Data Savings

There are tons of data apps out there that can make you a better steward over your smartphone data. There are data-reporting apps that can monitor your data, show you where you and how you use data, and alert you via push notifications when you’ve crossed a specified threshold. There are even data-compressing apps  that can actually shrink the data you use. Your smartphone may even have some of this functionality built-in.

App Sync over WiFi Only

Evernote Sync

If you do a good job of always being in places with free WiFi, you might get away with selecting the option of only synchronizing app data over WiFi. Apps like Evernote, Dropbox, Twitter (and its many 3rd-Party clients), offer the option of only using data while you’re connected to WiFi. This way, you can pick and choose what apps can always sync with your smartphone (like Twitter) versus what apps can can wait until you’re connected to a WiFi network (Dropbox).

Smartphone Data over WiFi Only

Data over WiFi only

If you really want to lockdown your smartphone’s data, there is a system-wide option in your phone’s settings that when selected, will ONLY use data when you’re on WiFi. This setting will trump any app/service specific setting – Your entire phone will only use data if you’re connected to WiFi. This is great option when you know you’re on your last Kilobyte of data before you enter “overage” territory.

Being a geek, I was actually surprised by how much data I DON’T use. So I may just save a few bucks if/when we switch to a shared data plan when a certain phone is availiable (rhymes with iPhone 5). But that still won’t stop me from agonizing over that fact that I will NEVER have unlimited smartphone data ever again.

*sheds single tear down left cheek*

On the bright-side, this will force me to take more control over my smartphone data usage.

So let me know if you plan to use any of these suggestions and if they actually help you conserve that precious smartphone data.

Terrance Gaines

Terrance Gaines is an Apple Certified Support Professional living in Atlanta. When he is not spending time with his lovely wife and two smart, sweet, and sassy daughters, he's providing individuals and small biz owners with exceptional, comprehensive, and affordable technology support that will enable people to do great things. For more information, visit terrancegaines.com

  • This is one feature I love about the Galaxy SIII…it will monitor your data (and WiFi, separately) usage and let you know when you’re approaching a certain threshold. It will even turn off your mobile data when you reach it, if you choose.

    • It always helps when the tech is built in. I use the Onavo app for iPhone because it does a great job of compressing the data in the first place. The app works for Android as well.

      • I use a data manager for fun, but have unlimited on Boost (Moto XPRT) so far I’m usually under 2 GB mobile data, though I’ve hit 10 GB on WiFi regularly.

        • Yeah, me and Mrs. Tech combined are under 2gigs monthly. Which was surprising, but considering that i’m a WiFi HAWK, it kind of makes sense, lol!

  • April Dorris

    I just left Verizon and my unlimited data plan. I was holding on to that thing for dear life but switching over to TMobile and getting on a family plan with the fiance is saving us $80/month. I’m keeping my usage within my 2Gig cap by using wifi wherever I can (which is mostly home and work). I’m still in my first month but right now all seems to be going well.

    • Nice,

      Be sure to check out some apps that can help you manage your data and let you know if you are about to go over.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • I’m absolutely jealous of everyone with an unlimited plan. Since I left AT&T and my grandfathered-in plan, I’ve be struggling to stay within my limits (and let’s not even add the fact that I added a hotspot on my iPhone device) However, Verizon has a great little notification whenever I’m getting close to going over my limit so it works out and I haven’t gone over my limit yet 🙂