Using Less Data on Your Smartphone – Optimization Tweaks

Even with Safaricom’s off-peak data offer and Airtel’s unliminet slogan, most people still wish they could get more out of their data bundles. Even though the bundles might be relatively cheaper to come by, you will still feel the pinch each time you get that ‘below 2Mbs’ text. Taming how your phone uses this valuable juice will reduce the frequency of these wretched texts. Here are some simple tips that will trick your phone into using less data and saving you a portion of the bill.

Your Sync Settings

Android automated sync keeps on connecting your phone to respective servers to check if there are any changes in your accounts and if yes download any new data. This not only consumes your data bundles but also takes some toll on your battery.

Everything, from photos, Play Store and most account oriented Apps like Mail, Facebook and Instagram work on auto sync. While this will keep you updated, it sometimes isn’t necessary. To control auto sync app, go to Settings > Accounts > Google and uncheck the accounts you don’t want on auto sync. With this off, you would have to open (tap on app in app drawer) each app before it can sync.

If you do not want anything to sync at all, go to Settings > Data Usage > Menu and uncheck Auto-sync data.

Choose the right browser

A good web browser will compress a website before sending it to your phone. This means that instead of loading a typical 2-5mb website, you would load a 500kb website (this will vary depending on your screen size and resolution.)

The best browser for the job would be Chrome. It will not only let you optimize settings to compress up to 50 percent but also give you a graph of how much data you have redeemed over days. Go to Chrome menu > Settings > (Advanced) Reduce data usage to switch on the data saving mode. If you are on non-Android, you will find relevant instructions here

Taming your Facebook

Facebook could be another common data hog on your phone. The most common reason would be in the auto-playing videos. The defaulting settings auto loads videos on your timeline regardless of whether you will watch them or not. To disable these,

Facebook Left Navigational Panel > Settings > (General Settings) Auto-Play videos on Wi-Fi only

Instagram data optimization

Instagram also preloads videos to ensure their availability whenever you play them. You can disable this in their options menu at the expense of slower video loading whenever you are using broadband internet.

instagram save data settings

Data compression apps

Data compression apps route your data requests through their server for compression before forwarding them to you. Even though they might reduce on your image and video quality, you will get super-fast load speeds and save on a lot of data especially if you frequent data heavy apps like Instagram and Pinterest. Here are two of my best.

Onavo Extend

This free app runs on the background constantly. It routes your data through Onavo servers for compression before sending it back.

Download from Play Store

Opera Max

Opera Max is from the trusted Opera Mini browser. Its ability to shrink all your unencrypted data and even videos makes it a better choice. Furthermore, it is from Opera, so you are most probably familiar with it.

Download from Play Store


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