Mobile (also called cellular) Data usage is how much data your iPhone transmits using cellular data. Cellular data is used to download and upload information when you are not connected to Wi-Fi or a hotspot. In other words, data usage is your Internet connectivity provided by your cell service provider, such as AT&T, T Mobile, Verizon, etc. If you are not on Wi-Fi or a hotspot, any app that requires an Internet connection, like FaceTime, iMessage, Mail, or Safari, won’t work unless you are connected to a cellular network.
Although unlimited data plans are common, many people still prefer to use plans with limited data because of the cost. Even most unlimited plans are not really unlimited. Your speed may be greatly reduced after reaching a certain threshold. This is why you may want to make sure that you are not using too much cellular data so that you stay within your data plan’s quota. If you are using a limited plan, you may want to stay within your data plan to avoid extra fees. In this article, I will show what you can do to ensure you are not using too much data.
How to check your mobile data usage
- Tap Settings.
- Tap Cellular or Mobile Data, depending on your carrier.
- Tap Usage. You will be able to see your overall cellular data usage.
- Scroll down, and you will also see which apps are using cellular data.
Low Data Mode
iPhone and iPad software includes a specific technology called Low Data Mode to save cellular data. You may want to turn this on. You can turn this on for Wi-Fi and Cellular. Some of the iPhone’s functionalities (such as iCloud Photo updates, Background App Refresh, etc.) will be disabled on cellular if you turn this on. Here is how:
Low Data Mode for Cellular
- Tap Settings.
- Tap Cellular, then Cellular Data Options:
- If your device supports 5G: Go to Data Mode, then turn on Low Data Mode.
- LTE/4G Cellular: Simply turn on Low Data Mode.
Low Data Mode for Wi-Fi (you may want to turn this on to save Wi-Fi data if needed)
- Go to Settings > Wi-Fi.
- Tap the info (i) icon next to the Wi-Fi network to which you are connected.
- Turn on Low Data Mode.
How to turn off cellular data usage
You can turn off cellular data completely. There may be instances you may want to do this. For example, you may completely use up your monthly data quota, and you may not want to use any more cellular data until the next billing period. When you turn off cellular data, you can still make and receive phone calls even without Wi-Fi. Here is how:
- Tap Settings and then tap Cellular or Mobile Data.
- Turn off Cellular Data.
Likewise, you may also want to turn off or on Data Roaming to avoid overcharges by going to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options.
How to prevent any app from using mobile data
You can restrict an app from using cellular data if you think it is using too much data. For example, you may want to prevent Netflix from using cellular data. When an app’s access to cellular data is restricted, it can still use your Wi-Fi data when you have a Wi-Fi connection. You will not be able to use the app over cellular again.
- Open Settings, and tap Cellular or tap Mobile Data.
- Scroll down and find the Cellular Data section.
- You will see a list of your apps. You will also see how much data each app has used for this or the last billing period (T-Mobile). You may also just see the usage for the Current Period (Verizon), which might be quite a long time — scroll to the bottom to find out when the current period started.
- Each app also has a switch. Toggle the switch off to prevent cellular data access. When an app is set to off, this app won’t work without Wi-Fi. For example, if you turn off FaceTime, you won’t be able to make or receive calls over cellular.
- If you scroll down, you will see that you can also restrict iCloud Drive and iCloud Backups from using cellular data. You should note that they may tend to use a lot of data.
Optimize your apps
Some apps may have additional cellular settings you can use to reduce their cellular data usage instead of completely disabling cellular data access. For example, most streaming apps may offer this type of setting. For example:
- Tap Settings > App Store.
- You can turn on or off cellular data for Automatic Downloads and App Downloads.
- You can also turn on or off cellular data for Video Autoplay.
Apple Music app
- Tap Settings > Music > and select Cellular Streaming.
- You can select one of these options:
- High Efficiency
- High Quality.
- You may want to select High Efficiency to save data while on cellular.
Apple TV app
- Tap Settings > TV.
- If you turn on the Use Cellular Data options, you will see additional settings.
- Tap Cellular and select Automatic to save data.
Please note that some apps offer these settings within the iPhone’s Settings app, while others have these within the apps’ settings.
Background App Refresh
Background App Refresh may also use a lot of data. You can turn off or on Background App Refresh for individual or all apps. You can also ensure that Background App Refresh does not use mobile data. Go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh > Background App Refresh. You will see three options: Off, Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi & Cellular. To turn off cellular data while keeping Background App Refresh on, select Wi-Fi.
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