First, a bit of detail about how all this came about. Phones. I get a lot of them to review. I borrow them then send them back, but with different sizes of SIM cards and some handsets offering dual-SIM functionality, it can result in me using Pay As You Go SIM cards to properly test a phone.
This week I have the Acer Liquid Jade Z and I’ve grabbed an EE 4G SIM pack from my local 99p shop because I’m classy that way. Trouble is, the range of data plans available on this particular SIM aren’t that great, so I plumbed for the £1 offering that delivers 100MB for a week.
Yes, a whole £1. This is for an EE “Data pack” which also gives me a massive 10 minutes of talk time per week and 10 texts. There’s plenty more to choose from, but I’m going to be really frugal here and only spend a quid
So first up, I need to go into settings and set a data warning. I’ve got to keep an eye on my consumption. In “Data Usage” on this Acer I can see that I’ve already used just over 22MB, which isn’t a great start as I’ve only had the pack 24 hours. I can also see, if I drill down into the “EE” details, that around half of this was due to Google Play Store.
What I can do at this point is either ..
a) Go into Google Play and ensure that apps only ever update over WiFi (not over the mobile network, consuming my tiny 100MB allowance)
b) Ad shown above, stop / restrict background data.
The problem in this instance was the background data, which had consumed the 11.64MB. I can restrict data on a “per app” basis or do it for everything. If you do restrict background data system-wide it’ll warn you, and you’ll get a constant reminder in the notification tray. Not only that, but you’ll need to do things like manually refreshing GMail when you want to check your mail on mobile networks.
I can also see that Twitter has used 4.11MB, but here it’s all my fault – this is “foreground data”….
This means that I’ve actively opened the app and refreshed it. As any Twitter user will know, it’s now a world of images and videos, so the fix here is either to not use Twitter quite so much or to go into the Settings on Twitter and disable image previews.
Will this be enough?
If I’m honest, no. Of course not, because I’ll need to change my behaviour too. Making these changes to the OS will reduce data usage and will improve battery life, but if I’m manually refreshing my Twitter feed or Facebook updates it’ll soon add up again. Likewise, the more I browse, the more data I’ll use. I can reduce this a little if I turn on the “Reduce data usage” option in Chrome, but I’m still going to have to put some thought into how and when I use data.
As an example, if I need to download or update an app, I should perhaps wait until I can stand outside McDonalds and use their WiFi. If I want to download a big email attachment or post an image to Twitter or Instagram it’s another WiFi-only activity. There’s an element of planning, and apps such as TuneIn, Spotify or YouTube are a big no-no on a rationed data package like this.
I’ll be following up on this next week to let you know more on the Jade Z and how I got on with 100MB, so stay tuned and follow the site on Twitter.