Concerned About Your Data Usage While Roaming, Try Onavo

It’s rare that we preview and throw our weight behind an app on TmoNews, as a carrier-specific blog I haven’t attempted to cover a lot of outside of T-Mobile’s purview. Sometimes an app comes along that’s worth bringing your attention to and given the recently leaked upcoming changes for T-Mobile’s domestic roaming policy, we bring you Onavo. Onavo is a Android/iOS application designed to help watch your data usage and control your data bill. Onavo works to put you in control of your 3G data plan “…using compression, simple reports and basic tools, Onavo helps smartphone users get the most out of their data plan, without complication or effort.”

As it turns out, Onavo did some research and discovered that T-Mobile’s new caps on domestic roaming will affect 1 in 5 subscribers, according to their own research. We should mention that T-Mobile’s numbers are much smaller than what Onavo discovered, like around 10k customers which is a far cry from 1 in 5. Moving on, Onavo highlights that the domestic roaming caps account for just 2-3% of your total data plan so imagine how fast you would work your way through that allotment if you found yourself in an area with poor T-Mobile coverage. Onavo’s free Android and iOS apps helps users stretch their data by showing you exactly what kind of data your apps are using. Along with that, Onavo has provided us with 5 tips for keeping on top of your data usage:

  1. Don’t shop on the go: the app store is for Wi-Fi and apps along with music downloads should be downloaded when you are on a Wi-Fi connection. In other words, don’t use up your data allotment downloading from the Android Market.
  2. Switch email to manual: “push” email allows for your device to constantly check for new emails and download them automatically. Changing your settings to “manual” and get emails only when you want them.
  3. Use mobile websites: a number of websites, including TmoNews have mobile addresses for use with smartphones. Instead of typing www before a url, try m.url instead.
  4. Compress your data: Apps like Onavo can compress your data by as much to 80% without impacting the way you use your phone. This can help you avoid hitting your data plan or roaming caps along with telling you how much data each app is using.
  5. Movies are made for Wi-Fi: save YouTube, Netflix and other movie sites for Wi-Fi. Really, you can hold off on watching the guy jumping into a poll from the roof while screaming the TMNT theme song until you are back on Wi-Fi.

Ok, so some of these are obvious and most of you are already very familiar with such tips so they aren’t going to come as any surprise. Onavo says that their 80% data compression claim overall equates to data savings in the 30-40% range. That’s huge. So yes, these tips aren’t anything new or shocking, but that’s the point, these are things we just do and don’t think about. A few tweaks here and there and perhaps you’ve got some extra data allowance available for the month. If you want to give it a try, Onavo is free in the Android market and has a 4.4 score out of 5 with 6,300 reviews. Also, they are super nice guys and that’s a big plus in my book. Hit the Android Market link below to check Onavo out:

Onavo (Android Market)

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  • Fixxmyhead

    this app is good. i only have it cuz i wanted to see how much data i use in a month. better than watchdog 3g cuz its simple (just a bar that says how much ive used) and doesnt have too much mumbo jumbo like watchdog

  • http://benpike.net/ Ben Pike

    3G Watchdog Pro does the same thing, but it has a lot more options/bells/whistles and no compression (which isn’t available on Android yet).

    • JMB98115

      I found 3G Watchdog to under-report my usage by slightly more than 10% (compared to usage reported by T-Mobile), and Onavo by less than 5%. Compared for 2 months, and my usage is slightly under 5GB/mo.

      Sticking with Onavo for accuracy.

  • buycat

    I really don’t understand how anyone can go over the cap unless you’re tethering or streaming videos/music all day.  I’ve never gone over 1GB and I use twitter, facebook, email pictures and browse the web regularly. I’m also in a 4G area using the Amaze. How much data do you guys normally use?

    • buycat

      Sorry. Just realized the article was talking about roaming data.

    • JMB98115

      I ditched home broadband a few years ago, am voluntarily unemployed (retired), and seldom use public wifi, and almost hit 5GB monthly without any streaming or, file downloads, or more than 10 minutes of YouTube.

  • http://twitter.com/Lawless_1 Lawless_1

    This app makes my browser force close every time.

  • Joel

    Unfortunately this app only works for iPhone users on AT&T in the US. Hopefully they decide to allow the iOS app for all networks that have the iPhone and for Tmobile also.

  • Cielomoreno127

    Been using this app for over a month. Doesn’t work properly, forces close and monitored usages is never correct. I had forgot it was on my phone until a couple days ago.It popped up and said usage was 1.3gb when in fact it was 3.5gb,

  • JQuest

    This app is pretty accurate and awesome… it’s better than T-Mobile’s,”My Account” app which at times have problems pulling up my usage info.

    On a side note David, it appears you finally got the info you wanted out the people you polled on Facebook. Man trading though those comments were frustrating. Heh. Anyways, great and informative post. Keep up the good work, my man!

  • Anonymous

    The built in ICS data monitor is by far the best thing ever when it comes to monitoring data. You can set thresholds for certain apps and even stop a certain app from accessing the web. You can even set warnings and cut data off completely…. not that you will get overages on tmo, so that feature doesnt really matter

  • WillieFDiaz

    Used this app in the past and found it intrusive and alerts every app as a data hog if you go over a few MBs. Really an annoying app.

  • Lupon

    I’ve been using My Data Manager (free) for quite a few months now and it’s been pretty accurate. Been using that in conjunction with DroidWall (root), which blocks data access to apps I specify.

  • Frigadroid

    I just bust the 5gb cap every month around the last few days of the billing cycle. I was worse but turned off the push email and background data, eliminated some rouge apps and duh use wifi when its available. The 1 in 5 number is more realistic from my 13 years of personal traveling experience with tmobile service.
    It is what it is tmobile is last in satisfied customers and over all because people take offense to being charged the same for less, especially when they thought they had a contract that would be honored by tmobile, since they have honored their side of the contract as a consumer by paying on time in full each month.
    Just look at all the cut backs since the vibrant debut. I think I have every right to be pissed. First they cut my data in half and now they want to cut off roaming data after a few bytes. Tmobile please get real. We should head up to seattle with our pitch forks and torches & raise a stink like the verizon customers recently did. Enough is enough all ready.

  • anonymous

    all carries have similar data roaming agreements, Ever since T-mobile released the news about acquiring  spectrum (3G roaming agreements) with at&t, T-mobile decided to launch the new data roaming agreements, due to at&t’s jammed network they can’t afford to provide unlimited data to its own customer’s then they for sure won’t risk it by allowing T-mobile customers to take advantage of their unlimited data usage under their network, in other words these data caps are for controlling the data traffic flow in the network and avoiding service interruptions for other customers due to data hogs, once LTE kicks in and advances maybe wireless carriers will be able to increase user capacity per cell tower making the network less jam packed and improve data services like they were pre smart phone / iPhone revolution. 

  • EXIBITman

    Works great on my brandnew Exibit 2.

  • Anonymous

    I found from the App that even when my packet data and roaming are not on, and the phone is only on Wi-Fi, Android OS still used some data without my permission. Unlike BB I can force my SGS2 not to use data from the tower. I am afraid of being hit on roaming data when I am overseas. Anyone who went overseas knows how this works on roaming?