As we move towards a data-powered society underpinned by cloud storage and streaming services, data usage is becoming an increasingly significant issue.
Because SIM only deals of the kind listed on our site tend to be priced according to monthly data limits, it’s tempting to save money by choosing a deal with modest data allowances.
However, penny-pinching contracts may backfire towards the end of each monthly billing cycle.
Given the way websites and streaming media services plough through megabytes of data, it’s easy to polish off your monthly data allowance in less than the scheduled 30 days.
That might lead you into the realms of additional data, where costs quickly spiral.
One way to avoid unexpected additions to your monthly bill involves setting data limits on your handset.
This effectively over-rides network accessibility, throttling back uploads and downloads to minimise incurred costs.
Below, we explain how to set limits on both Android and Apple smartphones – before concluding with a warning about why this isn’t necessarily a sensible long-term precaution…
The Data Usage sub-menu on Android used to be prominently positioned under the Wireless & Networks tab, but its location in newer versions like Nougat is rather less obvious.
Go to Settings > Connections > Data Usage > Billing Cycle and Data Warning. Then slide right on the Set Data Limit tab, which is switched off by default.
Once the amount of data provided in your contract is reached, mobile data will be deactivated until the following month’s billing cycle commences.
Unlike Google, Apple doesn’t believe users should have internet access throttled when monthly data limits are exceeded.
As a result, iPhone users have to disable mobile data manually. And due to limitations in iOS software, they can’t even set up a notification when their allowance is about to be breached.
To manually check how much data has been used in the current cycle, go to Settings > Mobile > Mobile Data Usage.
If disabling mobile internet has become necessary, tap the green button next to Mobile Data to block anything other than WiFi connectivity.
Reasons to be fearful
Turning off mobile data will keep your monthly costs down, but it comes at a cost.
There are situations where a 4G connection is important or necessary – attempting to Google Map your way to an important appointment, or checking an urgent email on the move.
We’d strongly recommend Android users set a usage warning while they still have a couple of hundred megabytes of spare data to play with, covering themselves for emergencies.
Again, this is something Apple users can’t do. However, they can check the data usage of individual apps at any time, and prevent them from connecting via mobile networks.
Regular housekeeping like this is vitally important if your data contract is measured in megabytes rather than gigabytes, or if you can’t easily afford additional monthly data.