Saving mobile phone data


Mobile Phone UsersIn the previous installment several suggestions were made on how to reduce bandwidth consumption on a capped connection. Whilst this article focused solely on PCs the rise in the use of smartphones has led to headaches as people try to manage data bundles on their smartphones and tablets. This is not helped by the fact that most mobile operator’s charges are a tad bit expensive when compared to their fixed Internet Service Providers.


Several readers suggested ways in which people could reduce their data consumption. I reproduce some of them (in addition to my own) here with a caveat: most of them are Android centric. This seems to make sense due to the existence of entry level Android phones. Most iPhone, I assume, users can afford the ridiculous bills! Still it would never hurt you to manage your usage and here is how:

  • Before you try any additional tricks to save your bandwidth first find out how your bandwidth is being used by your Android apps. With 3G Watchdog you can monitor the amount of data used by individual applications installed on your device. You can even set quota limits for different apps and see data uses over various span of time. The application comes with home screen widget to ease up the task.
  • One of the readers Tapiwa adviced Bandwidth-sensitive Android owners to disable system-wide sync and manually sync each app separately. If they really want to micromanage, then users ought to disable background-sync for all apps, and then turn syncing on for a few apps they need. You can also disable background Data activity. Also remember to disable auto sync of few individual apps like Picasa and Facebook to save the bandwidth.
  • Use Wi-Fi for all the data intensive apps such as video and Skype. Try connecting to a Wi-Fi network whenever possible. Data on Wi-Fi costs just a fraction when compared to mobile data transfer. Wi-Fi becomes even more important if you are using streaming, downloading and multiplayer online gaming. Wi-Fi would make these things fast along with saving you money.
  • Keep track of your usage. This way you can buy your data in bulk and save instead of relying on a piecemeal pay as you go package. If you want to save money, you should know what kind of plan you need. For example 1GB costs $0.08/MB whilst the 5GB bundle will cost $0.04/MB with Econet. That is a massive 50% savings!
  • As one reader Lenny suggests using Opera mini. Lame as it may sound browsing pages on Opera mini reduces your data traffic to about 40%. As the browser uses a series servers to compress data by up to 90% before sending it to your mobile. Pages are loaded at lightning fast speed and at the same time fight against high bandwidth usage. Users who are using opera mobile might need to manually enable the turbo mode from the settings menu.
  • Use a firewall.You can always use a firewall to restrict certain application from using the network. You can achieve this by DroidWall, a free android firewall, but it’s only available for rooted users. This is also perfect if you just want to see your battery lasting longer.
  • Turn off apps when not required. Some apps use more data and this includes GPS. If kept on, it regularly updates itself with latest location. This is done many times per minute and hence it uses a lot of bytes. You should close such apps to use your data plan smartly. You should go to the task manager system and close GPS activities. You can even install an app called Advanced Task killer which would make everything so much easier for you. This would make sure that there are no hidden apps running in the background, feeding on data.
  • Pre-cache your Google Maps. I grew up in a rural area and I know navigating Harare can be a little confusing, where is Michael Drive? I need Google maps and so do many people.If you know you’ll need maps for a specific area, you can download them ahead of time on a Wi-Fi connection so that you don’t need to use up bandwidth on the go. This is also helpful when you might be roaming while traveling, or out of range altogether. Just hit menu, tap “Make available offline,” and select the area you need.

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7 thoughts on “Saving mobile phone data

  1. For Android users download from Google Play Binu messenger and use their platform for google search, fast & compressed without all the other stuff also cheap SMS and music downloads, yellow pages specific to Zim and a bunch of very useful sidelines

  2. As an Android fanboy I am pleased with all the droid love going on here. But I recommend some iOS tips if you don’t want this blog to turn into an Android fan camp

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