Tips to help reduce Android data usage

We’re seeing a lot of talk about data use lately with the rise of apps like Instagram and Spotify.  In these conversations there is often a realisation that some apps are using more data than expected.

When we look at our smartphones data usage we think, “I’m just doing what I normally do… I don’t understand why I’m using so much data these days”. If you find yourself saying this sometimes, help is on the way!

With the release of the iPhone 6, Galaxy S6 and 4G becoming available in more areas, the reality is our browsing and usage habits have changed significantly in the past few years, steadily enough that we haven’t noticed the shift in our data consumption.

In my experience looking over peoples bills, in most cases you can identify a clear upward trend in data usage to coincide with the “rise of the app”. More and more features are being made available on classic smartphone apps like Facebook (Autoplay) and Youtube (HD videos), or new favourites like Instagram or Spotify.

This is a good thing! Smartphones help us to stay connected with our friends, family and what’s going on around us, so with that in mind here are some things that can make your data go a bit further (and keep some $$$ in your pocket).

On an Android phone

Turn off Auto Play For Facebook – Open up the Facebook app & go to ‘Settings’ → tap on ‘App Settings’ & then tap on ‘Videos & Photos’. In here, switch ‘Smart Auto-Play’ off & then choose either ‘Use Wi-Fi Only’ or ‘Never Play Videos Automatically’ (so it only plays when you select it to play).

This feature is used to pre-load content in your news feed. If content is updating & refreshing all the time though, it can use a lot of data, as it’s loading multiple times.

Turn on the Use Less Data feature on Instagram – open the Instagram app & tap on ‘Profile’ & then ‘Settings’. Go to ‘Cellular Data Use’ & turn on the Option ‘Use Less Data’.

In general, for all apps – While this will not work for all apps, go to each apps settings and choose the download over Wi-Fi Only (or similar) option. For example, a common application is Google Drive, where in the Settings there is an option to ‘Transfer files only over Wi-Fi’.

See which apps are using mobile data  – Go to ‘Settings’ & tap on ‘Data Usage’.

Here are 2 things I’d recommend once you’re in this screen:

  1. Change your billing cycle to match the date of your mobile bill cycle.  If you’re not sure what this is, you can see this on your account or via My Optus App.  If you want to change your billing cycle on your phone, just use the drop down menu from ‘Data usage cycle’ & select ‘Change cycle’ –  if you don’t have this option (depending on your handset & OS), select settings in the top right corner and make sure ‘Show Wi-Fi usage’ is ticked.
  2. You can set yourself a data limit by selecting ‘set mobile data limit’ – if this is on, it will be ticked.

When looking at the graph (this is a pretty cool feature on Android phones), the orange line shows a warning for your data usage & the red line will show when your data usage is going to be restricted (if you’ve set a limit). For both of these, you’ll get a notification on your phone, so if you get a notification that your data has been restricted, you’ll need to acknowledge and remove that notification before you can continue using data.


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