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How to Use Less iPhone Data and Save Money



If you’re out and about most of the time, then chances are you use up a lot of data on your iPhone. That could be costing you in overage fees, but here’s how to use less data on your iPhone and save a lot money in the process.

According to a survey of mobile data consumption in 2013 conducted by JDSU, iPhone 5s users (and iPhone users in general) use up the most data of any other smartphone or tablet brand.

The survey examined data usage habits of over a million mobile subscribers using over 150 different smartphone and tablet brands over a 24-hour timespan in Europe. From that, it was discovered that Apple smartphone owners gobble up more data than anyone else.

Using a lot of data can end up costing subscribers more money than they bargained for at the end of the month, whether it’d be in overage fees or the need to upgrade their data plan to account for more data. However, there are ways to try and reduce your monthly data usage without making a ton of sacrifices while out on the go. Let’s take a look at some simple tricks that you can pull in order to save yourself the embarrassment of overage fees.

Connect to WiFi Whenever You Can

One of the most effortless methods to save precious data is to simply jump on a WiFi network, whether that’d be at home, at work or at a coffee shop. You can watch all the YouTube videos you want without having to worry about using up your allotted data amount.

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However, if a WiFi network isn’t available, then you don’t have much of an option, but there are still a few settings that you can change to at least lessen the damage done to your data plan.

Turn Off Cellular Access to Specific Apps

Most of your apps that you have installed on your iPhone need to access the internet to download data and other information so that it’s up to date and can provide a better user experience. However, that requires the app to tap into your data allotment and go wild, and the damage can be pretty bad if it’s an app like Netflix or Spotify where it’s streaming video and music.

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However, you can easily disable these kinds of apps from connecting to the internet if you’re on LTE or 3G. To do this, simply open up the Settings app, tap on Cellular and then scroll down to the section titled Use Cellular Data For. You’ll see a list of the apps that you have installed, and from there, you can disable any specific app from accessing the internet when you’re on a 3G or LTE connection. Just tap on the toggle switch next to the app to turn data access on or off.

Personally, I have all of my data-hogging apps disabled, including the App Store, Netflix, Spotify, Downcast and even FaceTime, because video chatting uses up a lot of data if you’re not on WiFi.

Disable Background App Refresh

On smartphones, apps can automatically refresh with new information, even when they’re not currently open and being used, that way when you come back to the app later on, it’ll already be updated with new information automatically.

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However, this is mostly just a convenience feature and isn’t really necessary most of the time. Plus, if you’re not on a WiFi connection, the data used for refreshing background apps can add up quickly, depending on how many of your apps are refreshing in the background.

Luckily, you can disable this feature for specific apps of your choosing. Simply open up the Settings app and navigate to General > Background App Refresh. You can flip the main switch at the top to completely disable Background App Refresh for any and all apps, or you can disable it only on specific apps. Disabling this feature also saves battery life, so it’s a win-win situation.

Disable Data Usage in Cloud and Photo Apps

While you can disable certain apps from using cellular data, it’s also a good idea to disable the feature inside of the app itself, if it provides such a option. In many cloud storage apps and photo apps, you’ll find a setting that allows you upload files only over a WiFi connection or use a data connection if WiFi isn’t available.

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It’s always safe to only allow uploads over WiFi, that way you’re not hit with any surprise overage fees when your next statement rolls around.

Disable Auto-Play Videos in the Facebook App

Perhaps one of the biggest culprits of hogging data are those annoying auto-playing videos that appear in your Facebook News Feed in the iOS app. Luckily, there’s an easy way to disable them from automatically playing.

Open up the Settings app, scroll down and tap on Facebook. Once you’re there, navigate to Settings > Auto-play and select either Wi-fi only or Off. Having it set to Wifi-only will disable the auto-playing videos only when you’re on a cellular connection, but will continue to auto-play whenever you’re on a WiFi connection.

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Just Don’t Use Your Phone

Perhaps the best way to save data on your iPhone is to simply not use your iPhone in the first place while you’re out on the go.

Of course, this is easier said than done, and there are times when we need our smartphones for looking up information or are expecting a call. However, if you’re just waiting in line at the grocery store and want to browse Facebook and Twitter, the better plan is to simply leave your phone in your pocket and just wait in line.

Do some people-watching, go through one of the magazines sitting on the stand beside you, or even try to make small talk with the person behind you or in front of you. Whatever the case, you don’t need to check Facebook and Twitter whenever you have a spare moment.



  1. Karen

    09/07/2014 at 11:20 pm

    I kept trying to post this to share with my Facebook friends and it won’t work. Thanks

  2. CJ

    10/29/2014 at 4:08 pm

    No settings can take away the fact the APP always refreshes and syncs and downloads DATA in background. Even if background operations are off, they will do it when you open the App and you will have to WAIT till your FB profile data is sync’d with the APP on your phone. Push notifications + background operations are Battery & Data eaters. Data Plan = Money in the world of Smartphone.

    Hence i Ask, Can you think of using FB on the Mobile Browser instead if you were to login only once into FB and 1 TAP takes you straight to LOGGED-IN FB Mobile Website for a Battery Friendly and Data Friendly approach to FB?

    I ran a test yesterday on my iPhone 5s

    FB app store data size – 70.5 MB ( this is what is written on the app store)
    After Install app size – 104 MB (probably downloaded updates)
    First time App opening size in settings – 114 MB ( not sure why it took 10MB just to open the FB app)
    After login to FB, app size became – 131MB ( 17MB just to login to FB on the native APP)
    So FB instaly became 131MB on my phone without even browsing it for ONCE.
    After browsing my own profile + 50 photos. and 1 video link, FB App size – 197 MB

    I tried a new app called “whats local today”, it provides a mobile website to access fb,twitter,linked in,google+,tumblr on 1 screen.

    SEE for yourself what were the results of the same test on my iPhone 5s.

    Whats local today App store size – 56.6 MB (this is what is written on the app store)
    After install app size- 64 MB
    First time app opening size – 98.4 MB ( downloaded updates after opening the app for the first time)
    After login and browsing on fb – 102 MB.
    It presented a mobile website of FB where i only need to login once and it opens fb for me the next time i open this app.
    After browsing my own profile + 50 Photos + 1 video link of FB through this app, App size – 119MB
    Its a new style mobile browser. login once only. then fb mobile website available at a single tap.
    uses 35-40 % less data than fb native app.

    Please test it for your self. i tested it on iphone 5s by instantly switching in between Storage SETTINGS PAGE and the Steps i mentioned Above from App store to APP Install without even browsing once)

    “whats local today” Doesn’t run in background at all because its a browser loading a simple page.
    Messaging is available but no push notifications because of the mobile website version of fb.

    “whats local today” is a battery & data efficient way of using fb. Only need to login once and browser automatically opens FB next time.

    I have deleted the FB + other native apps from my phone and the battery has improved significantly.

    whats local today works well for me as FB is still just a TAP away & provides Messaging as well.

    please try it for yourself and you shall save your money by using lesser Mobile DATA.

    – Chetan

  3. Lucrecia Ayala

    02/21/2016 at 10:24 am

    This was very helpful. Thank You!

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