Reduce Mobile Data Usage on Your Android Device

How to Reduce Mobile Data Usage on Your Android Device

Similar to–and just as inconvenient as–food having calories, Internet usage consumes data. Your service provider cashes in on this, sometimes exponentially if you exceed your limit. Some providers even throttle your bandwidth as well, often when you need it the most. But how can you possibly keep track of every kilobyte?

It seems to be growing harder and harder to limit one’s own data usage when technology is heading the opposite direction. More and more games rely on the cloud, social networking is non-existent without data, and more apps are linked to Internet services. And what is a smartphone without data? There’s only so much entertainment your calculator can provide.

But all hope is not lost. We’re about to show you some tips and tricks that can cut your data usage on Android devices by as much as half.

Method 1: Rely on Wi-Fi

This is my main defense against high data usage. Home may be where the heart is, but it’s also where my phones connects to Wi-Fi automatically. That being said, it’s not a good idea to connect to any open network. If free Wi-Fi seems too good to be true, it could be a honey pot set up by a hacker to lure you in.

That is why you are notified about open networks, but not automatically connected. After you manually connect to a network, however, your device should not only remember that information, but also automatically connect. This is key to minimize data usage Android. To configure Wi-Fi manually, follow these steps:

1. Visit Settings

The icon looks like a gear.


2. Wi-Fi ON

  • Below Wireless and Networks, ensure that Wi-Fi is toggled to an ON
  • Then tap on the Wi-Fi option. Your device should detect all of the networks within range.

3. Make a Connection

Tap the name of the network you wish to connect to.

4. Authenticate

If prompted, enter the corresponding Wi-Fi network’s password. If the network is not secured, the connection should complete successfully without much effort on your part.

Method 2: Use Lite Browsers

Chrome’s Data Saver works with Google’s servers to reduce the amount of data downloaded on every webpage you visit. Download Opera Mini to be able to choose between savings modes. A lesser known browser that also sports a data-saving option that disables image loading is called Maxthon.

Our example below shows you how to turn on Data Saver from within Chrome’s browser, but similar methods could also apply to other browsers to help reduce mobile usage on Android.

1. Go to Settings

It is accessible from the menu icon in the upper-right hand corner. The menu icon is a series of three vertical dots.

2. Data Saver

From Settings, select Data Saver and toggle it to an ON position.


Opera Mini


Method 3: Turn Off Mobile Data While Not in Use

This is the most effective solution for reducing data usage. Undoubtedly there are times when a data connection isn’t necessary, like when you are sleeping. The only negative is that you won’t receive notifications for social media, email, or any app that requires Internet. But this is a method you can use to reduce data usage on Android.

1. Go to Notifications

Pull down the notification bar (on some devices) or go to the main Settings menu.


2. Turn Off Data

  • Toggle off the Mobile Data
  • If you are going the Settings route, you will also need to select Data Usage.

Method 4: Cache Your Maps

Google Maps allows its maps to be cached for offline use. There might be some initial data use while you download the map if you don’t have access to Wi-Fi, but you’ll save on data while travelling. You’ll find that this helps to reduce data usage on Android phone.

1. Zoom

Zoom in on the part of the map you wish to cache.

2. Tap Search Bar

3. Type OK Maps


4. Tap Search Icon

The app is good about notifying you how much data this will use.


5. Tap Download

Then the app will send you back to the maps view and the map will be cached for offline usage.


Method 5: Use Opera MAX

Opera MAX works to reduce the amount of data used by all apps on your Android. It does this by routing app data through Opera’s servers where it is compressed. Video quality may be compromised. Opera MAX is a data manager, so it also allows you to see how much data each app is consuming.

How much will this cost you? Nothing. Opera MAX is free. However, you may be subjected to an occasional ad to recharge the app.

Opera Max

Method 6: Keep Tabs

If you don’t know how much data you are currently using you won’t know how much it needs to improve, or the strides that you will be making. But did you know that you already have a built-in option to track your data usage?

Not only can you see how much data each app is using, but you can also set a limit on usage and enable warnings when your data approaches a certain limit of your choosing. Once you are able to identify the apps that are using your data irresponsibly, consider uninstalling or finding a replacement.

It’s also possible to estimate how much data usage an installation you are considering would require. You would need to use a separate app for this, but at least three of the top U.S. carriers offer such a tool. Many carriers also provide tools for you to be able to track your current data usage, like myAT&T and My Verizon Mobile. Also, apps like Data Status offer much more detailed reports in real time.

To check on past usage, you can follow the steps below as long as your device is running Android 4.0 or greater:

1. Navigate to Settings

2. Go to Wireless and Networks

  • On most devices it is right at the top of the Settings

3. Tap on Data Usage

  • You have the option of toggling Set Data Limit to ON, and then you will be able to set an alert with the bottom slider or a hard limit using the top slider.


My Verizon Mobile

Data Status

Method 7: How to Limit Background Data

What is the effect of you constantly checking for updates on your phone? You probably already know that it depletes your battery and data. So why would apps that constantly check for updates be any different? A lot of the time they aren’t, which is why it’s a good idea to restrict your background data. If you want an update from that specific app, just open it up.

1. Go to Settings

2. Tap on Wireless and Networks

Or, depending on the device, you may already be there.

3. Select Data Usage

Now you can go after the perpetrating app.

4. Scroll Down

Scroll to the bottom of the app listing.

5. Restrict Data

Choose Restrict App Background Data. Now the only time the app will be able to use data is when it’s open.


Method 8: Help Maintain Your Cache

Remember what we did back when we cached Maps? We are now going to try to apply the same concept wherever else we can. It only makes sense to keep the data you use repetitively on reserve rather than downloading it again and again. Try to preload data when you have access to Wi-Fi whenever you can.

1. Save Music to Your Phone

Several apps, like Spotify, allow users to download playlists. Streaming apps like YouTube are gluttons for data, but you can mitigate that somewhat by preloading videos to your Watch Later List. You can also save music playlists of your own directly to your microSD card or use an adapter.


2. Save Reading Material to Your Phone

Do you like to read the news or interesting articles on your breaks throughout the day? With apps like Pocket you access them whenever you like even without a data connection.


3. Use Google Docs Offline

Want to be able to work on a document even when you have no Wi-Fi? You can. Within the Google Docs app, go to the menu (three gray dots to the right of each document) and select Keep on Device.

Method 9: Gain Control of Your Updates

Apps aren’t programmed to give any consideration to your data usage status when an update is available. But there is a setting in the Google Play Store where you can control this.

1. Go to Settings

Tap on the three lines in the upper left-hand corner to find the menu.

2. Auto Update Apps

Located right at the top of the list is the Auto-Update Apps tab. Tap on it.


3. Wi-Fi Only

Change the setting to auto-update apps to Wi-Fi Only.


Method 10: Disable Auto-Syncing

This is another way you can avoid your data being squandered by apps constantly checking for updates. If you don’t need syncing for Gmail, Photos, or the Play Store, disable it.

1. Go to Settings

Go to your phone’s main Settings menu.

2. Visit Accounts

Here lies a list of all of your accounts.


3. Choose Account

You will need to go into each account and deselect the syncing option.



If your Android device is rooted, using ad blocking apps will also help alleviate your data drain. Even if it isn’t rooted, you can still use certain apps like Adblock for Android if you want to get rid of advertisers monopolizing your data, but you could encounter a few more issues and limitations than rooted users do.

We hope that we have helped you understand how you can reduce data usage on Android. If you have any questions or suggestions of your own, let us know in the comments below.

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