One of the biggest and most important parts of our mobile tariffs is our data allowance. Gone are the days of WAP, where we’d use mere kilobytes over the course of a month, taking minutes to load up just a single webpage.
But with data so important to the everyday use of our phones, how can we cut down on our usage? We take a look at some of the biggest data munching features of our smartphones to help make sure that come the end of the month, you’re not paying over the odds for your mobile contract.
Data Hog Offender #1: Apps
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Apps can consist of useful tools, fun games and even entertaining time wasters given the right occasion. However, some apps can also be tremendously good at damaging your 3G or 4G data allowance.
One of the most used apps on the planet, Facebook is used on average 40 minutes each day. This means that each month the average mobile phone user can be on Facebook for around 20 hours! This obviously racks up plenty of data usage if you’re outside of your typical Wi-Fi area, plus with auto-play videos now a common feature on everyone’s timeline, even more of your precious megabytes can fall victim to this app.
The main perpetrator for data usage is video, so it comes as no surprise to see YouTube taking a hefty chunk of each month’s data plan. HD videos also amp up the monthly amount of data you’ll use with YouTube, so whilst it might look a little better on your smartphone’s screen, it might cost you a couple of quid in the long run.
Another video based app, Netflix is great at burning through data as it downloads entire films for you to watch. Again, the HD quality doesn’t do your Netflix data usage any favours, so you’re probably better off waiting until you have Wi-Fi to stream a movie through this app.
The speed of use makes this app a sneaky little data stealer. Sending Snapchat pictures and video takes up a surprising amount of data, whilst the automatically downloaded stories from your friends tend to be a big issue. You might want to consider unfollowing some of those 100+ second Snapchatters in your ranks to save on a few precious megabytes each month.
If you find yourself using WhatsApp more than your unlimited text messages you might want to think twice, as the internet based messaging service is a big time data hog. Busier WhatsApp users can see the megabytes fly off your monthly allowance, whilst sending pictures, audio and video is a big no-no if you’re conscious of your mobile data.
It will save your hard drive some gigabytes that’s for sure, but Spotify does little to help your data allowance. Each song played through the service is briefly downloaded, meaning that you’ll be chomping away at your tariff pretty quickly using this app.
If used practically Twitter isn’t actually all that bad; the real issue comes if you follow too many accounts. Each tweet you see will use up a tiny amount of data, but add this up if you follow thousands of accounts and you may be in trouble!
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Whilst apps themselves can deal damage to your data, downloading them can also be sapping to your tariff. It’s always best downloading through a Wi-Fi connection anyway, plus, some apps can take up a fair few megabytes each, so downloading them through your data isn’t the best plan.
Data Hog Offender #2: Emails
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If you use your smartphone for work emails, you’ll know the pain of the cumulative data usage it brings. Whilst text based emails are actually friendly to your data, it’s the attachments which really cause the problems, especially if you’re forced to download them on the go.
Computer based attachments like word processing files aren’t too bad, but PDF files and images can be super-disruptive to your monthly plan. Plus, with the ever growing quality of cameras, each picture is taking up more and more room in terms of file size, punishing our tariffs more than ever before.
Data Hog Offender #3: Web Browsing
Whilst mobile site browsing isn’t too bad, the real problem comes when browsing non-responsive websites which are packed with graphics and pictures. Each site offers different amounts of data usage, so it’s always best to check to see if there’s an app for the website you plan on visiting first.
Of course, non-responsive sites aren’t always up with the times, meaning you’ll likely be stuck surfing a data sapping website more often than not. Most nowadays are mobile-ready, but for those which aren’t you’re better off avoiding them until you’ve got a Wi-Fi connection.
Data Hog Offender #4: Maps
Maps are by far the biggest data sapper there is; the key problem with map based software is that you’ll use it when you’re lost, so won’t be in an area where you have Wi-Fi access, maximising its potential damage to your tariff. Data is also in constant use with features like this, as it has to keep a track of your location unlike many other features shown here, meaning that an hour’s trip can use buckets full of megabytes.
You’ll know when your maps software is draining data the most as the handset itself will heat up, proving just how hard it’s working to keep a fix on your location. Some smartphones feature offline maps now which helps, but it’s still an issue for the majority of smartphone users.
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Luckily, it’s likely that the majority of the time you’re covered by Wi-Fi services at home or at work, whilst if you’re on the go most days, Wi-Fi hotspots are on the rise. This means that whilst they still sap data, none of these should tie your tariff down too much.
Of course, if you do overrun your plan, you can always deactivate your mobile data through your phone’s settings, so you’re covered from further costs there! Finally, if you’re worried about using up your data, you can always use a data usage calculator to find out exactly how much you have spare.
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