The mistake slowing down your connection and killing your phone

It’s a cozy evening, and you just started streaming your favorite show. But, as the plot thickens, your Wi-Fi takes an unexpected hiatus. Annoying, right?

Before you unplug your router, look at your smartphone. The culprit could be apps chowing down on precious bandwidth.

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What’s the big deal?

You’ve probably seen notifications you’re using too much data. Besides getting charged more, why does it really matter? Glad you asked.

  • Wi-Fi performance: Data hogs slow you down big time. Identifying and monitoring bandwidth-hungry apps on your iPhone or Android will improve your Wi-Fi speeds and reduce latency.
  • Limited plans: Not everyone has unlimited data. Keeping an eye on which apps are using your Wi-Fi could save you from surprise fees.
  • Not enough to go around: Smart home devices (think cameras or voice assistants) rely on a stable Wi-Fi connection. Managing bandwidth-intensive apps helps them run more smoothly, too. The more devices you have and rely on day to day, the more this matters.
  • Battery life: High-bandwidth apps can drain your Android or iPhone’s battery quickly. Catching them sooner might even extend your phone’s lifespan over the long run.

Teens in circle holding smart mobile phones. (iStock)

How to check 

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of how to detect those sneaky Wi-Fi bandits on your Android or iPhone.

For Android

  • Open the Settings app > Connections.
  • Tap Data usage followed by Wi-Fi data usage.

As I’m constantly reminded, steps vary depending on your phone. If that doesn’t work, search your settings for Wi-Fi or Data.

You’ll see each app and how much bandwidth it’s used over the last month. Android lets you go up to four months back for an even more detailed overview. Select the dates at the top of the screen, and voila!


For iPhone

While iOS doesn’t have a built-in feature to track Wi-Fi usage, there’s a workaround. You can monitor your mobile data usage for a glance as to which apps are most bandwidth-intensive.

  • Open the Settings app > Cellular.
  • Scroll down to view the apps.

You may not use heavier social networking apps or entertainment platforms while on your mobile data, so these might be hidden further below. Spotify, YouTube and Netflix are some of the main culprits!

What to do about it

Messenger and Facebook app logos are displayed on a mobile phone

Messenger and Facebook app logos are displayed on a mobile phone screen. ((Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images))

Of course, you know to close the hungriest apps if they’re not in use and eating up too much bandwidth. There’s more you can do, too:

  • Content settings: Most apps have an internal setting that allows you to control the content you see. Turning down the resolution, disabling auto-play or changing the output to standard-quality images can lighten the load.
  • Auto downloads: Email and social media apps usually auto-download files when connected to the internet. You can turn this off.
  • Find alternatives: Some apps have an alternative data-efficient version, like Facebook Lite for Android. Sorry, Apple fans, but this one’s unavailable for you yet.

While you’re at it, do an app audit

Scroll through your apps and note which ones you rarely use or don’t use. Do you have two or three apps that perform the same function? How about the one you downloaded for a free trial membership years ago?

Your iPhone can help if you’re not sure where to start. To get a detailed view of your app activity and what you use most, go to Settings > Screen Time and select See All Activity

If you’re on an Android, tap Settings > Digital Wellbeing & parental controls > Dashboard to view screen times for each app. 

My advice: Trim the fat. Your devices work better when they run lean.

A mobile phone passcode security screen

A mobile phone passcode security screen is seen in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on 31 Poland, 2022.  ((Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images))

Keep your tech-know going 

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.

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Plus, Dr. Ben Goertzel from Prophets of AI created Sophia, the world’s most famous robot. He tells us more about artificial general intelligence — the AI that thinks like humans do. There’s more: GM says goodbye to Apple CarPlay and surveillance tech to stop drunk drivers. 

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

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