Three weeks ago I bought 1GB MTN data plan to go with my new android for the month. Two days later, I had already consumed 600MB! Mind you, there is still no 3G network in the state I am in presently - Joshua.
The above comment is from a new, if not inexperienced Android phone user. Sadly, Joshua's case is not unique. Inexperienced phone users especially those on iOS and Android platforms have fallen victim to monstrous data hungry phones which, in turn, results in increased spending. Happily, there are a few simple steps that can be taken to reduce data cost.
1) Use Wi-fi: Although, Wi-fi hotspots are rare in Nigeria, a few can still be found. Virtually all smartphones nowadays come with Wi-fi capabilities. Instead of using your mobile data plan to download apps, music or videos, it would be better to use a wi-fi hotspot. If you must use your mobile plan, do so only with an unlimited data plan.
2) Disable Background Data: This can be found in the settings menu of your phone. Be sure to disable auto-sync and more importantly background data.
3) Turn off Auto-update: In some smartphone platforms, there are options to allow apps automatically update. Needless to say, this feature consumes data. It will be wise to turn it off and update your apps only when you are connected to a wi-fi hotspot.
4) Retrieve E-mail Manually: By default, emails are automatically retrieved every couple of minutes. Unless absolutely necessary, disable automatic retrieval. Get your emails manually - when you need them.
5) Use Data Compressing Browsers: Native browsers, that is browsers that come pre-installed with the phone are usually data hungry because they strive to be as good as PC browsers. However browsers like Opera mini and UC Browser compress data before sending them to your phone. In many cases, data consumption is reduced by as much as 90%.
6) Use Data Monitoring Apps: Apps that monitor data usage are available in every platform. They monitor and give you details of how much data is being consumed and what apps are responsible. Many also allow setting of limits. Once you go beyond that limit, internet access is cut off. Examples are Netquin Mobile Security, 3G watchdog and so on.
7) When Not Needed, Disable Data Completely: At certain times like when we sleep, we may not need data services. Turning off data will help reduce cost because many phones still access the web even when they are in idle mode.
8) Uninstall Apps You Don't Need: Too many times, we make the mistake of piling up apps we do not need. Many of these apps consume data in the background. Uninstalling them is the best way of preventing data usage by them.
Which Browsing Activity Consumes The Most Data:
Having discussed the steps needed to reduce data consumption, it is worthy of note that it is our browsing activities and behaviour that determine how much data we use up.
Streaming media such as audio and video typically eats up the most data. According to a report, if you stream music for hour each day for a month, you will hit the 2Gb mark. Watching one hour of high resolution video everyday for a month will get you to the 10Gb threshold. 30 minutes of low resolution video everyday for a month will cost you about 700mb of data.
Is media streaming the only culprit? No! Lighter activities like frequent facebooking and tweeting may add up to consume even more data than media streaming. Also worthy of note is that some apps that perform the same functions may not necessarily consume the same amount of data. For example, the native Twitter app for iPhone consumes more than double the amount of data consumed by a similar app like Tweetdeck. So choose wisely.
There are also apps that compress overall data. An example is Onavo(available for iOS and Android). It works by redirecting traffic meant for your phone to a server that compresses them as much as 80% before sending them back to your phone.
Applying these steps will go a long way in reducing browsing cost. Happy surfing!