Google Chrome for Android data compression: what you need to know

Martin Brinkmann
May 25, 2013
Updated • Jan 15, 2014
Apps, Google Android

The very latest Chrome beta for Android is now supporting data compression out of the box. Previously, you had to enable the feature on the experimental chrome://flags page on the device to make use of it. Now, the feature is part of the mobile browser's settings just like any other preference there.

To use it, you need the latest version of Chrome Beta installed on your Android device. You can grab it from Google Play or, if you have already installed it on your phone or tablet, via internal updates. The browser should display the update notification next time you start it.

Update: The feature has been rolled out to Chrome Stable for Android and iOS as of today (January 15th, 2014). When you start Chrome for the first time, you will receive a notification about the new feature which you can use to learn more about it or enable it on your device. You can enable or disable it in the settings as well as described below.

To find out if it is enabled or disabled do the following:

  1. Click on the menu button and select settings from the context menu that opens up.
  2. Locate bandwidth management here and activate the menu.
  3. Tap on reduce data usage on the next page.
  4. A switch at the tab indicates if it is turned on or off. You can tap on it to change its state. The very same page displays information about your data savings as well.

chrome data compression

What's happening if you activate it?

If you activate the data compression feature in Chrome, all regular requests are redirected through Google servers. This is done to compress the data that is transferred between your device and the Internet. Compressing means that you will usually need to transfer less data than before to display websites or access other contents on the Internet.

You benefit from this if..

  1. You are on a limited bandwidth mobile data plan where every Kilobyte counts, or if you pay per Kilobyte / minute.
  2. The reception in your area is particularly bad so that your phone drops to low speed mode.

The traffic is only routed through a Google server if you are accessing http sites. Https connections are exempt from this.

A SPDY proxy runs on the server that can "multiplex multiple request and response streams in parallel over a single TCP connection". What this means is that you will get your data faster not only because it is compressed, but also because of SPDY which improves the connection speed in multiple ways:

  1. It transcodes images to the WebP format which reduces the image size. By how much depends on the source format used on the website, and how optimized it has been. According to Google, resulting images are up to 80% smaller.
  2. HTML, JavaScript and CSS are minified and compressed.


Since you direct all http traffic through a Google server, you are informing Google about all websites that you visit on the Internet. Google can theoretically create a more thorough profile about your activities than before.


The Opera browser supports a similar concept called Off Road mode.


Data compression modes can speed up mobile Internet browsing significantly. These features on the other hand introduce possible privacy issues which users need to be aware of before they enable them in their browser of choice.


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  1. ilev said on May 25, 2013 at 12:24 pm
    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 25, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      I have not, have you? I’ll take a look.

      1. ilev said on May 26, 2013 at 3:15 am

        I don’t have an Android device, I am an iPhone user :-)
        One of my friends did like the browser.

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