Four ways to use less data on your smartphone

Easy ways to cut down on data usage on your iPhone or Android.

Hand holds paper smartphone with dollar sign

Unless you have an unlimited data plan, chances are you’re always trying to curb data use on your smartphone to avoid going over your allowance. Here are four easy ways to reduce data usage on your iPhone or Android.

Prepare maps to use offline

The Google Maps app now allows you to download maps on your phone for later use. This means you can save data by using the map in offline mode, instead of eating up your internet allowance.

To do this:

  1. open the Google Maps app on your phone or tablet
  2. make sure you’re connected to wifi and signed in to Google Maps
  3. search for your destination, such as a restaurant 
  4. at the bottom, tap the white panel that has the name of your destination
  5. select ‘Download’ – this will select a portion of the map to save (it may take some time)
  6. once completed, you will be able to use the map without using data.

Disable auto-play videos

Nothing saps your data like auto-play videos and ads. You may have noticed the way Facebook videos begin playing automatically when you’re scrolling through your newsfeed, regardless of whether you want them to or not.

To avoid autoplay:

  1. open the Facebook app
  2. tap ‘More’ on the bottom right of the screen
  3. scroll down and tap Settings > Account Settings
  4. tap Videos > Autoplay
  5. choose an option.

Disable background app refresh

Even when you’re not using them, some apps like Facebook and email continue to use data. This is thanks to the background app refresh function, which updates the latest information in the app (like your friend’s new status update). Disabling this feature is a good way to save data and means that new information will only load over wifi or when you choose to open the app.

To turn off background app refresh:


  1. open the Settings app from your Home screen
  2. tap on ‘General’
  3. tap ‘Background App Refresh’
  4. toggle the ‘Background App Refresh’ switch to the right to turn it off or simply select the individual apps you  want to turn off.


  1. open the Settings app from the swipe down menu at the top of the screen
  2. tap ‘Data Usage’
  3. tap on the menu button
  4. hit Restrict background data > OK.

Turn off mobile data

If you’re really desperate to stop using data, the easiest way to reduce data use is to turn it off altogether and enable it only when you need it. This is a good last-ditch effort if you’ve already reached your data allowance for the month.

To turn off mobile data:


  1. open the Settings app
  2. tap ‘Mobile’
  3. toggle the ‘Mobile Data’ option off.


  1. open the Settings app from the swipe down menu at the top of the screen
  2. tap ‘Data Usage’
  3. toggle the ‘Mobile Data’ option off.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    16th Jun 2016
    You missed the most important way: stay off the phone. Who needs to walk around Coles with the phone glued to their ear anyway.
    16th Jun 2016
    The same people who drive their cars with their phone glued to their ear.
    16th Jun 2016
    Vodaphone Red Plan is the way to go!
    Unlimited calls to any mobile provider or home lines!
    If going overseas then there is the Roaming charge of only $5.00 per day only if you use it and which includes calls to Australia at no extra cost!
    16th Jun 2016
    Better still use Skype and there is no $5 Roaming charge and phone costs are low.
    16th Jun 2016
    Simply deactivate the data when not using it.

    16th Jun 2016
    I find constant updates are the most annoying unnecessary data cost.
    Nowadays, I decline all updates, and only download the ones I really want when I'm at home, and my phone is hooked up to the 'net via my wireless connection to my home router.
    16th Jun 2016
    Careful of that one. Sometimes the updates happen to protect you as the older versions have flaws which could see you attacked. Of course the worry about windows UPdates is that Microsoft wants you to update to Window 10 complete with spyware. It is a minefield avoiding the 'updates' which try to download this virus of an operating system. So far so good.
    16th Jun 2016
    Update when you have a free WIFI connection
    16th Jun 2016
    Umm! Turn it off!

    18th Jun 2016
    Change to ALDI, much cheaper than the rest

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles