Data is king. Almost every operator and MVNO offers unlimited text and conversations with their cellular packages. Where they differ is the amount of data available, so that’s the part that can save you or spend the most money.
Both iOS and Android allow you to monitor your own mobile internet usage, so you don’t need to trust operator measurements. There is a built-in feature on your phone that allows you to track how many GB you use and automatically limits data usage when you are close to max.
Tracking Cellular Data Usage on iPhone
After you enter your SIM (or activate eSIM), your iPhone pulls information from the operator, including the package, billing period, and current data usage. Because this information comes from the operator, you cannot track data usage completely independently on the iPhone. But you can watch your operators’ calculations grow to make sure there are no suspicious jumps.
Under “Usage” you will see your current data usage. If you scroll down to Cellular Data, you will find a list of system applications. If you choose to disable the switch, the application will no longer have access to cellular data. Instead, it will only use Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. Ideally, you only want to use this toggle in a limited tier data package where your limit is under 5 GB.
If you are slowly approaching your limit, the best way to avoid overuse is to activate “Low Data Mode.” To activate, select “Cellular Data Options” located in the same menu. Once activated, the application will not use data unless you use it actively, video streaming is reduced, automatic data synchronization is disabled, and services like Photos will pause the update. This should only be used when you are within a few GB of your limit.
However, there is no way to get a warning when you are near your data limit. It might be through third-party applications such as those created by operators, but nothing is built into the software. Without application assistance, the only way to find out how to use your application is to check “Usage” periodically under “Cellular” in Settings.
Tracking Cellular Data Usage on Samsung Phones
On Samsung Galaxy smartphones, select “Connection,” then “Data usage.” Above on this page is a bar graph of your current data usage relative to your data limit. To configure this graph for your wireless plan, select “Billing cycle and data warnings.”
Select “Start active billing cycle” to choose the day your billing cycle starts every month. Turn on “Set warning data” to receive a warning when you arrive at the specified number of gigabytes for this month. Ideally, this number should be set around 2-4 GB if your plan has limited data. For those who have a plan with an excess data usage fee, we recommend activating “Set a data limit” and set the data limit to not less than 1 GB of your monthly data allowance to cut cellular data.
Finally, to review individual application data usage, select “Cellular data usage”. Here, you will find a chart that tracks your data usage and a list of all apps that consume data, which are ranked from highest to lowest. You can tap individual applications here to access controls such as limiting background data usage.
Tracking Cellular Data Usage on an Android Stock Phone
For phones running stock or near-stock Androids like Google Pixels or OnePlus devices, go to Settings -> Network & Internet -> Cellular Networks. From there, select “Data warnings & limits”, then tap “Application data usage cycle” and choose the day your plan starts every month. For example, if your billing cycle is from January 15 to February 14, you will select “15.” When today reaches the month, your device will restart the calculation.
While you are still on this page, you can turn on “Set data warnings, then tap” Data warnings “to choose a threshold for data usage that, when crossed, will notify you. It’s best to place a warning of around 2-4 GB before you reach the amount allocated.
You can also enable “Set data limits” to select points where you can no longer use cellular data. After activating the switch, select “Data limit” and enter the amount of GB not less than 1 GB less than the amount of data allowed. Once exposed, all applications must use Wi-Fi for data needs, protecting you from exceeding your limits.
Finally, return to the previous page and select “Application data usage.” Here, you can monitor data usage with the application and even review last month to see consistency and differences in usage. Selecting any application will take you to a page with two turns off: “Background data” and “Unlimited data usage.” Most applications have the latter disabled by default, but if you find that the application consumes a lot of the data that you allocated, deactivate the “Background data” switch.