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How to Reduce Data Usage on Your iPhone or Android Phone

Published: November 29, 2023

Using data on your smartphone when traveling internationally can get expensive fast. Roaming charges add up quickly, and it’s easy to accidentally use more data than you intended. The good news is there are simple steps you can take to reduce your data usage on your iPhone or Android phone and avoid costly overage fees. In this article, we’ll share tips to help you curb data consumption when traveling abroad with your iPhone or Android device.

Tip 1: Disable Automatic App Updates on Your iPhone or Android

One of the biggest data drains is apps updating in the background. 

  • On your iPhone, go to Settings > iTunes & App Store and toggle off App Updates. 
  • On Androids, open Play Store > Settings > Auto-update apps > Don’t auto-update apps. 

Only update apps manually when connected to WiFi. This prevents large app updates from eating away at your data allowance.

Tip 2: Switch Off Background App Refresh on Your iPhone or Android

Background app refresh allows apps to update content in the background even when you’re not actively using them. This constant syncing uses a lot of data.

  • On iPhones, disable this in Settings > General > Background App Refresh.
  • On Androids go to Settings > Data usage > Background data. 

Turn it off globally or for individual apps. You can always refresh apps manually when needed.
In your device settings, you can restrict background data usage for certain apps that don’t need to be continuously updated. Disable background data for social media, messaging, email, and other apps that can wait for manual refreshes. Allow navigation, travel and language translation apps background access as needed.

Tip 3: Use WiFi Whenever Possible

Whenever you have access to a reliable WiFi connection, use it instead of your mobile data for browsing, streaming, and updating apps. WiFi won’t count towards your data allowance, so take advantage of it. The less mobile data you use on your smartphone, the more you’ll save.

Tip 4: Enable Data Saving Mode on Your iPhone or Android

Most devices have a data saving or low data mode that restricts and compresses background data usage. 

  • On iPhones, enable Low Data Mode in Settings > Mobile Data. 
  • For Androids, turn on Data Saver in Settings > Network & internet > Data Saver. 

This prevents non-essential app activities from consuming your precious data.

Tip 5: Monitor Your Data Usage on Your iPhone or Android

Keep an eye on how much data you’ve used during your trip.

  • On iPhones, check Settings > Mobile Data > Mobile Data Usage to see consumption by app.
  • On Androids, go to Settings > Network & internet > Data usage.

Identify and restrict any data-hogging apps. Being aware of your usage will help manage your iPhone or Android data on the go.

Tip 6: Use Offline Maps for Navigation on Your iPhone or Android

Turn-by-turn navigation apps can consume a lot of data. So use offline maps whenever possible to save your mobile data allowance.

  • On iPhones, download offline Apple or Google maps before your trip via WiFi.
  • On Androids, download offline maps from Google Maps or your preferred navigation app while on WiFi.

Then use offline navigation with GPS only when you need directions. This prevents the app from pulling down map data continuously using your smartphone’s mobile data. Offline maps only use a small amount of data for routing, saving your data plan. Remember to download updated offline maps periodically.

Tip 7: Switch on Airplane Mode When Service is Weak

In areas with poor signal, like mountains or rural locations, enable Airplane mode on your device to avoid excessive battery drain and background data use trying to connect. Manually turn data back on as needed when you regain a strong signal.

Tip 8: Download Entertainment Offline

If you plan to watch movies, TV shows, YouTube videos or listen to music during your trip, download content while on WiFi to view offline later. Streaming entertainment eats up mobile data. Download playlists, podcasts, movies and shows before you go to avoid roaming charges.


Using mobile data internationally requires careful management. Follow these 5 simple tips tailored for iPhones and Androids to reduce your data usage and avoid costly overages. Monitor your consumption, use WiFi, update apps on WiFi, and enable data saving modes. With a few small changes, you can save on your phone bill. Enjoy your trip without data usage worries!

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