By 2024, smartphone users are expected to use over 21GB (gigabytes) of data per month, which is almost four time more than the currently monthly usage of 5.6GB. Often apps consume more data than expected, resulting in users burning through their monthly allowance too quickly.
Our simple guide reveals how draining your favourite streaming apps really are, along with simple tricks to cut down your overall consumption and help you avoid running out of data.
Limit data usage in settings
Most smartphones allow users to limit their monthly data usage in ‘Settings’, which is a great way to avoid exceeding your allowance. Before doing so, make sure to double check exactly how much data your mobile plan includes so that you’re setting the limit correctly.
Android users can set their limit by going to Settings > Data Usage > Billing Cycle > Data Limit & Billing Cycle. Here, you’ll be presented with the option to set the maximum amount you can use in a month.
There are multiple options that Apple users have to manage data usage, all of which are found by going to Settings > Mobile Data and scrolling down to ‘Use Mobile Data For’. Beneath this, there is a full list of your apps that use mobile data, along with how much data each is currently using. You can decide whether you’d like to keep using your mobile data for these apps, or only access them over a wifi connection. If you don’t want to use your data, simply tap the toggle next to each app to turn it off. This is particularly useful if you have or are close to exceeding your data allowance.
Video streaming apps are guilty of using up the most amount of data. Our recent survey shown that the likes of BBC iPlayer, Channel 5: My 5 and mixer were amongst the top offenders.
Disable background app refresh
Both Android and ISO phones have the option to disable ‘background app refresh.’ This feature allows the apps on your phone to periodically search for new information and update its content, even when you’re not using them. This often results in your phone burning through unnecessary data.
Be location services savvy
Many apps, such as Facebook, Snapchat and Uber, need location services to be enabled so that users can access their main features. However, there are an abundance of other apps that you may not expect use location information, including LinkedIn, PayPal and WhatsApp.
The good news is that location services can easily be turned off. Android users can do this in seconds by dragging down their dashboard settings from the home screen and tapping the location icon. iPhone users will need to go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services, where the main toggle allows you to turn off your location for all apps that use it. You can also turn location services on and off for individual apps, with an additional option to select ‘never’ allow location access or ‘only whilst using the app’. Users can also cache Google Maps for offline use.
If you’re a Spotify or Apple Music fan, each app offers a simple way to save playlists to your phone so that you can listen to your favourite songs even when offline. This option allows you to download songs when connected to WiFi, saving you having to stream over data when you’re out and about.
To save songs on Apple Music, tap the cloud icon in the right-hand corner of a playlist and wait for it to download. On Spotify, simply tap the ’Available ‘Offline toggle to on to save them (note – this feature is only available for Spotify Premium subscribers).
Our top tips were informed by our recent research into the average data usage of popular music and video apps over the course of an hour. Here are the results: