How to save data volume on your mobile phone

Using too much data? 5 hacks to pimp your phone

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Need to stop getting halfway through every month and finding you’ve already hit your mobile data cap? Then read on

These days, everybody’s smartphone is bristling with all manner of wonderful apps. While many undoubtedly make our lives easier and more efficient, take them beyond the range of a home Wi-Fi router and they become hungry little hogs, chomping their way through the measly data plan your mobile network provides. Fortunately, it only takes a minor bit of digging to discover that those very same apps have settings that significantly extend the monthly life expectancy of your allowance.
 

Here are five hacks that will transform your phone from a gigabyte-guzzler into a megabyte-maintainer, for the followings apps: 

  • Facebook/Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Spotify
  • Snapchat
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Facebook and Twitter: deactivate auto-play

Regularly checking your Facebook account can be a big data-eater, due to the large number of pictures and videos that have to be loaded in your news feed. To significantly reduce consumption, open the Facebook app, tap on the menu button in the top right of the screen (the three horizontal lines stacked on top of one another on Android; a head and shoulders icon with three horizontal lines behind it on iOS), scroll down and select the ‘App Settings’ menu. In this menu, select ‘Auto-play’, then tap on the empty circle next to ‘On Wi-Fi Connections Only’ so that the blue tick appears inside it.

The procedure is similar for Twitter. Access the ‘Settings’ menu (tap on your profile picture in the top left of the screen, or swipe right from the left of the screen, to open the navigation drawer on Android; tap on the ‘Me’ icon at the bottom left of the screen to access your Twitter profile page, then tap on the gear-shaped menu icon in the middle-left of the screen on iOS), then select the ‘Data usage’ menu. In this menu, tap on ‘Video autoplay’ and select ‘Use Wi-Fi only’.

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Instagram: use less data

Instagram likes to play videos automatically, and it also reloads those clips every time you pass them on your feed. To reduce the impact of this on your data allowance, select the option icon at the top right of the screen on your Instagram profile (three dots stack vertically on top of each other on Android; a gear-shaped icon on iOS). Scroll down and tap on the ‘Cellular/Mobile Data Use’ menu. In this menu, tap on ‘Use Less Data’ in Android so that a blue tick appears next to it, and swipe the button next to ‘Use Less Data’ right in iOS so that the button turns blue. This won’t prevent videos from playing automatically, but it will stop them being loaded multiple times when you’re using mobile data.

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YouTube: tame the beast

While YouTube has a wealth of interesting and amusing videos to watch, if you can’t wait until you get home to watch them, the app becomes a true megabyte muncher. To quell its appetite on Android, select the option icon at the top right of the home screen (three dots stack vertically on top of each other), then tap on ‘Settings’. From this menu select ‘General’, then swipe the button next to ‘Limit mobile data usage’ right so that it turns blue, swipe the button next to ‘Autoplay’ left so that it goes grey, and tap on ‘Upload quality’ to select a lower resolution. On iOS, tap on your profile picture in the top right of the home screen and select ‘Settings’. Then swipe the button next to ‘Play HD on Wi-Fi only’ right so that it turns blue, and tap on ‘Upload quality’ to select a lower resolution. Done!

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Spotify: take it offline

Spotify’s seemingly endless database invites you to spend an entire day floating in a sea of music. However, the constant loading of songs can sink your data allowance faster than a lead balloon. If you have a premium subscription, you can halt that descent by downloading tunes for playback offline, simply by tapping the button next to ‘Download’ at the top of any album or playlist so that it turns green. When you leave home, be sure to switch to offline mode in ‘Settings’ so that you’re only able to play the music and podcasts you’ve downloaded. To do this on Android, select ‘Your Library’ at the bottom right of the screen, then tap on the gear-shaped menu icon at the top right and swipe the button next to ‘Offline mode’ right to turn it green. On iOS, select the menu button in the top left of the home screen (the three horizontal lines stacked on top of one another), tap on the gear-shaped menu icon at the bottom right and swipe the button next to ‘Offline mode’ right to turn it green.

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Snapchat: switch to Travel Mode

Like Instagram, Snapchat constantly loads your friends’ snaps and stories as soon as you open the app. Rather splendidly, though, its creators have included the Travel Mode feature to save you from any nasty surprises while you’re on the move. To access it, swipe down from the top of app’s main screen, then tap the gear-shaped settings menu icon in the top right of the screen. Scroll down and select ‘Manage Preferences’ in the ‘Additional Services’ section. On Android, tap the box next to ‘Travel Mode’ so that it turns green with a white tick, while on iOS swipe the button next to ‘Travel Mode’ right to turn it green. You’ll now need to tap on snaps and stories to load them.

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General tip

Both Android and iOS users can prevent individual apps from using mobile data. In Android, open Settings, select ‘Apps’, tap on the app you wish to select, then tap on ‘Data usage’ and swipe the green button next to ‘Background data’ left to turn it grey. 

On iOS, open Settings, select ‘Mobile data’, browse through the apps to find one you wish to disable background data usage for and swipe the button next to it left so that it is no longer green.

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