Internet connections without some kind of bandwidth cap or overage fee are difficult to find. Fortunately, there are tricks you can employ to manage your
bandwidth usage in iOS. All these tricks can help you reduce your use of cellular data on your iPhone or iPad,￼ but some can also help you stay under a general broadband internet
Turn On Low Data Mode
iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 introduces a new feature called Low Data Mode, which promises to reduce your overall data usage. The only problem is, Apple hasn’t
been terribly open about how this exactly works, so while I recommend enabling it if you’re trying to save data, don’t expect it to be a panacea. However,
it will do things like warn you before you download large apps. You can enable it for Wi-Fi or cellular connections, and you can choose to enable it for
Enable Low Data Mode for Wi-Fi Networks:
- Go to Settings > Wi-Fi.
- Tap the info button for the network you want to limit.
- Turn on Low Data Mode.
Enable Low Data Mode for Cellular Data:
- Go to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options.
- Turn on Low Data Mode.
Monitor and Disable Cellular Data Usage
In Settings > Cellular, under Cellular Data, iOS lists every app that has used cellular data, along with a tally of how much data it has used since you
last tapped Reset Statistics at the bottom of the screen.
Turn off the switch for any app that you don’t want using cellular data. Beware that if you disable cellular data for an app, it won’t be able to use cellular
data for any purpose, possibly rendering it useless when off Wi-Fi.
Tip: Wi-Fi Assist makes your device automatically use cellular data when your Wi-Fi connection is poor, but that can lead to surprise data overages! Disable
it at the bottom of Settings > Cellular.
Stop Automatic Downloads
When you buy an app, ebook, or music from Apple, it downloads to your device automatically. These purchases can also automatically download to all your
other devices, so long as they are signed in with the same Apple ID. For example, if you bought an ebook from Apple’s Books Store on your iPad, it may
have downloaded automatically to your iPhone. Although this feature is convenient, it can eat data quickly.
To disable automatic downloads—and turn off automatic app updates—toggle the appropriate switch in Settings > iTunes & App Store. If you don’t want to
disable automatic downloads entirely, you can instead disable Automatic Downloads under Cellular Data on this screen. You can also tap App Downloads to
always be asked if you’d like to automatically download items over cellular, or just items over 200 MB.
Tip: If you disable automatic app updates, you should occasionally update your apps in the App Store. See
Restrict Background App Refresh
Background App Refresh keeps certain apps updated even when they’re in the background. While this feature keeps app content fresh and saves you from waiting
for data to load when you launch an app, it can also eat data without you realizing it.
You can disable Background App Refresh entirely, or on a per-app basis, in Settings > General > Background App Refresh. You can also tap Background App
Refresh at this screen and choose Wi-Fi to disable Background App Refresh entirely or only when on cellular data.
Limit iCloud Data Usage
Some iCloud services (shown in Settings > Your Name > iCloud) can use a lot of data, including Photos, Safari, News, and Backup (backups happen over Wi-Fi
only). Consider disabling these services if you don’t use them.
Turn Down the Music
The Music app can consume an overwhelming amount of data, especially if you use Apple Music, iCloud Music Library, or iTunes Match, or listen to online
Tap Settings > Music > Cellular Data to find options for controlling Music’s cellular bandwidth usage:
- Turning off Cellular Data does just that. You’ll only be able to listen to downloaded music while on cellular connections.
- Enabling Cellular Data in Music lets you control whether Music can use cellular data for streaming or downloads separately.
- If you choose to enable Streaming, you can turn off High Quality Streaming to lessen the impact on your data cap.
You can also enable Automatic Downloads in Settings > Music to automatically download songs in your library for offline playback. This cuts down on data
usage, but drastically decreases the free storage space on your device. The Optimize Storage setting in Settings > Music automatically removes downloaded
music when your device is low on space.
Tip: Developer Johnny Ixe offers three apps that can help you keep an eye on your data use:
. Visit the
for details on each one.