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Cellular data usage on an iPhone can be a tricky thing to manage. With so many apps and features that use the internet, it's easy for things to quickly get out of hand.
Poor cellular data management can be caused by a variety of issues, from network to app problems and beyond. Here is a look at these causes in detail.
Lacklustre network coverage or improper settings could be the cause of excessive data consumption on your iPhone. As such, confirm you have full bars of signal strength before attempting to troubleshoot any further. Additionally, check your phone settings and ensure that Cellular Data is enabled for all the apps you need to use (such as Maps or Music).
This feature allows apps to refresh their content in the background while not being actively used — this means they're consuming data without you even knowing it. To save on unnecessary data consumption, head into Settings > General > Background App Refresh and either disable it entirely or selectively choose which apps are allowed to refresh.
Certain apps (like iTunes) automatically download new updates when available — making them a major contributor to excessive data usage. According to what you can find on BacklightBlog - an iPhone blog, keeping everything updated on a smartphone is the correct approach. At the same time, you have to consider specific exclusions, like cellular data consumption in this case.
To avoid this issue, open up your device's Settings app and scroll down until you find iTunes & App Store; then toggle off the switch next to "Use Cellular Data" under Automatic Downloads.
Some applications need access to your location in order to provide features or services — like Apple Maps asking for permission when calculating directions from Point A to Point B.
However, if Location Services is enabled for too many apps (or is left running in the background), it'll demand a lot of unnecessary data over time. Therefore, make sure only those apps that truly need location access have permission to do so.
Listening to music or streaming video/movies will quickly consume large amounts of cellular data — especially if you're streaming in high-quality formats like HD video or lossless audio files. Consider turning off media streaming altogether when using cellular networks — or at least setting it lower quality levels (such as 360p instead of 720p) when possible.
When Wi-Fi Assist is enabled on your device, it will automatically switch on Cellular Data if Wi-Fi signals are weak or unstable — consuming lots of mobile data without even realizing it.
To turn this feature off, open up Settings > Cellular and move down until you notice the "Wi-Fi Assist"; then toggle the switch off next to its name (this will also save battery life).
Whenever software updates become available for your device (be it the operating system or applications), downloading these over cellular networks can eat away at your precious mobile data allowance.
To disable the updates, head into Settings > iTunes & App Store and confirm that "Use Cellular Data" is turned off under the Automatic Downloads section (this way, only smaller app/game updates can be downloaded over cell networks).
Suppose other devices are connected via Personal Hotspot hosted by your iPhone. In that case, all their internet activity will be shared through your mobile plan's allowance — resulting in high amounts of consumed cell data.
Open up Settings > Personal Hotspot and ensure no other devices are currently connected through the feature (or just turn off Personal Hotspot altogether unless needed).
If your device is running an older version of iOS than what was initially released alongside it, then there might be certain bugs present within its system that result in poor cellular performance and excess data usage due to inefficient background processes without user knowledge or permission.
To manage the issue, simply update your device's OS by going into Settings > General > Software Update and checking for any available new versions; then, follow the instructions given by Apple to upgrade accordingly.
Many third-party applications found outside of Apple's official App Store may contain malicious code that does not work properly, resulting in excessive consumption of mobile data.
Always stick with official downloads from Apple's digital storefront to avoid these problems.
Backing up important information via iCloud may seem like a convenient way to securely store valuable files, but doing so regularly can actually lead to significant amounts of cellular bandwidth being used up – especially if large media such as photos/videos are included. To prevent this from occurring, limit how often iCloud backups occur by adjusting the settings in Settings > Your Name > iCloud > iCloud Backup.
If you are travelling overseas, then data usage charges can quickly rack up due to data roaming fees. To eliminate these unnecessary costs, turn off all Cellular Data features on your device when abroad.
You can do it in Settings > Cellular and by toggling the "Cellular Data" option off.