No-one likes big phone bills, but unless you keep an eye on the data you are using, it is easy to exceed the allocation on your contract. If you have an iPhone, use these techniques to reduce data usage.
Social networking apps like Facebook, Twitter, LinkeIn and others, all like to keep up with the latest posts and messages and they do this by frequently connecting to the internet to fetch the latest updates. Email apps check for new messages, WhatsApp, Snapchat and others, connect to the internet to check for status updates, and there are many more apps that constantly update.
This behaviour does not matter if you have a Wi-Fi connection because there is no limit to the amount of data you can transfer. When you don’t have a Wi-Fi connection the phone transmits and receives data over the mobile network and this is limited and expensive if you use too much.
Check the data usage
The first thing to do is to keep an eye on the amount of data you have been using recently. Go to Settings, Mobile Data (or Settings, Cellular).
Look down the screen to the MOBILE DATA USAGE section and see what it says next to Current Period. It shows the amount of data used. Is it near to the limit specified in your contract? 1GB, 2GB and 4GB data limits are common and you will probably be on one of those. The switch at the top can be used to turn off mobile data if you are near your data allowance limit.
What is the current period?
The iPhone tracks data usage (calls too) and this is the time since this facility was last reset. Scroll right down to the bottom of the screen and there is a Reset Statistics link. It is best to press this when your next billing cycle starts, so that it is in sync with your bill and you can tell when you might be about to use too much.
Of course, you will forget to reset on the right day, so go to the Calendar app and put a recurring event or reminder on that day to press the Reset Statistics link.
Limit data usage
In Settings, Mobile Data (or Settings, Cellular) is a list of the apps on the phone. An on/off switch determines whether the app can use mobile data. Consider turning off apps if you regularly use too much data. I have turned off Facebook and FaceTime. I can live without Facebook updates while away from Wi-Fi, which is rarely very long, and I can live without FaceTime on mobile data. People can still phone me.
Don’t fetch as often
Go to Mail, Contacts, Calendars and press Fetch New Data. Right at the top is Push.
When an event occurs, such as a new email in your inbox on the mail server, the message can be pushed or fetched. If Push is enabled on the iPhone, and the service provides push facilities, the message can be sent to your phone immediately. There is no waiting and as soon as an email arrives, it is on your phone.
When events like new messages are fetched, apps will automatically check on a schedule. The schedule is down at the bottom of the screen – Every 15 minutes, Every 30 minutes, and hourly. There is also a manual setting.
Push will use mobile data because messages and other events are sent to the phone as soon as they occur. Services that do not offer push will always use the fetch schedule and the more frequent it is, the more data will be used. Set it to hourly to use the minimum of data while still keeping in touch with everyone.
It does mean that you might not see a new email, other message or event until the next fetch, possibly an hour away, but if you can live with this then it reduces the data.
Turn off roaming
If the phone cannot get a signal, it might use another carrier’s network. When data is used, this can incur charges. This most commonly occurs when travelling in another country and it is something to watch out for.
To avoid using data and being charged when travelling, go to Settings, Mobile Data (or Settings Cellular) and press Mobile Data Options. Turn off Data Roaming. See the first screen shot, the setting is at the top.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Published: 13 April 2016