How to limit mobile data usage

Connecting to the internet on your phone can use a lot of data or airtime but there are a lot of ways to reduce the amount you need to spend.

Note: This applies to Android devices only e.g. Samsung, Huawei. The instructions below might be slightly different for various phones and models.

Always buy a data bundle

If you use apps such as WhatsApp or access the internet from your phone without buying a data bundle from your network provider you will pay the highest price for data.

For example R9.00 can buy you 60MB of data, so each MB costs 15c. Using data without a data bundle costs R1.50 per MB. 10 times as much!

Turn off/restrict background data

  1. Open Settings and tap Data usage.
  2. Scroll down to view a list of your Android apps sorted by data usage (or tap Cellular Data usage to view them).
  3. Tap the app(s) you don't want to connect to mobile data and select Restrict app background data.

Turn off App auto-update

  1. Open Google Play.
  2. Tap the hamburger icon (three horizontal lines) on the top-left.
  3. Tap Settings.
  4. Tap Auto-update apps.
  5. To disable automatic app updates, select Do not auto-update apps.

Only listen to music or watch videos on a WiFi connection

Viewing text on the internet (for example in a website) uses the least amount of data. Pictures (e.g. Instagram, Facebook) use a lot more data but music (e.g. Simfy, streaming radio stations) and videos (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, Showmax, Netflix) use very large amounts of data. If possible only listen to music and watch video on the internet when you have a WiFi connection.

Use lite apps

Apps like Facebook and Twitter can use a lot of data but both have mobile versions that use less data.

If you are on Vodacom, the normal Facebook app can be switched to Data Saver mode. It also includes a data free mode which removes all pictures.

If you are on Cell C you can access Facebook and some other apps for free for free through Facebook Free Basics.

Connect to WiFi where ever possible

A number of malls, coffee shops, taxi ranks and airports have free WiFi

Turn off 4G

If your phone has a 4G data connection turning it off will limit the speed at which the internet is accessed, reducing the amount of data you use. This will also reduce battery usage.

To turn off 4G, on your phone go to Settings > Mobile Networks > Network mode and ensure it is not set to 4G or LTE.

Access the internet using an optimised browser

Optimised browsers process internet content so that it uses less data. Leading optimised browsers include Opera Mini, UC Browser, and Google Chrome

With Google Chrome you need to switch the Data Saver on. Open Chrome and go to Menu > Settings > Data Saver.

Download Gmail attachments on Wi-Fi only

In Gmail and other email apps make sure you set it so you only download email attachment manually or on WiFi.

To set this up on Gmail, open the Gmail app on your phone, go to Menu > Settings >tap your email address > Tick the box if you want to automatically download attachments when connected to WiFi or untick it if you want to download attachments manually

Monitor or disable data hungry apps

Your phone will show you which apps are using the most data. To see apps use the most data go to Settings > Data Usage. The apps will be displayed with the highest data usage first. You may want to consider uninstalling any apps that use a lot of data.

Buy a dual-SIM phone

By using a dual SIM phone you can take advantage of special offers for data and calling from 2 different mobile networks. Set your phone to use the best service from each network.

Share #datafree with your friends and family

What is #datafree?

When you see the #datafree status it means this app is using NO DATA from your airtime or data bundle balance.

We have arrangements with the mobile network operators so our advertisers can pay for the mobile data that you use.

These networks are Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom. We are working hard to add MTN as soon as possible.

Learn more about #datafree