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Cut my data usage

28th September 2018

Mobile data usage is the single biggest reason people overspend on their mobile phone bill; these FAQs and tips should help you manage your allowance more effectively.

Why is my Phone using Data when Wi-Fi is available?

When Wi-Fi signal is available, your phone will generally use it and not your mobile data. However, it’s not quite as simple as that; your phone will connect and use the strongest signal available to it. Even when you’re at home, if your Wi-Fi signal drops, your phone will fall back onto your mobile data if it’s switched on.

In recent years we’ve been introduced to features like Wi-Fi Assist which automatically switch your phone to mobile data if the Wi-Fi signal is poor. Wi-Fi Assist is great for those who require uninterrupted connection, for example those who work remotely or on the go. However, it can be a nuisance if your monthly data allowance is low.

Why is my Phone using Data when I’m asleep?

Background data, updates and backups are the real killers here. Background data usage is something we’ve blogged about before. Background data means that an app is using data even when you’re not actively using it. For example, your Email app will regularly check for new mail whether the app is open or not and your Snapchat will work away to keep your stories and discover section up-to-date. Android phones will also switch to mobile data when the screen is off, to save on the battery. If this happens then any apps you have running in the background will use mobile data.

Similarly, for updates and backups, the default setting on most phones is to Auto-Update, though you can easily set these to Wi-Fi only.

What can I do?

The good news is, there are various measures you can take to address these issues.

Turn off Wi-Fi Assist. For iPhone, open Settings > Mobile Data > Scroll down and toggle Wi-Fi Assist to off. For Android, open Settings > Connections > Wi-Fi > Advanced > Toggle Switch to mobile data off.

Turn off or restrict Mobile Data for individual apps in Settings. For iPhone, open Settings > Mobile Data > Toggle off individual apps. For Android, open Settings > Apps > Select an App, open Mobile Data > Toggle off Allow background data usage.

Make sure Auto-update and backups for apps like WhatsApp are done via Wi-Fi only. For iPhone, open Settings > iTunes & App Store > Under Automatic Downloads, toggle Use Mobile Data off. For Android, open Play Store > Settings > Auto-update apps > Select Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only.

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