Don't pay more. Get the right data plan
Working out how much data you need is probably the hardest part of getting a new phone. That’s why we made finding the right data plan one of the main parts of our Pin Point system in store.
How much data do my apps use?
Casual browsing and emails don’t use much data at all. But as soon as you start streaming music on Spotify or binging on the latest Netflix series, your entire data allowance can disappear very quickly. The trick is to do all your big data-hungry activities while you're connected to a reliable Wi-Fi network - more on this below.
Here are a few tips to keep your mobile internet account in the black.
Close down apps
Although you’re not using them, apps can still run in the background and munch on your data, making it important to shut them down regularly. If you’re an Android user, tap the square icon at the bottom of the screen, and this will show you everything that’s running. Simply flick them away to get rid.
To see all open apps on iOS, double tap the home button and again flick them away. With Windows, double tap the back arrow button, and tap the X to close those apps down.
Watch out for auto-play videos
Do you love social media? If so, you should beware of those videos that play automatically on Facebook and Twitter. Because they're steadily eating away at your data allowance, even if the volume isn’t turned on.
Downloading attachments on emails
Some of the emails you receive on a daily basis will come with videos, songs, GIFs and images built into them. And when you open them up, you download the lot. Thankfully you can turn this data-draining nightmare off...
Android: You should be asked by Gmail if you want to ‘Show pictures’ when you open an email. If you select this, it will ask you if you always want to see images from this sender. If this doesn’t happen, go to Gmail’s Settings > select an account > Data usage.
iOS: Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > turn off Load Remote Images. Unfortunately, this may not work for all emails, depending on sender. If you think this might be the cause of your data haemorrhaging, try waiting until you’re connected to Wi-Fi before you open emails with the paperclip icon to see if they really are to blame.
Windows: You won’t be able to download images automatically unless you tell your phone to do it. If you do need the full email, head to your email client app > Settings > turn on Always download full message and internet images.
Cut down on streaming services
This might sound like an obvious one, but streaming stuff when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi is a big data pull. If you’re a Netflix-addict, and you’re dead set on binging on your favourite show while not connected to Wi-Fi, you've can lower the quality so it doesn’t use up as much data. If you're an Android user you've now got another data saving option - downloading your shows to watch offline. Check out this article to find out how to do this:
How to save Netflix shows to a MicroSD card.
When it comes to the likes of Spotify, you can lower the streaming quality by going to Settings > Music Quality or save playlists offline, so you can listen to them wherever you like.
Turn off auto updates
Sometimes smartphones choose to update themselves and their apps when they see fit. If you’re connected to Wi-Fi, this won’t be a problem, but if it’s happening when you’re out and about, you could see a draw on data. Here's how to sort it:
Android: Google Play > three dots > Settings > Auto-update apps
iOS: Settings > iTunes & App Store > Automatic Downloads
Windows: Settings > Phone update > Automatically download updates if my data settings allow it
Monitor your usage
Keeping tabs on how much data you’re using will give you a good indication as to which apps are to blame. You can track this on Android by going to Settings > Data Usage (pictured above), and you can also set notifications so you know when you’re nearing your data limit.
Head to the App List on your Windows Phone and look for Data Sense for virtually the same service. If you’re an iPhone user, we’d recommend you download My Data Manager from the App Store. It's free, and also available for Android users from the Google Play Store. This will give you a comprehensive breakdown of your data allowance.
You can also check out your network supplier’s app. If it's any good, it should give you some useful data stats for you to mull over.
Pull the plug
If all else fails, shut down your mobile data. We’d only recommend this if you’re at the very edge of your data limit. It'll stop your mobile fun for a while, but it could also save you a few quid.
If you've got any data saving advice of your own, let's hear them. Share your top tips below.