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Home / Tips and Tricks / Prevent certain apps from using cellular data on your iPhone to stay below data caps or to avoid throttling. «IOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks

Prevent certain apps from using cellular data on your iPhone to stay below data caps or to avoid throttling. «IOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks



If you have a cellular plan with a small amount of data, you can avoid a higher bill by using your data sparingly. But even if you have an affordable, unlimited plan from cellular carriers like T-Mobile or Verizon, exceeding a certain amount of data can throttle your connection and result in slow web speeds. One way to keep certain apps from reaching these thresholds is to keep certain apps in check.

There’s an easy way on your iPhone to turn off cellular data for the hungriest, most data-hungry apps. While you can only use these apps over Wi-Fi, this is a great option when you’re nearing your data limit or approaching slow speeds. That way, you don̵

7;t have to worry about over-cost, throttled data, or turning off cellular data entirely for the rest of the billing cycle.

Step 1: Find and analyze data usage per app

In your Settings app, open Cellular and scroll down to Cellular data or Cellular data for the primary database The latter applies if you have two cellular accounts on your dual SIM iPhone. This section shows all the apps and services that have used data, in order of the top data consumers for apps that have not used any.

What you see here actually depends on your carrier. For example, if you have T-Mobile, you may see tabs for “This Billing Period” and “Last Billing Period”. One shows you all the data that has been used so far during your current billing cycle and the other shows everything that you have used in the last billing cycle.

If you’re on AT&T, Verizon, Google Fi, or any other network, there is likely only one list for “Current Time Period”. Unfortunately, the current period does not mean your current billing period as with certain T-Mobile plans. Instead, it’s from the last time you reset the numbers and you can see the last time they were reset at the very bottom of this page.

Mobile phone usage on a T-Mobile tariff (left) compared to other carrier tariffs (right).

In both cases, under the name of each app or service, you can see how much cellular data that app or service has used. There is currently no way to sort these apps and services alphabetically. So if you want to see the data usage by a specific app, you have to look for it, which with hundreds of apps installed may not be possible.

When you see the “This Billing Cycle” and “Last Billing Cycle” tabs, you can compare them to the current numbers to find recurring data guzzling apps and see if a current data muncher is just an anomaly.

If you only see the “Current Period” this can be used to find top data consumers since the last reset. However, this can be months or even years. Still, you can tell which apps you want to save data for and which apps you are mostly less interested in. If you want to keep track of things, consider setting a reminder to reset statistics at the start of each billing cycle. However, you don’t need to do this if you just want to blacklist a few specific apps from cellular networks.

Step 2: turn off cellular access for greedy apps

To turn off the basement data for a specific app, simply turn off the switch next to it. Once cellular data is turned off, you can only use this app when you are connected to Wi-Fi.

If you are on a cellular network with no Wi-Fi connection and try to use the app, you will get a notification saying “Cellular data is disabled for” [AppName]. You can then either click Settings, find your way back to toggle it and turn it back on if you need it badly, or you can tap OK to ignore it and use the app without an internet connection.

What Instagram looks like is cut out of cellular data.

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Cover image and screenshots by Nelson Aguilar / Gadget Hacks

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