How to disable Mobile Data on an App level

Hey everybody,

I bought this year a Fairphone 4 5G coming from an iPhone 7. And I’ve not found a feature, therefore I’m asking you if you know where I find it.
How can I disable Mobile Data on an app-level? Let’s say we have a specific app X: If I’m not on a Wifi network, the System should not allow X to access the internet. How can I achieve that?

Thank you all for your lovely answers in advance.

default OS doesn’t let you do that, you’d have to install a custom ROM for that (like LineageOS, CalyxOS or /e/).

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Hi and welcome to the forum.

Out of curiosity and to provoke my ‘research’ can you provide an example of an app you want denied access to mobile data. and possibly why you think it has and why you don’t want it.

Thanks

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Hi together,

That results in a new installation of the OS, and thus losing all data, right? (–> Need to backup and restore)

Hi and thank you

To start: I’m one of those guys, which still have limited data and there are two cases, which I want to prevent:

  1. My music streaming service (Deezer) sometimes starts streaming(part is a user error and another part is, in my opinion, an unintuitive working of the app) and that sucks up fast my data. (I need to enable offline mode, but that does also have an effect on the Wifi. But there I don’t care)
  2. Sometimes I leave the WiFi which I don’t realize and then every app (such as Instagram) just uses cellular data. But those apps shouldn’t do that. (I talk about the unimportant apps)
  3. Why I think it has: Instagram needs internet to work. But I don’t want it to work. Deezer only sometimes needs internet. I think we talk about user experience.
  4. Maybe I just should update my contract to get an unlimited plan, but yeah…
    Does that answer your questions @amoun ?
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I suggest you have a look at NetGuard. It does that, and much more.

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I have only 2Gb of data and it is usually disabled via the pull down menu, when I want to use it, as I may not have access to Wi-Fi, I enable it temporarily. So when I’m using Wi-Fi all data comes over that.

Looking at NetGuard, that looks ideal

Here’s a link to the GitHub download if you don’t use Google

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Another option would be “Tracker Control”

Besides being able to block most trackers, you can activate and deactivate the internet connection for each app (but it doesn´t distinguish between mobile internet and wireless LAN).

It doesn´t need root privilegues, so it might be working on stock ROM, too. I´m only using it with /e/, though.

By the way:
In most apps you can disable the “Essential” trackers, too without getting problems with the apps. But this is case to case. I just don´t use any apps, which don´t work if I disable all trackers.

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Here are the various methods to restrict data usage on Android.

Android’s Built-In Option to Restrict Background Data
Set a Data Warning and Usage Limit
A Third-Party Option to Restrict Data Usage on Android

Regards,
Rachel Gomez

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Thank you all for your answers!

@amoun @rpnid I will have to take a look at NetGuard. I was already taking a short look at it, but I was thinking even a local VPN may use much battery with what I wasn’t happy. But I will try it out in more depth.

@Freigeist Thank you for your information, I will have to take a look at it. (Especially the other options it provides. I’m still getting used to Android and its ecosystem

@rachel_gomez Thank you for your summary, (Which was unfortunately what I expected)

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Indeed, set a cap with data limit and when needed, use data saver. Then apps only use data when you open them in the foreground. You can set unrestrictive apps for e.g. messengers.

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An additional benefit of using an anti-tracker app is saving traffic.
All normally installed apps together will use quite some traffic to spy on you and to send you advertisements.
Android is using up several MB for Google tracking alone (Apple is only a tad better in this regard).

Yeah, that helps in all the apps, will add it on my todolist. What I’ve done in the browser is disable JavaScript (To get only the “relevant” information. I don’t care about stock pictures in newspapers)

Well they must be rubbish as in decades I’ve never received one, but do get the occasional email from Fairphone :cry: So much for the GDPR and the requirement opt in ???

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@amoun

I didn´t mean the Emails you might get.
I meant the advertisements in many apps from Google Playstore. With apps from F-Droid we don´t have problems with advertisements, though. But not all people are able to stay clear of Google Playstore apps.

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I can recommend “firewall without root” by grey shirts. Unfortunately it is not open source. But, besides that, is has proven to be the best usability vs security compromise for me and my family so far.

I would like to recommend netguard but its total lack of wildcard matching in rules has driven me back to firewall without root. It was just too labour intensive to keep it working.

In firewall without root, not only can you decide per app about wifi and mobile connectivity but you can (optionally) create rules on a per host oder per-subnet basis as well als global rules (no facebook domains, for example). New apps create popup notification, when they try to access a network that is not yet covered by a rule.

Rulesets can be ex- and imported in json format so you wont have to start from scratch when you get a new phone or reinstall.

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So I’ve been trying out Netguard in the last few days. And what I’ve found is: It fulfills its purpose but has a drawback: I cannot use another VPN whilst using Netguard.

Whilst this is not always a problem it may. So I believe this is the only currently feasible solution(All other options here also need the VPN). Besides the option to use a root firewall, which I’ve to investigate further since I’m new to the android eco-system I do not know if that is a feasible solution.

Thank you all for the suggestions you made here. (Especially the “Tracker Control” also seems interesting)

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Actually, Netguard is the only non-root firewall solution that I have ever heard about to be able to do exactly that: not only filter your app connections, but also connect to a SOCKS Proxy which could be a VPN endpoint. It is pretty well hidden in the settings, sparsely documented and a bit cumbersome to use - but at least possible.