With video streaming platforms such as YouTube, Netflix and more recently, Disney+, now the essentials for keeping smartphone users entertained on the go, keeping an eye on your data usage is more important than ever.
Research has found that more than two thirds (68%) of the UK population use their mobile phones to watch video content, but with a typical 5GB data plan only allowing for 6.5 hours of 1080p video streaming, data can quickly trickle away.
To help the nation keep track of how much data is being used with video streaming, online smartphone retailer, e2save, has put together some simple tips for reducing data usage on some of the most popular video apps.
With 12.4 million subscribers in the UK, Netflix is one of the leading video streaming services. Watching TV shows or films in the Netflix app uses around 1GB of data per hour when watching a standard definition stream, or if in HD, around 3GB of data an hour.
One simple trick to reduce data usage with this app is to access Netflix on a web browser first. Once signed in, go to Account and select a profile from Profile & Parental Controls. From there, select Change for Playback settings > select the desired data usage settings and save changes. Any changes made usually take effect in the app within eight hours.
There are a number of ways to save on data when streaming videos through YouTube. The platform allows a user to change the playback quality when streaming videos online, however, some videos can automatically begin to play in a higher quality stream.
The app enables a user to reduce the amount of data used when streaming videos using mobile data, so it only streams videos in HD when connected to Wi-Fi. To do so, open the YouTube app, go to Options > Settings > General and enable Limit mobile data.
For YouTube Red subscribers, videos can be downloaded and watched offline, saving mobile data in doing so. To enable, select the video intended for downloading, tap Download and select preferred video quality and the video will begin to download.
Another trick for saving data through the YouTube app is to disable muted playback. The muted playback feature means videos automatically begin playing with captions when a user is scrolling through the home page. To disable this feature, tap on account image > Settings > General > Muted playback in feeds > Select ‘off’ to disable this feature.
Since its UK launch in March this year, Disney+ has been downloaded by users young and old. However, for those who are data conscious, Disney enables users to reduce data usage directly in the app.
To do so, open the Disney+ app, go to Select profile > App settings > Mobile data usage > Data Saver/Wi-Fi only.
For those who want to avoid data usage completely, Disney+ allows users to download films and TV shows for offline viewing, which is great for saving data whilst out and about.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video offers four streaming qualities, ranging from ‘Best’, which uses around 6.84GB of data per hour and ‘Data Saver’, which uses 0.06GB of data per hour.
The ‘Data Saver’ option is best suited for users who want to use as little data as possible, but still want to enjoy their favourite TV shows and films on Amazon Prime Video. To change the streaming quality, log in to an Amazon Prime account, go to Menu > Settings > Stream & Download > Streaming Quality and select the preferred streaming quality.
How to use in-built smartphone features to reduce data usage
As well as adjusting the streaming quality in apps, smartphones come with built-in features that allow users to monitor data usage and track how much of their allowance they have left.
Android has a feature that provides a warning when a set amount of data has been used and will automatically turn off mobile data when the limit has been reached.
To activate this feature, go to Settings and under Wireless & Networks, tap on Data Usage or Mobile Data. On a Samsung Galaxy handset, go to Settings > Connections to find Data Usage. From there, go to Billing Cycle and Data Warning > tap the switch next to Set Data Warning > select Data Warning and select the preferred data amount to set for the alert.
Users on iOS don’t have a similar option with iPhones, as Apple doesn’t provide data warnings through push notifications. To check data usage on an iPhone, go to Settings > Mobile Data.
Whilst a device can be fairly accurate, it’s recommended that a user regularly check their data allowance through their network provider for accurate and up-to-date data usage reading.
Karl Middleton, a mobile expert at e2save, says: “Video streaming services, such as Netflix and Disney+, are really popular for keeping us entertained whilst we’re out and about, but they can drain our data allowance quickly if we’re not careful.
“Many video streaming providers offer ways that users can reduce data consumption, so they can still enjoy watching their favourite films, TV programmes and music videos on the go, without eating all of their data.
“We always recommend, as well as trying some of the tips above, that people check with their network provider for current data usage information.”
For more information about e2save, please visit www.e2save.com.