Cell phones are ubiquitous, and tend to be important
if not necessary to own. Yet sometimes the cost of owning
and using a mobile phone can get out of hand. And the
prevalence of daunting cell phone bills only grows as
more and more apps and functions that use data come
into popular use.
The high cost of mobile data is a familiar problem
for many; too many of us have run up against exorbitant
bills after underestimating just how much data we have
been using. And, for those with restricted monthly data
allowances, exhausting the monthly supply of data can
be irritating or even crippling for those who often
depend on data.
Thankfully, there are a few tips and tricks you can
use to make sure your cell phone bill stays manageable.
By attacking from all angles and ensuring that your
mobile plan, data usage, and even texting are as efficient
as possible, you can save considerably on your mobile
each month. Here are our ten tips to cure your mobile
1. Minimize your plan.
It may sound intuitive, but before doing anything
else, make sure that you are not paying for features
you simply don't use or need. Many overpay for plans
that cover far more than their needs. Keep tabs on your
monthly texts, calls, and data use, and compare these
figures to your monthly allowance for each function.
If you pay for unlimited texts or data, for example,
but do not use much of them, you could save by switching
to a plan with lower usage caps.
2. Watch your usage.
While it also seems obvious, use your phone's settings
or an outside app to keep an eye on your usage of paid
functions such as texts, calls, and data, not only to
observe patterns but simply to ensure that you do not
incur extra fees for extra use. Check up on your usage
a couple of times throughout your billing cycle to ensure
that you do not meet or exceed any of your caps, and
so that you can plan accordingly if your usage has been
higher than you might have thought in a given month.
3. Relegate app updates to WiFi.
Automatic app updates are convenient, but they can
be a great expense when they happen over data. Not only
that, but using data to update a slew of apps can slow
your device, especially online browsing, and over time
incur long-term damage by overheating the phone and
degrading its battery. To ensure app updates don't eat
up costly data, set your phone to update automatically
only when connected to WiFi. To do this on an Android,
open Settings from the menu found in the Play Store.
Select General in the settings menu, then Auto-update
apps, and finally choose the WiFi-only option. Using
an iPhone, open Settings, then select iTunes & App Store,
and switch the Use Mobile Data option to "off."
4. Disable automatic data use.
Some devices will automatically use data to perform
additional functions that require a connection when
they are not connected to WiFi. When you don't really
need programs to use data, this can be a drain on resources.
Avoid this waste by turning off data when you can. For
devices running iOS 9, you can disable Wi-Fi Assist,
which automatically uses data in the event of a poor
WiFi connection, to conserve costly data. To do this,
select Cellular in your device's Settings, then toggle
the Wi-Fi Assist switch off.
5. Turn off or adjust push notifications.
Another way of cutting automatic data use, and therefore
associated expenses, is to adjust your push notification
settings. Because so many of the apps we receive notifications
from use Wi-Fi or data, push notifications will use
data when you are not connected to a Wi-Fi network.
This small amount of data use can add up if your phone
frequently receives push notifications. You can either
limit or completely disable push notifications in your
phone's Settings menu to save data in yet another area.
6. Cut data use by app.
If universally tweaking automatic data use is too
intrusive, you can still conserve data by disabling
automatic data use for only some apps. By blocking background
data use from specific apps, smart phone owners can
get normal function from apps of their choosing but
save on data where it least affects them. On an Android,
this can be done by selecting Mobile Data under Settings
and then selecting Restrict background data for chosen
apps. iPhone users can disable data use by specific
apps by entering Settings, then Mobile Data, and from
there toggling app data use.
7. Make email syncing manual.
Email remains a dominant mode of communication, especially
in professional and academic settings, making it a significant
source of data use for many. This is especially true
for those who send and receive a great deal of heavy
files over email. If this is a problem, change your
email sync settings from automatic to manual. For Gmail
users, this can be done by checking the "Unsync Gmail"
box in the app's Settings, which can be accessed through
8. Use data compression on Google Chrome.
If you are one of the many Google Chrome users, you're
in luck if you hope to cut back on data use. Google
Chrome offers a feature called Data Saver on most devices,
which reduces the amount of data downloaded from each
website a user accesses. While the amount of data actually
saved depends on what kind of content you use Google
Chrome to access, Google states that Data Saver can
conserve up to half of the data you would otherwise
use. To enable Data Saver, simply enter Settings, select
Data Saver, and click Enable.
9. Communicate over Wi-Fi, not text, when possible.
We tend to look to texting less when we want to save
money on mobile bills, but savings lie in SMS, too.
One way to cut costs with respect to text messaging
is to shift communication you might usually make over
text to apps that can use Wi-Fi. While this may involve
encouraging some loved ones to download and use a new
app, communication apps like WhatsApp and GroupMe are
growing in popularity and have all the functionality
of texting, if not more. By relying more on apps for
communication, you can pay for fewer texts per month,
or forgo a text messaging plan altogether, provided
you have fairly regular WiFi access.
10. Use a prepaid phone.
While not the most popular option, prepaid phone plans
have come a long way, providing affordable service for
a range of smart phones and other mobile devices. While
a prepaid phone may not be the best option for a heavy
user of functions like text and data, minimal cell phone
users can save a great deal using prepaid plans, and
can ensure that they never pay for more functions than
they are actually using.
Though it's all too easy to rack up an alarming mobile
bill, it's easy to take preventative steps, too. With
a number of angles of attack, your cellular bill worries
need be no more.
About the Author -
Sharon Housley is the VP of Marketing for NotePage,
Inc. a software company for communication software solutions.