6 ways to cut down data usage on your iPhone

26 July 2017

6 ways to cut down data usage on your iPhone

If we were to update Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs for 2017, mobile data would almost certainly sit at the bottom of the pyramid; who needs food or water?

If you've got an iPhone and want to make your monthly data allowance last as long as it can so you can stop worrying about that $10 top-up fee and start pursuing self-actualisation, we can help.

Everyone's going to tell you to use Wi-Fi wherever possible, but that's a bit obvious, so here are six other ways to cut down on your data usage.

Turn on low data modes in apps

Your favourite social media apps are probably among the biggest data drainers on your iPhone. Fortunately, many of these have ways to help you save a little bit of data.

On Facebook, you'll want to turn off auto-play videos, which you can find in Settings under "Videos and Photos".

On Instagram, you'll find "Mobile Data Use" in the Options menu. Here you can toggle on "Use Less Data".

On Snapchat, you can turn on "Travel Mode", which stops snaps from automatically downloading. You'll find this by opening Settings, scrolling down to Additional Services and tapping "Manage".

Install an adblocker

Not only is online advertising annoying, it also increases the amount of data you'll use when browsing in Safari. Installing an adblocker on your iPhone will not only save you data (since the ads won't download in the first place), but it can also improve your battery life and improve the overall speed of your web browsing experience. 

We quite like Purify, which will cost you $2.99 in the App Store.

Disable background app refresh

iOS apps are able to use data in the background - even when you don't have them open - in order to refresh their content. If you turn this off, an app will only be able to use data when you open it, making its behaviour a lot more predictable.

You can turn off background app refresh by opening Settings, going to General, and then tapping Background App Refresh. Here you can turn it off entirely, allow it for Wi-Fi only, or turn it off on app-by-app basis. Switching off background app refresh can also improve your iPhone's battery life.

Disable data access on an app-by-app basis

If disabling background app refresh isn't enough for you, you can completely cut off an app's access to mobile data. Under Settings, tap Mobile (or Cellular) and you'll find a list of every app you've got installed and their respective data usage. If there's any terrible offenders, you simply toggle them off. 

You'll still be able to use the network functionality on these apps when you're connected to Wi-Fi.

Don't stream music, download instead

If you subscribe to a music streaming service like Apple Music, Spotify, or Google Play Music, you're able to download your favourite tracks and albums directly to your smartphone for offline listening. Even if you're not "offline", the fact these songs are saved on your device means you won't need to burn any extra data when you want to give Megadeth's "Hangar 18" another spin.

Streaming music can use up to 150MB per hour. If you stream just an hour of music each day in a month, that's 4.5GB, so saving favourite songs can be a big help in saving data.

Alternatively, these services are also available data-free on certain providers. Telstra and Boost both allow you to stream data-free tunes through Apple Music, while Optus and Virgin offer data-free access to Spotify on Google Play Music on most plans.

Turn off Wi-Fi Assist

W-Fi Assist is an iPhone feature you might not know about: if your wireless connection is weak, your iPhone will automatically use your mobile data as a back-up. This can be useful, but it also makes it easy to use your data unknowingly.

To turn this off, open up Settings, go to Mobile (or Cellular), and scroll all the way down. You'll be able to toggle off Wi-Fi Assist here.

Want to know more? Read our guide to mobile data usage here. Alternatively, compare bring-your-own-device plans with heaps of data here!

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