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[iOS] Burning through mobile data? Try doing these…

Reduce High Data Usage on your iPhone

Paying for the monthly phone bill can be a moment of dread for people fearing they went over their data limits. With “Unlimited Data” plans is almost a thing of the past, most cell phone owners have imposed data limits. With every new iOS update, there have been numerous complaints of unusually high cellular data usage. If this is the case for you, we have some tips you can use to reign in that cellular data consumption.

Turn Off Cellular Data Usage for iCloud

If you use iCloud to move files back and forth between devices, this could lead to higher than usual data fees. If you are working on a Pages document during your Uber ride, that means you’re using cell data. All those edits and changes are being saved to the cloud and using data during the process. So, if you can

  1. Open Settings and go to iCloud.
  2. In the iCloud section tap on iCloud once more
  3. At the next screen scroll all the way to the bottom and disable “Use Cellular Data.”
iCloud - Cell Data

When you disable this feature, iCloud will no longer use cell data to transfer docs or data, which will save power users some vital bits of data.

Disable Wi-Fi Assist

Wi-Fi Assist can be just as harmful as it is helpful. When trying to supplement a weak Wi-Fi signal, Wi-Fi Assist uses Cellular Data to help with bad service. While this does help, you could unknowingly be using a bunch of data. To disable the feature:

  1. Open the Settings app and find Cellular.
  2. Scroll all the way to the bottom and slide the toggle for Wi-Fi Assist OFF.
Wi-fi assist - disable

Again, for folks that may have a weak Wi-Fi signal at home, you actually be using cellular data if you had Wi-Fi assist enabled. If you have had unusually high data usage, Wi-Fi assist could be the problem. But, with one problem comes more.

DISABLE  Background App Refresh

This is a very common trick to save on data. Apps can update in the background, while you are not using them and this of course, consumes data. This can be disabled and won’t really effect how you interact with your phone.

  1. Go to Settings -> General and find Background App Refresh. 
  2. Open the menu and disable the function at the top. The apps will go from green to blank.
    • You can review the list of apps that had Background Refresh below the toggle.
Background Refresh - Disable

This is an option is usually disabled to save on battery life, but it works for saving on data as well.

Disable Autoplay Videos on Cellular Network

Over the last few years, Facebook and Twitter have introduced a feature which autoplay the videos automatically in your timeline. It offers a great experience but with more people sharing videos on Facebook and Twitter, you’re unknowingly using up lot more data on your iPhone or cellular if you’ve autoplay videos enabled.

Check our post to find out how to prevent videos from playing automatically in Facebook and Twitter.

➤ Tip: How to reduce mobile data usage on iPhone or iPad for Facebook and Twitter users

Disable Automatic Downloads on Cellular Data

App downloads are some of the biggest files on your device. If you are downloading these automatic updates, that could really add up. Instead, wait until you are connected to Wi-Fi before downloading and updating your apps.

  1. In Settings find App and iTunes Stores.
  2. In the Apps and iTunes Stores section, you’ll see Use Cellular Data. Turn this off and you’re good to go.
Auto Download


Monitor or Disable Data Hungry Apps

This is more of a general tip. But there are certain apps that you use more than others. Some of these apps won’t consume data at all and others will. It’s always good to know which apps consume data, and more importantly if those apps even need access to cellular data.

Toggle Apps - Cellular

Be sure to prevent unnecessary, data-hungry apps from using cellular data. Just toggle them off one-by-one.

Avoid Streaming High-Quality Music

Apple has created the option to stream high quality music regardless of your being on Wi-Fi or cellular. Of course, the higher the quality, the larger the file. The larger the file, the more data is needed to stream it. So, if you are in a pinch with your data limits, you’ll want to turn this OFF.

  1. Open Settings and head to Music
  2. Find and disable High Quality on Cellular
  3. If you really want to avoid data fees, you can also disable Use Cellular data. With this option disabled, you will only be able to stream Apple Music over Wi-fi.
Music - Data

Disabling High Quality is the best option for those people who still want to listen to music over data, but don’t want the higher file size. If you use Pandora, Tidal, or Spotify, you can make sure that those only stream over Wi-Fi as well.

Last Resort: Avoid using cellular data completely

As a last resort, you can turn off cellular data completely. If you are at your 2GB monthly limit and can’t afford to go over, then this is your number one option.

  1. Settings -> Cellular
  2. Turn Cellular Data OFF.
Cellular Data - OFF

If you are not on Wi-Fi applications, like ESPN, will not load without cellular data turned off. So, no need to fear about adding extra data when this is toggled OFF.

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