How to save on data costs on your phone

Data costs are very high in South Africa, yet using data is essential when it comes to our everyday smartphone experience. But there are things you can do to ensure you don’t pay as much, finds Angelique Ruzicka

Many cell phone users find that data charges take up a huge slice of their budget. But if you manage it correctly your data bundle could go much further than it does now. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Delete apps and widgets

It’s important to delete apps and widgets (that sit on your home screen that are constantly updating) that you no longer use. Not only will this create more space on your phone but it will help you in saving on data charges because they could be downloading data in the background which will be a drain on your data bundle.

“Applications and phone software also need to be updated from time to time, to make sure they are always secure, don’t pose a security risk and any new features are loaded. Ideally you should update them using WiFi, but in an emergency, you can buy a daily data bundle. On Cell C for instance, you can buy a 20MB bundle at only R4 to use for an urgent application update or quick Facebook post,” says Karin Fourie, executive head of communications at Cell C.

  1. Time your updates

If you allow updates when your phone is not connected to a WiFi service this will again cost you more. On Android phones go to Google Settings, Data Management and then set your apps to update over WiFi only.

  1. Reduce the time spent on watching videos

Looking at videos or movies on your phone will be a huge drain on your data bundle. Make sure video files on a page or feed aren’t sapping your data as they can drain a lot of it in a very short space of time. This goes for videos that you watch on social media too like on Facebook and Twitter. On both of these websites you can disable the auto play feature for videos.

“Also, uploading photos and video will use up data, so try use WiFi for those services. For messaging, you can bolt on a Cell C WhatsApp bundle for R12 valid for 30 days (also available on a monthly recurring bundle) to make sure that your child can always get hold of you, even if they have no data left,” adds Fourie.

  1. Bundles

Rather buy bundles than pay out-of-bundle-rates. Speak to your service provider about getting the right package to suit your budget. You can either top up when you need to or subscribe to a monthly recurring bundle.

  1. Roam wisely

If you go overseas on holiday browsing online can end up being an expensive affair as data costs don’t apply on roaming. Switch off connections that you can do without and connect again when there’s free WiFi available. Speak to your mobile phone provider about international roaming options, or better yet, buy a local SIM in the country where you are holidaying and use that. It will probably work out much cheaper!

  1. Keep track of your data usage

If you’re not sure where you are going wrong and you’re paying a lot in data costs then it’s probably a worthwhile exercise to track your data usage. Vodacom, for example, has an app that allows you to do just that. Otherwise most smartphones and tablets have a built-in method to track how much data is being used and what applications are using them, says Fourie.