Our smartphones allow us to have the world at our fingertips. We can talk, text, write emails, play games, watch movies and browse the web — all with a few taps and swipes.
Every day, you go about your business, phone always in hand — until you get the text message that changes everything: your data usage is high.
Then you begin to fear overcharges. There was once a time when phone plans featured a select number of minutes and texts with unlimited data. But carriers know it's the data we're after, and so they create metered plans for our iPhones and Androids.
Fear those charges no more, because we have complied a list of the best ways to preserve data on the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus as well as Android phones.
What Uses Data On Your Phone?
Just about everything we do on our phones requires data. Just one photo post on social media will take up 350KB, whereas one hour of surfing the web will suck up 15MB. One minute of video streaming uses about 4MB — 15MB if you are watching in HD, and 4MB is needed for one app or game to download.
Find The Amount Of Data You Need
Whether you're Team iPhone or Team Android, the first thing you should know is how much data you really need each month. Look at your bill to see the amount you're using, so you can tell if you're at risk for going over the allotted amount each month.
Those with AT&T service can estimate their monthly data usage with the Data Calculator offered on the website. Apple users can check their data by going to Settings > Cellular. You can see the amount used and turn off Cellular Data to restrict all data to Wi-Fi.
Android users can manage their data in Settings > Data Usage. You can edit the "set mobile data limit box," and make sure the limits match your plan. Also confirm that your monthly cycle matches with the start date of your plan.
Turn On Wi-Fi
When you can, use your phone's Wi-Fi — it won't count what you do on your phone toward your allotted amount of data. This data hack applies to both iPhones and Androids. You can turn on Wi-Fi from your phone's dropdown menus or in Settings.
Video streaming is one of the quickest and easiest ways to use up large amounts of data. And when we say video, we aren't just talking about YouTube. We mean Vine, Instagram and any other apps that feature videos. There is no hack here — even using a browser to watch a clip will still use data. All you can do is limit your time dedicated to watching videos until you have Wi-Fi.
When you do use YouTube, watch videos in low resolution by clicking on the three dots and selecting 144p.
Make sure that your Spotify playlist is set to "Available Offline" so you can play your favorite songs without streaming, and always sync your playlists only when you're connected to Wi-Fi.
Save Preloaded Data
Referring to a map is sometimes a necessity, but you can still access your routes without using data. When you're in Google Maps, press and hold your destination to drop a pin. Once you tap on the three dots to that pin, you will have the option to save the map offline. Go to Menu > Make available maps offline, or access it through Maps > My Places > Offline.
You can still read all those news stories on your commute home without using up your data by saving them first. Download articles when connected to Wi-Fi and use the app Pocket for both iPhone and Android, which allows you to read articles without data.
To use Pocket, simply copy and past the article link into the app. When you're ready to read it, go into Airplane Mode.
Find Guilty Apps
Even when you're not using them, some apps are still eating away at your data without you even knowing it. iPhone users can go into Settings > Cellular and scroll down to view all the apps and amount of data used. You can manually toggle off the data for apps you aren't using.
Android users can find their guilty apps in Settings > Wireless & Networks > Data Usage. Think about deleting nonessential apps that take away too much data. Make sure you adjust which apps you want to Auto-Sync because they can be real data killers. Apps like Google+ and Facebook are huge culprits.
iPhone-Specific Data Hacks
Apple users often view the iCloud as a saving grace, but it uses up a lot of data on your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. Your best bet is to turn off iCloud when you're using your phone heavily and just turn it on when you want to sync your iOS devices.
Also, make sure the data is off for your apps by going to Settings > iTunes & App Store. There, you can manage your automatic downloads, which are features that can also drain your battery.
When you're running low on data, avoid using FaceTime because it can eat away at data. When you're not using this feature, go to Settings > Cellular and scroll down to FaceTime to make sure it's toggled off, so it's not using data.
Android-Specific Data Hacks
Besides having the ability to manually limit your data usage, Android phones make it easy to restrict background data. Go to Settings > Data Usage > and scroll down to "restrict background data."
In the battle of iPhones vs. Androids, both phones have very similar hacks to curb data usage. Most of these hacks can be found right under Settings in both phones, so play around with them. Just remember to turn that Wi-Fi on if you want to share these tips on social media!
Photo: Maurizio Pesce | Flickr