Maximising your mobile data

26 October 2017

Singaporeans consume mobile content and data at an alarming rate, with mobile data consumption surging from 2.3 petabytes in 2010 to 12.9 petabytes in 2017i. With many Singaporeans using a single device for work and play, that limited data allowance is spread thinner than ever. Here are some ways you can make your data go the extra mile.

Limit background data

Push notifications, automatic app updates and auto-sync can drain your data significantly. To prevent this from happening, you can restrict app access to background data.


For iPhone users, you can go to Settings > General > Background app refresh and turn “Background App Refresh” off. On Android, go to Settings > Data Usage and tap the 3 dots on the top right. You should then see the option to ‘Restrict Background Data’.


Do note that you might lose some app functionality. For instance, your friends might not be able to call you through Whatsapp and you will not receive notifications from your email clients unless you manually open the app. To get past this, you can customise which apps to bypass the restriction so that you can save data but retain usage of essential apps. 

Configure your apps

Videos are by far the biggest culprits at eating up your data - just 1 hour of streaming HD content on Netflix can burn up to 4GB of your data. Fortunately, most media streaming apps allow users to store their content offline for later consumption. Netflix even has an option to download shows straight to your device storage. The same applies for Spotify, where you can download entire playlists onto your phone memory.


This way, you can still enjoy your media content on the go without burning your data cap. Other common apps that consume unnecessary data are Facebook and Instagram. By default, these apps automatically load videos even on a 4G connection. To prevent this, go into the settings of each app and turn off video autoplay. Instagram even has an option to load lower quality pictures in order to save more bandwidth.

Compress your data

Extend your data usage by using VPN apps that are designed to minimise the amount of data you use. They work by sending data to their servers and compressing it before sending it to your phone. If you browse the web frequently or tend to download heavy corporate files and documents, the data savings from using VPN apps can be significant.


For instance, Onavo Extend (for iPhone & Android) can reduce your data consumption by up to 50%. A cool feature of Onavo Extend is that it breaks down your data usage from individual apps so that you can figure out which app is draining your data. Alternatively, Opera Max (Android) also does the job.

Get a mobile plan that fits your lifestyle

With the introduction of advanced productivity apps and improvements in smartphone technology, smartphones are fast becoming the preferred way to consume digital content. It’s no wonder why existing data limits can no longer satiate our hunger for data. If you still find yourself constantly exceeding your data cap, it might be time to evaluate your mobile plans.


Most users will find that their data consumption peaks during the weekend, where social media usage and media content consumption is at its highest. Find a plan that suits your data consumption habits. Most high data allowance plans are expensive, but you get what you pay for. Mostly importantly, don’t let data caps inhibit or restrict you from being productive or having fun – especially on weekends. Consider a switch to StarHub’s unlimited weekend plans so that you don’t have to limit your fun.

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