Sign in with Microsoft

This is actually a very important setting if you’re using an ultra-budget calls-only SIM in your phone. These SIMs don’t include a data allowance, but they’re still capable of giving a smartphone access to the net. And on some networks, you’ll be charged a stratospheric $2 a megabyte. That will teach you for not signing up to a 24 month contract!

Dumbing down your smartphone by turning off data capabilities is the sure-fire way to avoid excess data fees.

8. Use a different browser

This is a little bit technical. The default web browser included with the major smartphones is, in most respects, the same as the browser on your computer. Your phone will request a web page from a server. If there’s a mobile version of that site, you’ll get that, but otherwise you’ll get all the data you’d receive on a full-size PC.

This is wasteful, because your phone actually compresses the page down to fit on the display (more modern phones with computer-like screen resolutions do this to a lesser extent). What would be better is a browser that does all the compression before pulling the data down over the mobile network.

There are third-party browsers – such a Opera – available for both iOS and Android that compress sites. Unfortunately, basic text-and-image websites don’t account for that much of your data usage, so the savings here are modest at best. But hey, they’re also free!

Some browsers compress websites before they download, to deliver modest data savings.

7. Chunk-check your email

Depending on your email system – be it Gmail, Hotmail, or an Exchange Server through work – your phone might be constantly querying the server to see if any new mail has arrived. Similarly, the server will ‘push’ new mail to your phone the instant it arrives.

Emails generally don’t use much data, and most phones have a default setting that doesn’t download large attachments over 3G or 4G networks, but a constant stream of mail can nibble away at that data allowance.

The phone’s various email settings will allow you to set longer intervals between email checks. But an even better setting is to only accept manual email updates. So when it occurs to you to check your mail, you tap a Send/Receive” button.

Not only does this cut down on background data-drain, it also stops you compulsively checking your phone every 45 seconds for mail notifications… doesn’t it?

6. Know your free site rights!

The latest marketing trick to convince you to switch mobile networks is the offer of various sites and online services that don’t count toward your data allowance. The most obvious of these are social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

It seems straightforward: any browsing or updating you do to Facebook or Twitter doesn’t count as a download or upload. End of story.

Well, not quite. There’s a trap. In the case of Facebook, your basic Newsfeed and the browsing of profile pages is free, but third-party apps such as games or other novelties – where additional data has to come from another server not controlled by Facebook – count as normal websites.

So stalking your ex-partners via mobile Facebook: free. Playing Farmville: not free.

5. Turn off location services

It’s great that your phone has GPS. So many interesting ways to use it! Quick, parking cops are about – alert everyone in a 5km radius! The downside to all this, apart from the GPS receiver chewing on your battery, is that most smartphone GPS functionality is heavily dependent on a net connection.