5 tips on how to manage your data usage, even with a mobile subscription price war

A woman looking at an app store on a mobile device.
A woman looking at an app store on a mobile device.ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN

SINGAPORE - Two weeks into your phone billing cycle, you receive a notification from your telco that you are close to busting your monthly data allowance.

You scramble to cut back on data usage for the rest of the month to avoid extra charges - $10.70 for every extra 1GB, capped at $168 to $188 a month.

With the ongoing mobile subscription price war - the first time in four years - consumers can now breathe a little. Heavy users can now pay less for more.

The average Singapore user utilises slightly over 3GB of mobile data a month, making the 4GB data package the baseline mobile plan.

Here are five tips to help you better manage mobile data use.

1. Turn off Wi-Fi Assist

If you are using the latest iOS 9 firmware in your iPhone, you will find a feature in Settings under Cellular, called Wi-Fi Assist.

It ensures that video streaming stays smooth throughout by automatically hopping onto your telco's 4G network if your Wi-Fi connection weakens.

Turn it off if you want to save on mobile data.

2. Manually turn off cellular data usage for individual apps

Many apps use data in the background. Apps like Facebook, YouTube and FaceTime are the biggest data suckers.


iPhone users can track how much data each individual app consumes by clicking on Settings and Cellular.

They can also turn off mobile data use for individual apps, say, YouTube or FaceTime, and restrict their use to only when there is a Wi-Fi connection.

Android users can also track how much data each individual app consumes by clicking on Settings and Data Usage. To restrict the amount of data used by individual apps, turn on Restrict background data.

3. Turn off Facebook's video autoplay feature

If you do not want Facebook to play videos automatically and suck up precious data, follow these steps.

- Click on the Facebook app.

- Tap on More, Account Settings, Videos and Photos.

- Turn off the autoplay feature. Or have it on only when there is a Wi-Fi connection.

4. Turn off automated updates

The default setting on most phones allows apps to update automatically via cellular data. Turn it off or turn it on only when there is a Wi-Fi connection, to save on mobile data.

Android users can do so by going to Play Store, Settings, and Auto-update apps.

Turn off the auto-update feature or select auto-update only over Wi-Fi.

iPhone users can go to Settings, then iTunes & App Store to turn off Updates.

5. Download your telco's app

The three telcos Singtel, StarHub and M1 have developed apps that let mobile users keep track of their monthly usage.