5 simple ways to reduce your mobile data consumption

Batsirai Chikadaya Avatar

With Zimbabwe having the third most expensive data we all need to come up with cost-effective methods to reduce our consumption and preserve data for when we need it on our phones.

Here are 12 ways to reduce your data consumption:

1. Disable Auto-Updates:

Many people are often victims of either their phone or applications auto-updating without them knowing. Nowadays phone software updates roll out at over 1GB (iOS 10 was 1.1GB), and some applications over 100mb (my last LinkedIn update on iOS was 211mb just yesterday). Such data consuming updates can literally knock your data allowance out cold. The best way to deal with this is to switch auto-updating off.

For Android:

  • Go to Play Store
  • -> Settings
  • -> Select Auto-Update Apps
  • -> Choose either Do not auto-update apps/Auto-update apps over wifi only.

For iOS:

  • Go To Settings
  • -> iTunes & App Stores
  • -> Either Disable all Automatic Downloads
  • -> or Disable “Use Cellular Data” (if you have wifi).

2.Restrict background data:

The easiest way to reduce data consumption is to tell your apps to not work in the background, simply switch them off and have them run only when you open them.

For Android:

  • Open up Settings on your device
  • -> Locate and tap Data usage
  • -> Locate the app you want to prevent using your data in the background
  • -> Scroll to the bottom of the app listing
  • -> Tap to enable Restrict background data

For iOS:

  • Go to Settings
  • -> Cellular
  • -> Either Switch off Cellular Data
  • -> or Scroll down to each App
  • -> Switch off data usage for each app

3.Use data-compression Apps:

Data compression apps connect to a server and download data, the traffic is routed through a third-party server that compresses the data for you saving you you data. The services do not tamper with encrypted data so you can still use your email and mobile banking apps safely. However, the data may come to you a bit slower as the data does a roundabout through a third party server. 

Some popular data-compression apps include:

  • Opera Maxtakes over control, routing all apps’ traffic through Opera’s servers so it can be compressed to save your data allowance, the app is only available on Android here
  • Onavo Extend Project: a data-compressing solution that works with all the apps on your phone, the app is only available on iOS here
  • Chrome‘s Reduce Data Usage Feature: This feature only works in Chrome, so you’ll only get the benefits of data compression when browsing with Chrome. The feature is only available on Android devices, so to turn it on 
    • Open the Chrome app Chrome
    • ->Tap More More and then Settings
    • ->Under “Advanced,” tap Data Saver
    • ->Switch the setting on
  • Opera Mini: It works similarly to Chrome, compressing data only when browsing the web only with Opera. tap the O menu and check out the new High and Extreme data-savings modes, with Extreme savings mode you will get the same amount of data saving as before and the high savings mode shrinks webpages less aggressively than extreme mode, but it gives you a whole new browsing experience. There is an Android, iOS and Windows Mobile version available.

4.Ditch the App version and use your mobile browser

In the case of facebook, stay away from the app if necessary, use your mobile browser to go on the soical network instead. The facebook app consumes much more data that browsing it. Other data consuming apps include Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

5. Remove Auto Download on WhatsApp and stop Uploading pictures to Instagram!

If left to to run in the background and auto-download media is on, your whatsapp could consume a larger chunk of your data, especially if you are in quite few group chats. If left uncontrolled, you can end up with over 100 images you have no clue how you got.

To disable Auto Download on WhatsApp:

  • Open WhatsApp
  • ->Tap on Settings
  • ->Tap on Chat Settings
  • ->Next, tap on Media Auto-Download
  • ->For each of the three options (Images, Audio and Videos), tap on it and pick from the three: Never, Wifi, WiFi and Cellular.

Uploading images is just as data intensive as downloading, sometimes waiting to share a moment can save you your data. Uploading images and video to whatsapp, instagram etc can be put on hold until you have enough data or Wifi.

If you have other ways of reducing data consumption please share with others.






  1. Rookie

    Good going techzim. Tanzwa ne spend.

    For things I can comfortably do on the internet on my mobile, I stick to my phone. Tethering for another handset or you laptop is even worse. Websites consume more and no compression such as that you get on mobile. If tethering to a mobile, make sure updates etc are off.

  2. Teekay

    Another way for Econet users is to transfer your current account balance to a content account balance when you are not using it and later retrieve it when need arises. This is done by dialing *143# the option 5 then option 2.

  3. ZidyaVanu Mugomo

    what happened to the test you carried out on Tuesday? did Econet paid you not to publish the results?

    1. Batsirai Chikadaya

      No Sir, clash of schedules, test was done today, expect article 1st thing in the morning.

  4. Zuck

    Facebook Lite vs Facebook in browser ndiyani ano hwina?

  5. ZidyaVanu Mugomo

    great! will you be testing social media bundle speeds as well? NetOne facebook bundle vs Econet facebook bundle, I believe they’re all throttling their social media data speeds, especially NetOne… 43kbps on LTE is just an insult.

    1. Batsirai Chikadaya

      We’re still trying to find the best way to test social media bundles, we have a few ideas but not yet 100%, do u have any suggestions?
      so they dont know lol

  6. Zibusiso Masuku

    I recommend Opera Max, I think it’s the best solution for all those who rely on full data bundles and are on a small budget. However, I have been using the app for long too, but the truth is Econet data is just so expensive and even if Opera Max saves you some, you can’t do anything except the usual full time WhatsApp and the occasional Google and the like.

  7. Ackson Mapfundematsva

    Onavo extend used to be available on Android, but now it has been replaced by Onavo Protect. Please add that to your article. Otherwise thanks for informing the masses

  8. Cooper

    I dont understand why you are saying Econet data is expensive, was in South Africa the past 2 weeks, was using Cell C, their daily data is going for 13rands for 100mbs, and am currently in UAE, am using etisalat and their 100mb daily bundle is going for 5AED, equivalent to about 1.20USD.. I miss econet daily bundles

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