Saving Airtime By Managing Your Android Data Usage!


android_awesomerong>By Isheunesu Tsiga

Are you one of the people who get too worried about enabling your data usage on your mobile device?
Do you consistently check your airtime balance (credit) much to your shock it keeps sharply reducing.


Well in this piece I will give specific focus to Android operating system although this worrisome problem cuts across all platforms though the remedies differ across platforms.


Google OS evidently made its mark on the smartphone arena by introducing the celebrated Android operating system for mobiles, giving established brands like Apple, Nokia, Blackberry and company a run for their money.


Having a permissive license that allows the software to be freely modified and distributed Open source) by mobile manufacturers, it has become the world’s most widely used smartphone platform.


Personally I must admit Android is amazing if the display, efficiency (due to its multi-tasking abilities) as well as a vast amount of applications available for download from the Google Store are anything to go by.


It is the issue of data or airtime consumption that has shocked most newbies to this operating system.
android 2
At my first experience I lost $3 in about 20 minutes and I tell you it can be worse. My reaction to this was to instantly turn the phone to flight mode, this option disables the entire network of your device, be it for incoming calls or even messages (talk of desperate measures!)

Well I’m sure some of you are on the verge of taking more drastic steps than this like giving up your Android. Well don’t throw your phone through the window yet, consider some of the measures below that can effectively cut data usage without compromising your android experience.

Switch off location

This is the only setting that most people tend to leave activated yet it continuously communicates with your Operating system and online based apps to locate and broadcast your location on most platforms

Disable back ground data

Most Android default applications are designed to run or automatically start in the background. This means even if you don’t manually open them, applications like Gmail, Google maps etc will be running or even updating themselves automatically, using your hard earned airtime of course.
Therefore you need to disable background data. To do this, navigate to your Settings – Accounts and Sync then disable background data. Not doing this will mean all your internet applications are downloading latest content on the back ground and that will not spare your airtime.

Use lighter browsers

Default browsers that comes with your device do not have a compression agent, they are designed to give maxmum quality on download hence they will load full image sizes .

Downloading browsers like Opera Mini, Yandex and UC Browser (for Android) will cut your data usage substantially when you browse the internet. This is because they compress websites before sending them to your device leading to less data consumption.

Opera mini actually cuts down data by 90%

Use Wi-Fi

Wifi access is the way to go for your device, even when you have disabled background services,most apps by default will still automatically update in the background.

Finding free Wi-Fi can be the best option here yet it can be a hassle but you can set your device to notify you when an open network is available.


By simply navigating to your Settings – Wireless and networks – Wi-Fi settings. I recommend this when you want to download direct from the Google Market as it is cost efficient. Navigating and downloading in the Market using mobile data will stress your airtime substantially as most of these apps are fairly huge.


Therefore if your device comes without the much needed applications like Whatsapp or Opera Mini, downloading via Wi-Fi is best. Alternatively, you can get someone to send you the set up file which you can then install (Android set up files come in .apk format)


Manage applications

If you navigate to your Settings – Applications, you will find categories of ‘downloaded’, ‘running’ and ‘all’ applications. The ‘running’ section shows applications which are currently active on your device. Therefore manually stopping all applications that require internet connection (which you are not using) is another way of stopping unnecessary data consumption.

Avoid ‘free’ applications you don’t really need

Free applications are free in the sense that you don’t pay for them when you download from the Google Market. You however pay for them indirectly once you have installed them through adverts. Do you ever encounter those annoying adverts that pop up your notification bar every now and then? If you check closely you will realise a free app is responsible for a certain ad.


These ads use data since they always refresh and give you the latest offering from the software developer (that’s where they get their revenue!), smart aren’t they? Unless you purchase ad killers such as AD Blocker (available in Google Store), there is no way of removing the advert as long as the free application is still in the phone.


So hold on to your android based Gtel, Astro, HTC, keep your Sony Ericson and don’t throw away that cool Samsung Galaxy too, try the measures above and I hope they will alleviate the data woes.


I also want to applaud the fact that we have local brands like releasing a variety of Android smartphones and local markets to download our own Zimbabwean affiliated apps.


Thumbs up to such moves!

Till next time. Ciao.

Isheunesu Tsiga is a 19 year old technology hobbyist and can be contacted on 0779800301 [email protected]

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