How To: Reduce Data Usage On Your iPhone or iPad

How To: Reduce Data Usage On Your iPhone or iPad

Last week, we wrote about how to monitor your data usage using the in-built data usage monitor setting in iOS 7 and using third party apps. So this week we decided to arm you with a few little tricks you can use to help reduce your data usage and make the most of your monthly data allowance.

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Turn Off 3G/4G

The quickest and easiest way to avoid excess data usage charges is by simply turning your data off. This is a stress and hassle free way of making sure you won’t exceed any set limits. You will no longer have to worry about processes in the background, automatic updates or iMessages eating up data.


Settings Page Screenshot iOS7 iPhone

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Mobile Page in Setting Screenshot iOS7 iPhone


To turn off mobile data:

  1. Open Settings>Mobile.
  2. At the top of the Mobile screen there is an option for Mobile Data, tap the toggle to turn it off.
  3. If this has been turned off successfully options for 4G and Data Roaming should disappear.

Of course, this means that while data is disabled, you won’t be able to receive emails, browse the internet or use any apps that rely on a data connection, unless you are connected to WiFi.

Keep Certain Apps Off Cellular Data

One of the great features of iOS7 is that it allows you to stop certain apps from using your mobile data and will only allow them to be used when connected to WiFi. Since certain apps are more data hungry than others, this is a great way to stop particular apps from sucking up all your data for the month.

Mobile - use mobile data for app iOS7 iPhone Screenshot

To stop particular apps from using mobile data:

  1. Open Settings>Mobile
  2. Scroll down until you see the heading Use Mobile Data For:
    Below this heading will be a comprehensive list of all of your apps and how much data they have used since you last reset your statistics
  3. To stop an app from using mobile data, tap the toggle next to the app so it turns off.


Data Compression Apps

From data conserving browser applications to data monitors, there are number of free tools available to stop you from using up all your data.

Onavo Extend App iTunes App Store Screenshot iOS7 iPhone


Onavo Extend is one of these apps, which compresses your data so you can get more mileage out of your data allowance.  Onavo Extend will only allow your browser to load images when you scroll down to them, which helps you to avoid loading images you won’t even look at. It also balances the image quality you send and receive based on your data savings. Another handy feature, it details how much data each of your apps is using so you can work out what exactly is using up your data. This app runs in the background and can slow the loading and buffering processes on your phone, but it will automatically turn itself off when you connect to WiFi network.

Setting up the app is incredibly simple. Once you launch the app, it takes you through a setup wizard, in which the app will install the VPN it requires. When this has been completed, the app will automatically start running in the background, helping to save and conserve data when you open an app or your browser.

You can view the amount of data the app has saved, your top data saving apps and data statistics for specific days from the home screen. Tapping Savings will show you a list of your apps and their data usage, while tapping and holding a spot on the home screen graph will display your daily data statistics.

Using Onavo Extend (or any other app that compresses data), is an easy way to reduce your data usage. Because it runs in the background, it requires little input from the user, leaving you to implement some of these other great tips and tricks for optimal data usage.

Turn Off Automatic Downloads

Automatic downloads are one of the main causes of excess data usage. There are always new app updates available so if you’ve got five pages of apps then you’d have quite a few updates to download each month. It’s no secret that these updates can contain rather large file sizes, and if they are being downloaded using the mobile network, your data allowance can be gone before you can blink.


Settings - itunes and app store screenshot iOS7 iPhone

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iTunes App Store - automatic downloads iOS7 iPhone screenshot


Fortunately enough, iOS7 users can easily turn their automatic updates off:

  1. Open Settings> iTunes & App Store.
  2. Scroll down to Automatic Downloads. Below this heading there will be options for Music, Apps, Books and Updates.
  3. To turn one or all of these off, tap the toggle next to option. Automatic Downloads will then be turned off.

Turning these automatic downloads off will mean that you will have to manually download music, books, updates and apps when you desire them. It is recommended that you only download updates when connected to WiFi.

Connect To WiFi

Connecting to WiFi whenever you can is an easy and carefree way to minimise your data usage. These days it is very common for many restaurants, bars, cafes and public places like libraries to have free WiFi networks and connecting to one of these before you browse the net can mean the difference between going over or staying under your cap.

If you’re unsure as to whether or not there is an available wireless network, you can easily check this in your settings. To see if there is an available network to connect to follow the below steps.

WiFi  settings connect to network iOS7 iPhone screenshot

  1. Open Settings>WiFi.
  2. If WiFi is not on, turn it on by tapping the toggle.
  3. Once WiFi is on, you will see a list of available networks. Tap on a network to connect.
  4. If the network is publicly free then you should be automatically connected but if the network is secured you will need a network access key.
  5. If a key is required, ask the store/shop owner for the password key and type it into the relevant box.

You should now be connected to WiFi. Ensure you always exercise caution when connecting to a public WiFi network. Many public wireless networks are not secure, which makes users connected to these networks attractive targets.

Delete Data Hungry Apps

Some apps consume more data than others so if you’re having trouble staying under your monthly limit, it could be time to delete some of the apps that eating up all your data.


Mobile - use mobile data for app iOS7 iPhone Screenshot



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Delete apps - hold app icons iOS7 iPhone screenshot


It’s very easy to work out which apps are using the most data and then delete them and we’ve outlined how to do it in the steps below.

  1. Open Settings>Mobile.
  2. Scroll down until you see Use Mobile Data For. This is a list of all apps on your phone and how much data they have used.
  3. Once you’ve worked out which apps you would like to delete, press the home button to exit Settings.
  4. Locate the app you would like to delete.
  5. Press and hold the app icon.
  6. Once the icon starts jumping around and an x appears, tap the x and the app will be deleted.

Turn Off Push Notifications and Auto Sync

By turning off your push notifications and auto sync you’ll prevent apps from syncing automatically with a remote server. This allows you to choose when you want to sync your apps, like when you’re connected to a WiFi network.


Mail, Contacts, Calendars - fetch new data screenshot iOS7 iPhone

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Fetch New Data - push iOS7 screenshot iPhone


To turn off Push Services and Auto Syncs like mail and contacts, you can follow the below steps.

  1. Open Settings>Mail,Contacts,Calendars>Fetch New Data.
  2. Turn the toggle next to Push off.
  3. You can also tap on each of the mail, contacts, cloud and other options to set them to Manual.

Here are the steps to follow in order to turn off your Push Notifications.


Notification Centre - Include screenshot iPhone iOS7

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Do Not Disturb - Manual screenshot iOS7 iPhone


  1. Open Settings>Notifications.
  2. Here will be a list of all apps that send push notifications. Tap on an app.
  3. Turn the toggles for Show In Notification Centre and Show On Lock Screen off.
  4. Alternatively, if turning these off individually is tedious you can open Settings>Do Not Disturb.
  5. Tap the toggle next to Manual to stop all Push Notifications.

Be aware that is push services and notifications are turned off the Find My iPhone function won’t work. So it is a good idea to try and leave this data saving measure until you really need it.