How to save mobile data

Nafisa Akabor Cache This, Latest

What’s using your data? (DALL-E collab)

If you feel like your data is being used a lot quicker than before, you are not alone. A quick search on Twitter reveals how this is affecting consumers in South Africa.

Network operators say we’re consume content a lot quicker than before because of improved speeds, smarter apps, and data-intensive devices. Or this is what Vodacom told me after I got back to South Africa and purchased a 2GB bundle that ran out in 12 minutes while I waited for my luggage.

Despite that, consider checking the settings listed below to save data:

iOS 16.3 update

Last month Apple pushed out the iOS 16.3 update. What users don’t know, is that the update automatically makes a change to use data instead of WiFi only. This affects app updates despite the settings you had previously. Mine was changed to ask permission for anything above 200MB, resulting in multiple app updates below 200MB. Double check your App Store settings and turn off automatic downloads including for in-app content.

Apps refreshing in the background

Background app refresh on iPhone or background usage limits on Android, allows apps to look for the latest information –  even if the app isn’t open on your device. Examples of this are mail or social media feeds. You can turn it off for all, or manually choose apps that you need updated.

Monitor data usage on Android

Android lets you see how much mobile data you’ve used by month. You can find it under Connections and Data Usage. Under Mobile Data Usage, view your patterns to see what is zapping your data and consider setting data or time limits. It also has a “data saver” option.

Use network apps to monitor usage

You can also use the My Vodacom, MyMTN, or Cell C apps to track your data usage. Between the networks you can track data usage for the last 30 days, a week, or the day before. It shows a breakdown per app so you can also spot any irregularities. These apps may help find the culprit app that you may not be aware of, like cloud or streaming services.

Cloud and streaming services

It’s very important to check that cloud backups, photo uploads and music streaming apps are not using mobile data. These updates happen in the background without your knowledge, and in the case of Spotify, when you open the app, it could download new podcast episodes. If you have the “optimise iPhone storage” setting turned on, you won’t be able to see photos properly, and tapping on the photo will download it, so it’s something to be aware of.

Individual apps settings

One last thing to check on individual apps, like Twitter, is to turn off media previews on views so it won’t automatically show on your feed. Twitter also has a data usage setting that lets you manage high-quality content, video auto-play, etc. You can also use it in data saver mode. Sometimes apps that play video ads are also the culprit.

The above steps offer a thorough check on what may be causing high data usage. Remember, if you don’t want to have 5G speeds on all the time, just change your settings back to LTE. 5G is also tied to consuming more battery than 4G.

Stay safe and connected.

Cache This

Technology is an ever increasing part of our lives and let’s be honest, many of us like gadgets. There is also an abundance of new online services and apps taking over the traditional services we use. Nafisa Akabor has been covering everything tech for well over a decade and she’ll be writing on how we can do tech within a budget and reviewing some of the new online services. Cache This is published on the last Tuesday of every month.