If you are anything like me, you are scared of your monthly data bill. Before you know it, you are knee deep in going a few hundred megabytes over your allowance, and that will cost you. Was that Facebook update really worth the expense? Did you even know you were downloading podcasts in the background? Ouch.
UK data rates can vary wildly from just 10p per megabyte on Three up to a whopping £3 per megabyte on O2 Pay As You Go so they could really add up. But Android has a great feature built into it to save you money if an unlimited plan is not part of your data tariff, and it is buried in the system settings screen. The top section is dedicated to network settings, and if you select the ‘Data Usage’ option you get to a screen similar to that on the right.
The first option allows you to switch data on and off, and is your first and best way to restrict data downloads on your device. If you are happy using WiFi you may want to set this to ‘off’ permanently.
The next option is to set a data usage allowance and Android gives you a way of managing this pretty effectively. If ‘Set mobile data usage’ is ticked, you can set the period that monitoring is to run from. This would usually coincide with your monthly Billing cycle date.
Next you specify data limit by dragging the red bar up and down as appropriate. As a rule of thumb, I take the maximum limit and knock off around 5%. The reason for this is that the limit as recorded by your network may differ from your phone. The last part involves dragging the orange line to a suitable level which you want to be warned about. Once this limit is breached, you will be notified but data will still be enabled. When the red limit is exceeded your data usage stops completely, unless you over ride it of course.
If you really want to fine tune what your applications can and cannot do, you can also set the limits to each individual app. By clicking on an app in the bottom of the screen, you then can activate the “Restrict background data” box to force that app to only use WiFi.
But let me sound off with a warning: just because Android says you are within your tariff allowance doesn’t mean you really are. Your network may record your data usage differently so make sure you give yourself some leeway. If in doubt, call your network!