Want to Save Mobile Data While Video Streaming? Try These 5 Hacks

Can you imagine what life was like before the smartphone came to be? Probably not. After all, it is considered the world’s “most important consumer invention” in the 21st century.

Besides offering access to crucial information during emergencies, smartphones provide convenience like no other. They can also serve as a portable entertainment device by bringing together newspapers, radio, television, and computers in a thin, rectangular handheld box, with the help of affordable mobile data bundles.

According to Cisco, videos comprise 82 percent of all mobile web traffic in 2020. But spending too much time watching videos on your phone may cost a fortune if you’re not careful.

Lucky for you, you can save your mobile data even as you enjoy all the perks of video streaming. Here’s how:

1.   Stream on Wi-Fi

If you’re not keen on using up all your mobile data watching videos, you can simply avoid doing so. You can opt to watch your favorite films, TV shows, online courses, and even YouTube tutorials while connected to the Wi-Fi.

After all, there’s no better way to save your 4G data than by not using it too much.

2.   Reduce Video Quality

The default setting for most streaming platforms is to stream at the best possible quality that your Internet connection can provide. When you have a fast and reliable mobile connection, you can stream a full HD viral video with no problems.

The only downside here is that HD videos eat up a lot of data and can easily clean out your mobile data cap in a very short time.

This is why you should remember to manually lower the quality of the video you’re watching to avoid wasting precious data.

Several apps offer users this much liberty in their viewing.

For YouTube, you can do this via the three-dot menu that appears on the window. Tap on that and choose Quality. This will bring out video quality options – ranging from 144 to 1080 pixels – that you can choose from.

For Netflix, simply log in and choose Settings on your profile. Then, choose from the available settings:

  • Low – takes up about 0.3GB per hour
  • Medium – 0.7GB per hour
  • High – 3GB per hour

Remember to pick a quality that’s a good balance between the kind of content you’re streaming and visual sharpness. Let’s say you’re watching someone talking (a talking-head video) played in portrait mode. In this case, you can just knock it down to the lowest video setting since there’s no useful visual being presented.

3.   Restrict HD Video Streaming

Besides reducing the video quality of YouTube videos while watching them, you also have the option to restrict high-definition video streaming on all clips on the platform. Here’s how you can do it:

  • On the YouTube app on your mobile device, head to your profile icon at the upper right corner of the Home page, and open the Settings.
  • Then, flip the switch on the “Play HD on Wi-Fi only” feature.

While you’re in the Settings, you can also choose to turn off “Autoplay next video” in case you left your phone playing while unattended (yes, it happens).

Restricting high-definition streaming straight on the app means you won’t have to be vigilant all the time about managing the video quality while you’re using the YouTube app. This will allow you to sit back and watch without worrying about your data cap.

4.   Download Videos on Wi-Fi

Besides streaming while connected to wireless Internet, you can also choose to download videos while you’re connected to your office or home Wi-Fi. Not only will this allow you to watch them on-demand, but it would also help you save a ton of your mobile data.

Just remember to clear out some space on your iPhone or Android device to make sure there’s room for the video. You can also save it on a separate memory card or flash drive (many are now made compatible with micro-USB or USB Type-C, so there’s no need to buy an adapter).

Take note: Downloading YouTube videos may not be possible everywhere. If you’re somewhere YouTube doesn’t offer this for free, you still have the option to subscribe to YouTube Premium for a fee.

5.   Limit Data Usage on Your Phone

Besides setting data limits on the apps, you can also do this for your entire phone. This could help prevent data usage from videos played on browsers and non-video streaming platforms.

For Android, you have the option to turn on the “Alert me about data usage” located in the data usage option. This will allow you to monitor data usage, especially after it goes over the data limit you have set.

Bonus Tip: Use Data Savings Apps

Tweaked everything you can in your phone and the video streaming apps you have, but still need to save more data? Try using data savings apps, like Opera Max. This can help minimize the data used for media and everything else.

Using these apps can save as much as 60 percent of data usage and will even help you keep track of the megabytes used for each session (and help you adjust your routines, if necessary).

Worry-Free Streaming

Watching blockbuster movies and watching favorite shows online is most enjoyable if you’re not worried about your mobile data cap. Try the hacks listed in this article and enjoy worry-free streaming.


Altaf Ladak is the Deputy CEO at Roshan (Telecom Development Company Afghanistan), Afghanistan’s leading total communications provider, which covers all 34 provinces with over 6.5 million active subscribers and has a deep commitment to the country’s reconstruction and development. Roshan is a true Afghanistan success story, actively contributing to the country’s long-term development with more than $750 million invested in Afghanistan.