The BlackBerry Z10 is a fantastic device. Ever since I got it, I've been able to do so much more than with any previous BlackBerry device I've owned, and that's been the exact focus of the Keep Moving motto that BlackBerry is now employing. Unfortunately, the more you do on the Internet, the more data you are required to use, and I think I learned that lesson the hard way last night.
Before I get into it, it's important to address why this is even a big deal in the good ol' U.S. of A., like in so many other countries all over the globe.
Data usage has been and will continue to be a huge debate between carriers and customers. In the U.S., ever since carriers switched from tiered data plans to unlimited, and then backtracked to tiered plans again because so many people were using an insane amount of data, most smartphone users are worried about their data consumption on a monthly basis.
With the legacy BlackBerry OS, we didn't really ever have to worry about that because of how efficiently those BlackBerry devices and the software handled data. The old OS uses DataSmart technology, and that's helped a lot. To remove any confusion, DataSmart is pretty much the name they gave BlackBerry's BIS technology when it comes to compressing data.
The Inside BlackBerry Blog gave us some tips as to how this worked way back in 2011:
Well, the simplest way to think about it is to compare it to zipping large files on your computer. When you use data on a BlackBerry smartphone, itís almost as if the data is zipped up before itís sent or received, so itís smaller and uses up less of your data plan.
Yesterday, I decided to check out my data usage. I'm on AT&T and have four lines on my account. All are BlackBerry devices, and just one is a Z10, for now. I recently switched over to the 6GB Mobile Share data plan, from a 4GB, as I figured our collective data usage would increase once everyone got their Z10s this coming Friday.
As you can see in the graph above, according to AT&T, I used 0.6GB in the billing cycle that ended in January on my Bold 9900. The next month's billing cycle, that ends in March after I got my Z10, indicates I have used up 3.2GB. My data consumption has increased over 500% since I got my BlackBerry 10 device. Needless to say, I was a little surprised. What could I have done differently to not consume so much data on my mobile network?
Lack of WiFi usage
One of the data saving areas I have completely neglected to fully take advantage of is WiFi usage. Since the original Z10 OS didn't have the greatest battery life, I would turn off WiFi and keep it off for the most part of day to save some juice. When I got home, occasionally I would forget to turn it back on and just go about my marry way downloading and using my Z10 normally.
One should always use and connect to WiFi whenever possible. Smartphones nowadays, including BlackBerry 7 and 10 devices, will take the WiFi connection and use that one instead of the Mobile Network automatically if you're connected to both. This will be incredibly helpful and will save you a lot of data if you're at work or home and have WiFi available to you.
The Novelty Effect
Whenever we get something new, we tend to use it a lot more than we will eventually. A honeymoon effect, if you will. This has definitely been true with my Z10 over the last month and a half. I've been downloading everything and anything I've come across in BlackBerry World, and as pointed out above, not using WiFi as often as I should have, has come back to bite me in the butt.
We have more apps and games available to us now on BlackBerry 10 than ever before. Not only do we have more in terms of the sheer numbers, but also in terms of quality. The higher the quality of apps and games, the larger the file size we have to download through BlackBerry World. It's easy to find games and apps that are way over 50-100MB each. Thankfully, BlackBerry has put in some barriers to prevent us from downloading files that are way too big.
For example, N.O.V.A. 3 has a free version out right now in BlackBerry World. It's a stupidly big 1.7GB in size. If you try to download this game right now, and you're not connected to WiFi, you will get the above error message which explains that the file is too big to be downloaded over your network. You need to be on WiFi to download or update anything this big on your BlackBerry 10 device.
Network and Data Limits
By default, BlackBerry World will not allow you to download anything over 50MB in size without a WiFi connection. You can take that a step further and disable any download size from BlackBerry World without a WiFi connection.
To do this, simply swipe from the top in BlackBerry World to access Settings and check the Network and Data Limits menu.
Software Updates are only possible over WiFi
BlackBerry also restricts OTA (over the air) OS updates from being downloaded over the carrier network. For example, when AT&T dropped this new OS on us last week, I had to connect to WiFi to be able to download and install the 443MB update. Without these restrictions put in place by BlackBerry, I would've ended up using way more than I already did.
BlackBerry can only protect its users to a certain degree though. Apps and games update frequently, and if you're updating them over the mobile network, it could add up. For example, If you have 4 apps or games that you want to download or upgrade, and a few of them are less than 50MB in size, you could end up using hundred of MB without really noticing.
WiFi, WiFi, WiFi
Controlling data usage will continue to be an issue for everyone as long as carriers restrict how much data we can have a month. This whole article can pretty much be summed up with one sentence: Use WiFi whenever possible.
Thanks to the latest BlackBerry 10 OS updates, battery life isn't as much of a concern to me. I'm leaving WiFi on all the time and having it connect to my network at home as soon as I get close without me even noticing. Let's save some mobile network data and keep those costs down. Maybe we can save a pennies here and there for another day.