Saving Money with Smartphone Internet Use

Today, I want us to discuss various ways of saving money with smartphone internet use.

Mobile phones have not just increased their technological prowess and abilities in recent years as they have also increased in price. Although phone contracts have always been costly, and in many ways there are now much cheaper options available, there are also many more ways that you can run up large bills when using a phone.

Several years back all you really needed to worry about was how much time you spent talking and perhaps how many SMS messages you sent. But now with smartphones increasingly becoming the most common means of accessing the internet they have opened up a whole new world of costs to look out for.

For starters, while most modern smartphones will come with some form of internet connectivity, most often through 3G or Wi-Fi, the phone or iPhone contract you use will not necessarily come with any internet support. This does not matter when using a Wi-Fi connection, as this is free to connect to with any phone, but when using 3G services you may be charged.

Where 3G is available the network/carrier will often provide some form of data allowance for using the connection. And here is one of the main problems. It is easy to keep track of how many minutes you spend talking or how many messages you send, but keeping track of your internet usage is not so easy when it is measured in megabytes rather than time.

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You may be provided with 100MB of data allowance, but is this enough? Is it too much? How does 100MB translate into everyday usage? When using the internet at home or at work we are not typically aware of how much data is being transferred in the process, and so measuring an allowance in this way can be confusing for many people, particularly people taking out their first phone contract.

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If you don’t pick enough data allowance then you may end up paying some steep additional fees each month. Pick too much and you may be unnecessarily paying too much for your contract, when you could save money by picking a cheaper contract with less data allowance.

While there are some tools available online to help you determine how much data allowance you may need there are also some other points worth considering. Firstly, many smartphones such as the iPhone, BlackBerry’s and those running Android now come with app stores, where you can download and install your own apps to customize your phone. In some instances these apps may have access to the internet, and may be sending and receiving data that you are not aware of.

These may be only small nuggets of data, but over time this small trickle can develop into a significant proportion of your monthly data allowance. Such apps that may do this could include things like the Android Facebook wallpaper widget that will constantly be updating itself with new status updates from your online friends. One way to avoid apps and widgets such as these eating away at your data allowance is to turn off 3G support when not in use, and simply rely on Wi-Fi connections where available.

So if you are able to connect to a Wi-Fi connection, either at home, work or via an open hotspot in public, then this should always be preferred to using your 3G data allowance. As well as saving you money in the long run Wi-Fi connections will offer much faster connection speeds than 3G is able to, and so is a better option for connecting from your phone anyway. New 4G connections should go some way to improving mobile connection speeds when Wi-Fi is not available, but much of the advice regarding 3G still applies to 4th Generation connections.