Pokémon Go is a really fun game, and part of what makes it so interesting is the fact that you need to go outside and move around to play it effectively. That of course means you'll be out of the range of your home Wi-Fi network, using up mobile data as you walk around. Some "tricks" like downloading offline maps in Google Maps won't actually save you any data usage (though it's a great feature for Maps!), and unfortunately the Pokémon Go app itself can't really limit data usage much.
But if you're looking to cut down on the amount of data you're using overall when out-and-about playing Pokémon Go, we're here to help!
How much data Pokémon Go is using
Due to the free-roaming nature of the game and everything you can do with it, it's hard to put a specific number on the amount of data Pokémon Go is going to use when you play. How often you're hitting PokéStops, going to gyms and battling will make a difference in your data usage. Walking around for about an hour actively playing Pokémon Go, we saw less than 20MB of mobile data usage, which is really small in the grand scheme of the several gigabytes of data you likely use each month.
That being said, it's important to simply know that Pokémon Go is actively using data as you're out of the house, because it has to continually update to make the game work. That being said, let's reduce the amount of data you're using while you're playing!
Tips for saving data when playing Pokémon Go
Though the Pokémon Go app isn't really using all that much data, there are a few things you can keep in mind to both potentially reduce the app's data usage and also cut down on your overall data usage when you're out playing.
Keep your Wi-Fi on
This one's pretty basic, but is worth remembering if you're in a city with lots of open Wi-Fi access points: leave your Wi-Fi on and hop on open networks to save some data while you're out. If you're going to be stationary for a few minutes, there's little reason not to hop on that nearby Starbucks or McDonald's free Wi-Fi. It'll take a minute, but you'll save a few megabytes in the process.
The one potential issue here is how joining and leaving all of these Wi-Fi networks may affect the game's understanding of your location, but again that may be worth it if you're being super cautious about your mobile data usage.
Restrict background app data
Though there isn't really any indication that Pokémon Go is using copious amounts of data when you're not actively using it, Android phones allow you to forcibly restrict mobile data usage when the app isn't actively in use on your screen. You'll want to head into your phone's settings, look for the application or apps settings, scroll down and tap Pokémon Go, tap data usage and then restrict background data.
The settings and wording may differ slightly by phone, but by doing this Pokémon Go will only use mobile data while it's open.
Cut back on mobile data usage in other apps
Pokémon Go isn't going to use that much data on its own, but you will likely use a bunch more through various other apps while you're outside playing the game. If you're streaming music or podcasts while out playing, consider choosing an app that will let you download that data ahead of time instead of streaming it on mobile data. You should also double check that you don't have auto-updating apps turned on in the Play Store, and social media apps aren't pre-loading videos and images while on mobile data.
The more data you save in other apps, the more you have to play Pokémon Go with!
Be a T-Mobile subscriber
If you're a Pokémon Go player on T-Mobile, this game doesn't have to cost you any data at all! Here's what you need to do for free Pokémon Go on your phone:
- Open the T-Mobile Tuesday App
- Tap Unleash Pokemon Go
- Tap Redeem
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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.