Shared from the 9/23/2019 The Oklahoman eEdition






Our love affair with data is strong. So strong, in fact, that wireless carriers are doubling down on unlimited data.

Rather than bumping up to unlimited, dig into your habits and learn more about your favorite apps. You can likely cut down your data usage with a few simple tweaks. And you may find you can reduce your data plan — and your monthly bill—in the process.

How much data you use

The average smartphone owner uses 2GB to 5GB of data each month. To know whether your usage falls above or below that threshold, look no further than your own phone. Most phones track overall data usage. They also break down data usage by app, so you can see how many of your precious gigabytes are being drained by Spotify or Instagram.

To find your data usage on an Android device, go to “Settings,” then “Data usage.” You’ll see your total usage for a given date range, which you can change to align with your billing cycle, plus a breakdown by application. On an iPhone, the same information is in “Settings” under “Cellular.” If you’ve never set a date range, it will show your cumulative usage from the time you activated the phone. You can click “Reset Statistics” to start tracking your usage from a specific date.

Most carriers also have a mobile app that will track your data usage. The My Verizon Mobile app, for example, calculates data usage for each line on your account.

How much data your apps use

As you were checking your stats, you probably noticed that some apps are more greedy than others. It’s common knowledge that streaming video or music uses heaps of data.

Streaming 30 minutes of video per day via apps such as Facebook, YouTube or Netflix uses more than 5GB of data in a month, for example. And streaming an hour of music per day adds up to almost 2GB over 30 days, according to Verizon Wireless’s Data Calculator.

What’s not common knowledge is how much data usage varies by app and streaming quality. Those can be big variables, so understanding the difference is important.

Spotify has four streaming settings. Google Play has three. YouTube has seven and will adjust yours based on your connection, unless you select a streaming quality.

How to adjust your usage

Once you know how much data your apps use, you can take steps to decrease your usage — and that doesn’t necessarily mean watching fewer videos. From your settings menu, you can turn off certain apps so they don’t use data at all, or you can adjust the settings in your favorite apps to reduce your data usage without really changing how you use your phone. You’ll need to do this in each app, though you can focus on the ones that take up the most data.

Switch to a lower streaming quality on music and video apps. You can usually find this option in each app’s Settings menu.

You should also check the settings on your social media apps, many of which also play videos. Facebook, for example, automatically plays videos in your feed as you scroll. This can eat up a lot of data. Manage this feature by going to “App Settings” while in your Facebook app and clicking on “Autoplay.” Then select either “Never Autoplay Videos” or choose to play them only when connected to Wi-Fi.

That brings us to the next great way to minimize your data usage: Wi-Fi.

When you connect to Wi-Fi, you stop using cellular data. That means you can stream, download and upload to your heart’s content without cutting into your data allotment.

If you always listen to Spotify on your commute, download your playlist while you’re home and connected to Wi-Fi, then listen in offline mode and save your data for something else, suggests Phil Burrows, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless.

See this article in the e-Edition Here