About one-third of those who own a smartphone say the cost is a financial burden. If you use a smartphone but are stressed out over the cost of data access charges, then you will want to review the following list of activities that use a lot of data. If you do any of these tasks routinely, they can rapidly increase your mobile phone bill.
Smartphone tasks that significantly increase data access charges
- Uploading and watching videos
- Streaming music such as Pandora or Spotify (FM radio is usually okay)
- Video chats (versus texting or Instant Messaging/IMs)
- Real-time action games (solitaire and Sudoku are usually okay)
- Turn-by-turn GPS Navigation
- Sharing/attaching/viewing photos on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Sending/receiving email attachments (photo, documents)
- Clicking on Twitter links or following a lot of Twitter accounts
- Surfing the Internet (on average, 1MB data for every 3 pages visited)
- Download email automatically
Fear not; you can reduce your data access charges by changing a few habits. And most of the changes are fairly painless and easy to make.
Four ways to reduce data access charges
Turn on WiFi service whenever it’s available: at home, while at work, or when visiting a coffee shop or any other location with free WiFi. On WiFi, you can perform data-heavy tasks without racking up data access charges on your phone carrier’s network. Making this one change, I found I could reduce data usage by one-third to one-half without changing any of my tasks. You reduce data usage further by changing the following habits.
Stop doing activities that use a lot of data when you are only trying to kill time. When you’re simply taking a break from work, or you’re alone or waiting for someone, stick to idle tasks that don’t use a lot of data: play solitaire, listen to cached (saved) music files, send text messages, or make phone calls. But monitor games closely, I’ve found solitaire games that use more data than they should. So monitor the data usage and switch games or tasks if you need to.
Limit data-heavy tasks to time at your computer instead of on your smartphone. This is especially true if you stream movies or music, or watch YouTube videos. This might be harder for you to change if streaming is one of your primary uses of your smartphone. But if budget is a concern, this is one of the most expensive ways to enjoy this entertainment.
Change your method of using data-heavy features. If you are hooked on data-heavy features, you don’t have to give them up entirely if you change the way you use them. The following changes greatly reduce data access from your smartphone: Surf the internet on your smartphone, but bookmark links to read later (on your computer or when WiFi is available). Save Pandora or Spotify music albums on your phone to play, rather than streaming the music. Or listen to FM radio. Stick to text messaging rather than IMs if you aren’t on WiFi. Look up driving directions on your computer, print them out, and take them with you rather than using turn-by-turn GPS navigation. Don’t automatically download email, fetch it manually.
Using all of these techniques will greatly reduce your data access usage and keep your smartphone bill as low as possible. These changes are fairly painless to make. When you get your next smartphone bill, you’ll be happier and stress less, now that your data access charges are finally within a reasonable budget.