The Samsung Galaxy S4 is really a mini-tablet that craves internet connectivity. Sure, it’s a phone but most of its functionality stems from its ability to send and receive data.
Sometimes this hungry device can consume an inordinate amount of data and if you don’t monitor your usage you can exceed the limits of your contract and could get slapped with costly fees.
That’s why it’s important to check how much data your phone is using and set limits so you don’t inadvertently end up paying a fortune on your next bill.
There are four things to do:
- Find the Data Use Setting
- Set the Data Usage Options
- Set the Data Usage Warnings
- Find the Hungriest Apps
1. Find the Data Usage Setting
To get started, swipe down the notification center from the top of the display, in the upper right corner, touch the Settings cog then choose Data usage.
2. Data Usage Options
By default, you’ll see your data usage for the current cycle which is represented by the vertical bars on the graph.
You can change the time interval by dragging each vertical bar to the left or right. As you drag your finger across the screen, the data used for that cycle updates accordingly.
In the example below you can see that I’ve used about 535MB of data between June 9th and June 23rd.
Currently the only limit on my mobile data usage is my wallet.
I have a 5GB plan but for every MB of overtime usage, my cellular provider charges me the difference – which adds up fast.
So it’s really important to set a limit so that the phone literally disables data usage when that limit is reached. To do this, touch Limit mobile data usage, click OK on the warning and then drag the horizontal red line down to set the cut off point.
Since I have a 5GB plan I set my limit to 5GB; however, it’s actually more judicious to set the limit a little lower than your plan limit because your phone and your cellular provider probably calculate data usage differently.
In my case, 4.8GB would be ideal.
3. Data Usage Warnings
You can also set up warnings when your data usage hits a predefined marker.
Tap Alert me about data usage, hit OK on the warning and drag the yellow horizontal line to some point below the red data usage limit.
Now, when you data reaches the alert limit, your phone displays a notification – but won’t disable your data. Instead it shows a warning which gives you time to allocate the rest of your data for the month.
4. Apps with the largest data appetites
You can see which apps are consuming the most data too.
Just scroll the window down to see the top contenders. Avaricious apps are listed first with all the malnourished apps begging for data bits along the bottom of the list.
You can also see more options when you press the menu key – it’s the soft key to the left of the home button that glows white when you hover your finger over it.
There are five options here:
- Data Roaming
- Restrict Background Data
- Auto Sync Data
- Show Wi-Fi Usage
- Mobile Hotspots
When you use your phone outside your cellular coverage region your phone is considered roaming. When you’re roaming out-of-network you’re using someone else’s network for data. Those networks will charge you a higher per-minute rate for calls and data usage.
Data roaming can come in handy when you’re traveling abroad; however, in most cases, I recommend you leave it disabled to avoid gratuitous data roaming charges.
Restrict Background Data
If you’re approaching the data limit, you can stop various apps from background syncing on the mobile network. This essentially forces some apps and services to only transfer data to and from the internet when they’re connected to a Wi-Fi network.
Auto Sync Data
Auto Sync Data is enabled by default; however, if you disable it then you’ll need to manually sync each app to get notifications and updates. In other words, new emails won’t push to your phone until you actually refresh your inbox.
Show Wi-Fi Usage
Touch Show Wi-Fi usage and a new Wi-Fi tab appears along the top of the screen. Touch the tab to see the data breakdown for your Wi-Fi connectivity. I don’t really see a use for this since most Wi-Fi connectivity is free these days but it’s there if you want it.
On a side note, it was fun to see how much data I’ve consumed using Wi-Fi. Juxtaposed to the mobile data usage; there really wasn’t a comparison. Wi-Fi is king.
Displays all the hotspots you’ve connected to.
The Bottom Line
I think these data usage features are great. They are easy to find and give consumers excellent visibility into how much data they’ve used and which apps are predisposed to gluttony.
I like to use Google Earth but, out of all my apps, it demands the most data. So I can setup an alert that warns me when I’m reaching a predefined limit and then the Galaxy S4 automatically shuts my data down before my cellular provider starts charging me overtime.
I use use my Galaxy S4 as a mobile hotspot so I benefit from these data monitoring tools.