How to check data usage on an iPhone or iPad

Are you one of those people who always worries about how much data you’re using on your iPhone or other iOS device? As the end of your carrier’s billing cycle nears, do you wonder if you or a family member are going to cross the line over your data limit and incur the dreaded extra charges?

There’s good news. In recent versions of Apple’s operating system, including iOS 13, Apple makes it easier than ever to obsess over your data usage and take steps to mitigate it. We’ll show you how to check data usage on an iPhone whenever you like with this quick process, and we’ll explain how it can be used to limit your data use.

Keep an eye on your data

  • Turn on your iPhone and tap the Settings icon.
  • Once in Settings, look for an option that says Cellular and select it. With some iOS devices, this option may say Mobile Data or Cellular Data, but it’s the same thing. When the new window opens, scroll down to the section called Cellular Data or Use Data For.
  • Observe exactly how much data your phone has used in the current month or payment period.

Some information in this section may vary according to your carrier. However, most carriers provide a section at the top called Current Period. Many carriers also include a section called Current Period Roaming, a separate tracker of all roaming data used, since the two are frequently charged at different rates. If you don’t see any information about data used in the current period, call your carrier or log into the website and search for more specific information.

As you scroll down, you will see a list of all the iPhone apps you currently use. Each app includes information on how much data it has used (if it uses cellular data at all). Prior to iOS 12, apps were sorted alphabetically, but now they’re listed by usage, with apps that use the most data at the top. In the list, you’ll also see a section called System Services.

If you tap this, you will see all the very basic services on your iPhone and how much data they are using, too. This is the amount of data your phone has to use to provide communication services.

Save data when you use too much

Are the results of your data monitoring a little disturbing? Are you ready for a new iOS approach? If you’re suddenly anxious to cut back on data to save money, here are the methods iOS provides.

Switch data off by app

Remember that list of apps in Mobile Data or Cellular? They’re probably all switched to the green On state, but you can go through and toggle off any data-hungry apps, blocking them from using data. This is quite handy, especially if you never intended to have them on in the first place. It’s a good way to save on some data while still allowing important services to work. The only exception to this is System Services, which you cannot switch off.

Switch data off entirely

Do you want to put a moratorium on data for the remaining time frame to prevent additional fees? At the very top of the Mobile Data or Cellular window, you should see the Cellular Data label with a green button next to it. Flipping the green button to Off switches off your data connection. Different carriers may offer additional options, such as the ability to switch off Data Roaming and Voice Roaming separately. Switching on the Low Data Mode toggle also helps to reduce usage by pausing automatic updates and background tasks. You can still use Wi-Fi networks to go online.

Additional data services

Many carriers also offer options to switch from LTE, VoLTE, or 4G to 3G — which can help save on data — and choose what type of network connection you want for specific voice and data services. Switching voice services to 3G may help you save data if you make a lot of local calls — and some carriers enable Wi-Fi calling so you can switch off data entirely when making those calls. Your data speed will be slower on 3G.

Turning off Wi-Fi Assist

Wi-Fi Assist can be helpful under certain circumstances, but you probably want it turned off if you are trying to save data. For mobile devices that have it, Wi-Fi Assist automatically switches to cellular data when Wi-Fi can’t handle loading a webpage or is having similar networking problems, so it can use cell data when needed. If you are leaving some data services on, look for Wi-Fi Assist in the Cellular section of Settings, and toggle it off.

Download an app

If you need extra help, you can turn to third-party options to monitor and control your data usage. Here are a couple of good ones.

My Data Manager

My Data Manager

My Data Manager VPN Security helps you protect your online privacy and control your mobile data usage at the same time. It does this by securing your internet traffic via VPN, encrypting your data, and tracking your data use by app. Use it to assess data usage on mobile, Wi-Fi, and roaming to figure out which apps are consuming most of your mobile data. Schedule alerts before you reach your data limit to avoid extra fees and even set up a shared or family plan to track usage for the household.

App Store

Traffic Monitor

Traffic Monitor

With Traffic Monitor, you can oversee your data usage for a specified time frame according to your data plan, like the starting date of your billing period or your data cap. The app warns if you exceed your data volume. The new Today Extension widget lets you check current data usage via the Notification Center. You can also automatically track your data usage on a map even when you are not using the app, and you can control the background location feature anytime and anywhere.

App Store

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