With so many streaming services available these days, it’s easy to see why our mobile data usage has skyrocketed in recent years. Between Q1 of 2015 and Q1 of 2019, the amount of mobile data used in Singapore more than doubled, from 9.7PB to 20.5PB.

By the way, and ‘PB’ is short for Petabyte. Which is a cool 1,000,000 Gigabytes. That's a lot of data.

But let’s get back on track. How can you get the most out of your monthly data allowance? Whether you’re stuck at work or can’t help binging every show you come across — yes, we’ve all been there — we've got a solution for you.

How to Save Your Mobile Data

There are some great ways to conserve your cellular data. However, methods differ depending on your phone's Operating System (OS). As such, we’ve broken down how to save your mobile data according to iOS and Android, the two main OSs available for mobile.

Save Mobile Data: iPhone & Other iOS Devices

If you’re using iOS 12 on an iPad or iPhone, here are our tips to help you conserve data:

1. Switch off Wi-Fi assist & turn on low data mode: If you head to the settings on your phone and into Mobile Data, and scroll all the way down to the bottom of the list, just below System Services you should see ‘Wi-Fi Assist’. When on, it causes your phone to switch over to mobile data automatically if your Wi-Fi becomes too slow. So turn it off!

While you’re at it, turn on Low Data Mode under Mobile Data Options in the same settings page.

2. Turn off cellular data for unnecessary apps: From the same Mobile Data menu, go through the list of apps that are currently using mobile data - you can even see how much data is being used directly below the app name - and switch off the ones that use the most data so that you only access when connected to Wi-Fi.

3. Don’t let your phone update apps unless connected to Wi-Fi: Even if you don’t have that many apps installed, the ones that come pre-installed on your phone or tablet will update using your data unless you put a stop to it. Head to your settings, then App Store where you’ll find Automatic Downloads. Make sure it is turned off.

4. Minimise data usage in emails: Get lots of emails with image attachments? That can eat away at your data more than you think, especially when they’re high-resolution pictures. Disable auto-downloading of image attachments by going to settings->mail, and toggle Load Remote Images to off.

5. Switch off video autoplay: Bit of a social media addict? All those autoplay videos are impacting how much data you use! Switching the autoplay function off on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is relatively easy, though they are all different apps. In the app settings of each, you’ll find something like ‘data’ or ‘video’ settings. Proceed from there and stop the data-consuming monster that is autoplay.

6. Turn off mobile data completely: If you’ve tried everything to no avail and are desperate for anything to stop going over your monthly allowance, head to Settings->Mobile Data and turn off Mobile Data. And now… nothing. No more streaming. No more gaming. No more going down the rabbit hole on Reddit on your way home. Go meditate or something.

Save Mobile Data: Android Devices

Now that we've covered how to save data on an iPhone or iOS mobile device, it's time to understand how Android users may minimise their data usage:

1. Limit data usage. It's literally right there: We have to say that this is actually a really cool feature. You have the ability to set the maximum amount of data you are allowed to use each month (you can even set it according to your billing cycle). Once it’s hit, you can set it to auto-disconnect. Head to settings->data usage->billing cycle->data limit and billing cycle and you’re set!

2.Only update apps using Wi-Fi: Like iOS, Android phones and tablets come with pre-installed apps. So even if you haven’t installed one of your own since you got the device, there’s a chance these pre-installed apps are kept up to date while using your data. Make sure this doesn’t happen by going to settings->auto-update apps and choose the ‘over Wi-Fi only’ option.

3. Minimise background data usage: Quite a few apps running in the background will nibble away at your data. Find out which of them are the biggest consumers by navigating to settings->data usage — by clicking each, you can discover the ‘foreground’ and ‘background’ data usage, which is exactly as it sounds; foreground data is data used while you’re in the app, background is data used when you have it minimised. If you think one or more apps are using too much background data, toggle on ‘Restrict app background data’.

4. Stop autoplay for social videos: Similar to what we discussed previously for iOS, autoplay on even a reasonable amount of social media and videos can do a fair bit of damage to your data allowance. Nip this in the bud by heading to each of your social app’s settings and look for ‘data’, ‘video play’ and the like to turn this feature off.

5. Turn off unnecessary account syncing: By default, all your accounts are set to auto-sync, which not only impacts your data but also your battery life. Kill two birds with one stone by heading to settings->accounts. Click on each of the accounts and decide whether you want sync to be on for each or not.

6. Switch off data completely: As a last resort, turn off your data for good, at least until next month when your quota is refreshed. Go to settings->network and internet->mobile network, turn off ‘mobile data’, and say goodbye to your data use temporarily.

Or maybe it’s time to switch to a network and digital service provider with better data rates. Luckily for you, M1’s Bespoke plans will give you the mobile plan of your dreams- you build your ideal plan.

Why Would You Enable Usage of Mobile Data in the Background on Apps at All?

While disabling background data use is a great way to reduce data use, there are some reasons to enable usage of mobile data in the background on certain apps.

One great example is that enabling mobile data usage in the background for apps that you use to message means you’ll still receive notifications. Switching these off means you’ll stop getting any notifications until you open the app.

Additionally, force-quitting an app uses more battery than if it were to continue in the background. Restarting it only leads to greater battery consumption. And there’s only so many portable chargers we can reasonably be expected to carry around.

So make sure you think long and hard before fully closing an app down.

How to Check Mobile Data

There are a few ways to check how much data you’ve used, though some details will differ depending on whether you’re using Android or iOS.

iOS: Settings->Mobile Data

Android: Settings->Data Usage

Then again, remembering to do so can be a hassle in and of itself. Never mind having to do it multiple times a month. That’s why M1 has a Data Usage Alert service that takes care of that — you will receive an SMS informing you of your data use.

How to Really Cut Costs on Your Data

Switching off your data is probably the most effective solution. But it’s neither a good nor reasonable solution, is it?

Instead of having to cut yourself off when you have some binge-watching planned or an upcoming project at work that’ll keep you doing overtime for a few weeks, why not just change up your data allowance for the month?

If your current provider doesn’t let you do that, maybe it’s time to switch. When you’re on a Bespoke plan with M1 though, you’re free to tweak your monthly data and call minutes as you please, because we know that life happens sometimes.

And with a good number of add-ons to choose from, you’re sure to love how your mobile plan is uniquely yours. Need infinite data? Don't worry, we have that too — for more information on our bespoke plans and add-ons, browse our FAQs page or get in touch with us.