Data usage on Android

Here's how to set a limit to the amount of data your Android phone or tablet can use each month. This could save you money! (See all of our Android tutorials.)

An Android smartphone or tablet is a great way to access the web and web-enabled services on the move. But such apps and websites can drain your mobile data usage, leaving you with a hefty bill at the end of the month. Here we show you how to set monthly limits for mobile data use, so you get a warning when you are nearing your limit, and cut off cellular data if you are about to cost yourself money. Wi-fi connectivity is unaffected, and you can always adjust or override the limits you set.

Here's how to set a data usage limit on Android smartphone or tablet.

Set data limit on Android

Touch the Settings icon on your homescreen or apps screen, and then select 'Wireless & networks'. Choose 'Data usage'. Toward the top of the screen you'll find the on-off switch for 'Mobile data'. In order to use mobile data this needs to be switched to 'On' (ie: if it is off you won't be using any cellular data).

Android settings

Touch the 'Data usage cycle' drop down. This allows you to choose the date range within which you will measure data use. Set it to the same cycle as you mobile phone or tablet SIM-billing cycle by dragging the white lines to the correct dates.

First we'll set a data usage warning limit: simply drag the orange line by its right side to the level where you want to receive a warning. Now when your data usage reaches this level between the dates you have set you'll receive a notification and can cut down on your data usage.

Mobile data use on Android Now to set an absolute data usage limit beyond which your phone just won't use mobile data for the rest of the time period you set (you can override this).

Enable the 'Set mobile data limit' checkbox. A dialog pops up with further information about setting a mobile data limit.

Click 'Okay' and the red line at the top of the graph becomes active. Drag that line by its right side to set the limit - set a conservative limit: your mobile operator's judgement of how much data you have used may differ from what your phone or tablet records. You don't want to have to shell out because your operator thinks you have used more data than does your phone.

When your data usage reaches the limit you have set, you'll receive a further notification and mobile data will be turned off. Outside of Wi-Fi lots of features will no longer work, but you will at least be spared the pain of a surprisingly large bill at the end of the month.