Android vs iOS

Android vs iOSWe all long for the day that we won’t be crying foul over our data mysteriously disappearing. Technically speaking, there’s no way that your data can just mysteriously disappear and for this reason, we’ve set out to help you understand how your smartphone works with the hope that this will help you understand what has been draining your data.

Smartphones are data hogs and this is because of their [smartphones] constant need to connect to the internet to keep up to date with updates and notifications, whether we’re using them or not. Ready to understand how your smartphone works? Let the class begin:

Foreground and Background data

Foreground data is user-driven consumption of your data. Whenever you actively use an app, say Twitter, you are consuming your data. We usually have no problem with this, since often, we are aware of what we are doing. To use less foreground data, we must discipline ourselves not to browse too much, snap/gram too much or tweet too much, but that’s a hard task and you know it.

Despite having data saving options within all our social media apps (disabling automatic image download, disabling automatic video playing, such and such), we will still find some unexplained data drain. Well, that’s where background data comes to play.

Background data is when your phone is sneakily fetching data while you’re not using it. This happens to ensure that you have a seamless experience with these apps, however this comes at the cost of your data.

How to disable background data:

Android users: For those on Android Nougat, simply enable data saver by going to Settings -> Data usage -> Menu (three dots on the left) -> Data Saver. This will restrict all apps from accessing background data.

Those on Marshmallow and below go to Settings -> Data Usage -> Background Data.

You can select the apps that you want to have background data access, just to be safe with not missing important notifications like emails, but ensure you uncheck Google Play Services that sneakily enables itself and is notorious for draining data. However, note that disabling background data for Google Play Services means that you cannot access Google Play Store while on Mobile data.

iOS users: To turn off background data on iOS you go to Settings -> General -> Background App Refresh and switch it off. If you wish to switch off background data for specific apps only, then leave the main toggle on and switch off the apps you want to restrict from the list.

Please note that disabling background data will save you some data but you might miss notifications and generally you will have a limited experience. The choice is yours, you can’t have it both ways.

Automatic Updates and User Experience Programs

Automatic updates are always enabled for both Google Play Store and Apple App Store. To disable this on Android, go to Play Store -> Settings -> Auto-Update apps and select “Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only”.

To disable auto-updates on iOS go to Settings -> iTunes and App Store -> Use Cellular Data and toggle this option off.

Both Android and iOS will kindly ask their users to send usage statistics and diagnostics information. This option comes turned on by default and almost no one ever bother to turn it off.

On the up side, you will be anonymously sending information to your respective device manufacturer and using these stats they are able to offer software updates and improve the next device.

On the down side, sending these stats uses up your precious data. Disabling this option is as easy as flicking a switch.

Android users: Unfortunately for Android users, you are going to have to disable this option in another part of your settings, due to Google and your device manufacturer both collecting the usage information from you.  To disable this setting for your manufacturer, go to: Settings -> Advanced -> user experience program and disable it.

To disable it for Google: Settings -> Google -> Menu (three dots on the left) -> Usage & Diagnostics and turn it off.

Please note that these settings only apply from Android Marshmallow and above.

iOS users:

iOS 10.3 and above – Settings -> Privacy -> Analytics

iOS 8 and above – Settings -> Privacy -> Diagnostics and Usage

With iOS you have more control of the kind of information you send to Apple and it even gives you an option to share app usage with developers all of which we recommend turning off for the sake of your data.

4G Network

Everyone is getting excited about having a 4G enabled device and Safaricom’s 4G network is expanding its reach by the day. Safaricom markets its 4G network with the tagline “Speed is Good” but have you ever stopped to think what implications “speed” has on your data?

Well, welcome to our last lesson of the day. Just like a 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX can hit 0 to 100 km/h in about 5 seconds and consume a lot of fuel while at it, 4G works the same way.

Your Instagram will load faster, YouTube videos will not buffer and the video quality will default to 720p or higher [depending on the resolution of your display] but keep in mind that the faster the connection, the higher the quality of images and videos you will get and as a result the more data bundle you will consume.

Now that you understand how your smartphone works, you should also consider choosing the right data plan that fits your lifestyle.


  1. Safcom are actually thieves. My data manager always indicate lower usage than the used up safcom bundles. Recently I used up 100mb on listeverse in 5 mins reading articles (my data manager indicated 15mb usage). My playstore is set to upgrade on WiFi, no background apps, I have greenify and a couple of xposed modules to warn me of background apps that I don’t want running.

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