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In the last few years, I have been traveling a lot and been noticing that my iPhone’s data running out faster than usual. Previously, the majority of the time either I am at the office or at home, so mostly my phone was connected to Wi-Fi. Unlike now, most of the time I am either driving, traveling, attending conferences, or at a client’s place for meetings. So now most of the time my phone is using cellular data. Considering my outdoor activities, I upgraded my subscription plan, but still, I noticed that without me actively using the phone, my data usage is higher than normal.

I became curious to understand what is happening and also what can I do to control cellular data usage. I talked to a few tech-savvy friends, and also checked online about this. Then I realized my negligence that was leading to excessive data consumption and I started to be cautious about it along with that I tried a few more techniques to control cellular data usage on my iPhone. In this article, I will share with you what techniques I learned and applied on the iPhone that helped me control cellular data consumption. Understand and try these techniques and let me know how they help you. And if you have any more techniques, please share them in the comments.

Turn Off Portable Hotspot Immediately After Using

My first negligence was that I often forget to turn off my iPhone’s Portable Hotspot after using it. This hotspot is saved on my three laptops and two smartphones at home and the office both. And as obvious, Wi-Fi is always switched On in all these devices, there is a possibility that whenever these devices are within the range of my iPhone then they may get connected to the iPhone’s Hotspot automatically if another source of Wi-Fi is not active. And as we know, when a device gets connected to a Wi-Fi network, data consumption shoots very fast, as the connected devices do all the major data syncs and updates which consumes the cellular data in large volume.

The portable hotspot is a very handy utility that enables you to use your cellular data on other devices within range. Be very careful when using the hotspot and always make sure, you turn off your portable hotspot immediately after using it.

Change the Password of the Portable Hotspot Regularly

I remember sharing my iPhone’s Hotspot with my siblings, cousins, friends, and colleagues on a few random occasions. And recently, while thinking about the data consumption issue, I realized those devices may have the hotspot password saved. And as normally people keep their Wi-Fi switched On always, it is very likely that these devices may get automatically connected to the Hotspot whenever they are within range.

I may be working with your Hotspot On (or you may have forgotten to turn it Off), other devices which come within the range may get connected and the data will get consumed. As we have explained this above, when a device gets connected to Wi-Fi, it performs all the data-heavy activities like the major data syncs and updates which consumes the cellular data in large volume.

It is always advisable that, change your Portable Hotspot’s password regularly, so that no devices get automatically connected. And when you share your hotspot with someone, make sure you change the password immediately after they disconnect.

I am in Love with Low Data Mode

Apple has a superb built-in tool that helps in reducing the consumption of cellular data by temporarily disabling background processes such as background tasks, data sync, and auto-updates; which may otherwise constantly consumes data.

I have been using this feature for a long time now, and it is soo nice to have strict control over what the cellular data should avoid doing. All the syncs and updates happen only when I refresh them manually or when I connect with Wi-Fi. Follow these steps and enable Low Data Mode:

  • Step 1: Open the Settings App
  • Step 2: Tap on Cellular (you may have Mobile Data instead)
  • Step 3: Tap on Cellular Data Options
  • Step 4: Click on the toggle next to Low Data Mode

Regularly Review iPhone’s Data Consumption

There is a built-in tool in iPhone’s Settings App, that shows the detailed breakdown of cellular data usage across all applications. All you have to go to Settings App -> and tap on Cellular (you may have Mobile Data instead). Here you will see a list of all apps and a breakdown of data consumption. You should refer to this list on a regular basis to understand which apps consume the most data.

This feature helped me to point out which apps consume the most data. I suggest everyone review this useful information on a regular basis and decide the app usage accordingly.

Background App Refresh is Good, but Consumes a Lot of Data Constantly

iPhone has an interesting feature that keeps applications updated in the background, so whenever you open those apps, you will find them updated with the latest content. Now, it is very obvious this feature will be constantly using data in the background to fetch new content. Now, let’s say you access these apps only twice or thrice a week, then does it make any sense that your iPhone is spending data on it several times in an hour every day to constantly fetch the latest content?

There are two things you can do, either you can disable the background App Refresh, or allow it to refresh only when you are connected to Wi-Fi. You may also disable it for individual apps.

To disable (or set only Wi-Fi) background App Refresh for all apps:

  • Step 1: Open the Settings App
  • Step 2: Tap on General
  • Step 3: Background App Refresh
  • Step 4: Select Wi-Fi

Alternatively, you can also disable Background App Refresh for an individual app, follow the steps below:

  • Step 1: Open the Settings App
  • Step 2: Scroll down to the Apps list
  • Step 3: Open the App whose App Refresh function you want to disable
  • Step 4: Tap on the toggle to disable the Background App Refresh.

Once I made changes to a few apps as per my requirements, I have seen a decent drop in my data consumption. I recommend iPhone users use this technique, you can also manage this for individual apps.

Never Allow Cellular Data for iCloud Drive

I have found this to be the second biggest culprit after the Portable Hotspot to consume a lot of cellular data. Media files are always big, they were getting synced to iCloud Drive using cellular data, which means you can understand how much data could be getting consumed in a single day. I click around 25-40 pictures every day, and sometimes a few short video clips of products or meetings. I also receive pictures and videos over WhatsApp from clients. They were all getting synced using cellular data.

Once I understood this, I immediately changed the settings to Wi-Fi only, and since then the toll on cellular data has reduced drastically. I suggest all iPhone users change the settings today itself, and never allow cellular data to be used by iCloud Drive to transfer data. Let the data sync happen only over Wi-Fi. Follow the instructions below to disable cellular data for iCloud Drive:

  • Step 1: Open the Settings App
  • Step 2: Tap on Cellular (you may have Mobile Data instead)
  • Step 3: Scroll down to the bottom and tap on the toggle next to iCloud Drive to turn it off.

Turn Off Wi-Fi Assist, it is a Costly Convenience

When I learned about Wi-Fi Assist, I was confused and my reaction was, why should this feature exist in the first place? What purpose does it solve? To understand in simple words when the Wi-Fi connection is bad or gets disconnected, the iPhone’s Wi-Fi Assist feature will connect to cellular data automatically, now this will obviously increase the cellular data consumption. As soon as I got to know about this, I immediately disabled this feature.

Assume you are watching a series on Netflix or a video on YouTube, and for any reason, the Wi-Fi is not working, Wi-Fi assist comes to the rescue, and it automatically activates the cellular data. You may be thinking that you are on Wi-Fi, but no, your cellular data is also at risk when Wi-Fi goes bad.

To avoid that to happen it is better to disable Wi-Fi Assist. I suggest all iPhone users turn off the Wi-Fi Assist immediately. Follow the instructions below to disable Wi-Fi Assist:

  • Step 1: Open the Settings App
  • Step 2: tap on Cellular
  • Step 3: scroll down to find Wi-Fi Assist
  • Step 4: tap on the toggle to disable the Wi-Fi Assist

Never Allow App Store to do Auto Updates and Downloads using Cellular Data

I noticed that the App Store was automatically updating apps on my iPhone, often time while using Cellular Data. Apps get frequent security updates, so if you allow this to continue, it will consume cellular data frequently. As I have told before, always prefer to use Wi-Fi for all updates.

Follow the instructions below to Disable Automatic Downloads using cellular data:

  • Step 1: Open the Settings App
  • Step 2: Tap on App Store
  • Step 3: Under the header ‘Cellular data’, tap on the toggle next to Automatic Downloads to disable it.

Conclusion: Keep Proper Track of Data Consumption to Control it

I suggest iPhone users must always keep a thorough track of their phone’s cellular data consumption. There are certain built-in features that are by default leading to unnecessary data usage. In the last few years, when I noticed unreasonable data consumption, I researched about a lot of aspects and made necessary changes on my iPhone and noticed a drastic drop in data consumption. Now, I am able to have good control over it too. In the above article, I have shared my personal experience, and experiments with various settings changes I have done. I recommend you try them to control cellular data consumption on your iPhone.

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