How to Reduce Data Usage on your Android phone

Mobile data, either in a pay as you go or an unlimited plan, costs money and is definitely not cheap. If you do not have access to Wifi (free or paid), you have to pay your cellular operator for internet access at an alarming rate sometimes. In India, mobile data is not highly subsidized even for outdated 2G EDGE/GPRS access and 4G LTE is almost out of the question here. Hence, there are some tricks that every Android user should be aware of to reduce their cellular data usage. Here, we are giving you just that. Follow on this post to learn about some rather nifty tips and tricks to reduce your data usage!

Switch Off the data connection when not needed


Toggle the data connection off when not needed, it is as simple as that. There may be many background apps that drain your data balance in the background even when the screen is off. A downside of turning data Off, is that your Whatsapp and facebook updates will not be shown until you switch it On again.

Use Opera mini


It might be one of the longest standing mainstream mobile browsers but is still one of the most widely used out there. And yes, it is also the most common and the simplest tool to reduce your data usage while browsing. What Opera mini does, is that it reduces the data usage by rerouting the webpage you requested through their own servers to compress the size of the webpages’ images and other content.

It, in fact, actually re-renders the webpage and sends back the minimalistic version to your device. All those heavy elements such as javascript, flash, etc will be blocked though. You can also set the quality of the image to be loaded from low to high, or even turn off the images. If you don’t have Opera Mini installed, grab it right now for free from Play Store!

Download Opera mini

Use Opera Max or Onavo Extend


Opera Max brings the same functionality as that of Opera Mini to all other apps installed on your device. Yes, that includes facebook, whatsapp, flipboard and almost every other app on your device. This translates to significantly more savings on data! They even claim that Opera Max can compress a 10mb video to 3mb. But one thing that lets Opera Max down is that it’s still in open Beta and is not available across all regions.

Download Opera Max


Onavo Extend also brings similar functionality. Yes, Onavo was the same company that was in the news back when it was acquired by Facebook. It uses a VPN to reroute the traffic from your phone to Onavo’s servers to compress them (similar to opera mini and max) but you’ll have to re-activate the VPN every time you restart your device. You can get Onavo Extend for free from Play Store.

Download Onavo Extend

Enable Data compression in Chrome


If you are using Chrome as your default browser, enable the data compression option from the settings menu of the app. It uses a similar principle as that of Opera Mini to compress data from webpages.

Reduce the YouTube video quality


Use the YouTube’s ‘Limit mobile data usage’¬†option. YouTube has an option to reduce data usage when on mobile network, enable this so that the YouTube app loads a lower quality version of a video when on mobile networks. Same can be done for audio streaming apps such as spotify too.

Save your Maps Offline


Google Maps has the option to download areas, so that they can be used when you’re offline. You can do that by long pressing a location, and choosing “Save map to use offline” from the menu.

Don’t clear your Browser caches

Well, this one is still up for debate whether cache should be cleaned regularly or not. Cleaner apps such as Clean Master, DU speed booster, etc suggest you to clean the caches from apps. It is true that it frees-up more space on your device, but cache is meant to make your web browsing faster by saving the static web content on your device, and calling that up while updating just the dynamic elements the next time you browse to a website. So, the next time you clean your apps’ cache, remember to exclude the web browsers!

Compress your images before sharing


Sharing high quality images can cause a big dent in your data usage. You shouldn’t worry about WhatsApp as it natively reduces the image size before sharing. But sharing pictures to other apps in full resolution can be a real headache. Well, you can reduce the image size before sharing by using apps such as AVG Image Shrink & Share or even Pixlr Image editor for that. This will save you a lot of precious bandwidth.

Download AVG image shrink & share

Use Onavo count


Onavo count doesn’t reduce your data usage, but provides an awesome way to keep track of it. You can even make weekly and monthly data usage reports. And it also shows a list of the 20 most popular apps and how much data they use on an average. One more notable feature of Onavo Count is that you can compare your per-app data usage with the world average on that particular app. It is from the same developer as Onavo Extend, which we mentioned earlier. You can go ahead and get Onavo count for free from the Play Store.

Download Onavo Count

Restrict background data


Restricting background data is a must for reducing your data usage. Use the stock data counter or the Onavo count to measure the per-app data usage. Check the background data usage of each app this way, and choose the option to restrict the data usage of every data hungry app on your device.

If you’ve any suggestions, let us know in comments below!

  • David Agostinho

    You are missing Neopard for android. Compresses images and video too, even under SSL or apps using encryption. Was the only app thap compressed youtube for me, and even google play store. Savings for me ate from 20% to 50% less using heavy data consumption overall. On onavo extend you can forget about videos and on opera max forget about videos and ssl, almost everything uses encryption these days.
    Now the thing is, i got up to 75% or 90% on some specific apps like flipboard or facebook, under onavo extend or opera max but overall usage was a poorer percentage number, and that’s really what counts here because you use dozens of apps everyday, not just some, and certainly not just unencrypted data apps. Even if you activate opera browser all terrain mode already compressing around 80% and google chrome’s data saving on, saving around 30%, you still can save significately under Neopard on top of those numbers. If it’s not availlable on a specific region for download, send them an email, they’ll send you a copy of the apk.