They keep us connected in a myriad of ways. They provide us with hours of entertainment. In some cases, they control our homes and keep us fit. It seems like there is very little a smartphone can’t do, including saving you money!
The price of convenience can be very high. Call charges. Data overages. Feature-rich contracts. They all come at a cost. But that cost is manageable by taking a few simple steps to tame your smartphone bill.
Step 1: Chose the Right PlanBundled minutes and data. Free weekends and nights. CUGs (Closed User Groups) and other options are only good if they apply to you. Scrutinise your bill regularly and update your plan periodically as your usage habits change.
There is no point in paying for features that you don’t use or underutilise. Compare your plan to other plans offered by your telecom or to plans offered by other telecoms. After all, thanks to number portability no one is trapped by a service provider.
Step 2: Consider AlternativesIs it a smartphone, right? So, it’s connected. Some of us have already moved away from traditional cellular calls (you can go ahead and laugh if you remember life before cellular), while others are still waiting to hop on the VOIP (voice over internet protocol) bandwagon.
But VOIP, video conferencing and messaging are all great alternatives to phone calls. There is a plethora of apps that offer some, or all, of these options in one neat package. Most notably is WhatsApp. This nearly ubiquitous app offers text messaging, file sharing, voice calling and video calling on an encrypted platform for free. Only data charges apply if no Wi-Fi.
Concerns about call quality are diminishing fast as the technology evolves.
Step 3: Tame Data UseSo, sure. I just said VOIP is a great option, but care is still needed in data management.
Generally, VOIP options don’t consume that much data, but every bit and byte can add up. Especially if you’re not managing your data use correctly.
You should disable background refresh on most (if not all) apps, delete unnecessary apps and close apps that you’re not using. Apps can really drain your data and rack up expenses quickly and overages cost real money.
The trade off to save money by cutting data use in favour of Wi-Fi is not absolute, especially when dealing with sensitive data. Don’t jump onto any old hotspot just because it's free. Make sure it's safe before your browse; especially when visiting banking and email sites.
Step 4: Plan You RoamIf you thought your smartphone bill was high, try taking it on a trip overseas!
Roaming charges can put you in the poorhouse. Make sure that you have the right roaming plan. That’s a plan customised to the region you are visiting and your call, text and data needs.
Are you planning a long trip or a short trip? Going on vacay or on business? Is there reliable Wi-Fi in the hotel and other destinations on your itinerary? Do you need access to your VPN? Your answers to these questions will help determine if you can find a cost-effective plan or if you need to get a local SIM.
Step 5: Don’t Roam OverboardIn principle, data is cheaper than calling. That principle does not necessarily apply.
Before you head out to the airport, turn off data roaming for all non-essential apps to reduce the temptation to “just check” (this tip helps with my Amazon addiction) and consider if you must post to Instagram (or similar social media apps) in real time or if posting from the free hotel lobby Wi-Fi in the evening is just as good.
Save even more money: download maps for the destination and enjoy free access to GPS navigation for your trip.
Step 6: Ditch VoicemailSeriously? You still have voicemail? That’s so 90’s. Get rid of it. There is no need to pay for calls you are not even receiving; especially when roaming.
Vigilance is the key to enjoying both the convenience and the cost of owning a smartphone.