One of the main concerns for those who have a limited franchise with the operator or opt for a prepaid plan is the data consumption. We have already talked about the function that is villain in this sense, but there are also other settings that may be using your 3G / 4G without you knowing it.
So we’ve made a list of adjustments you can make so that you don’t have any surprises on your phone bill.
Definition of “Cellular Data”
Before we start, it’s interesting to make clear the definition of “cellular data”, Used by Apple and present in the System Settings. We call it that when we connect to cellular networks, offered by operators. When you turn off the Cellular Data function on the system, it does not interfere with the ability to make or receive phone calls, nor the ability to use Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. Therefore, in this article we will talk specifically about the internet connection made by the operator, which can happen both on the iPhone and on the iPad model Cellular (the one that allows you to use a 3G / 4G chip).
Checking your own consumption
If you think you are spending too much on your data franchise, the first thing is to find out what else consumes it. This can be checked in the menu Settings> Cellular> System Services, which lists everything you’ve spent since the last time you reset your statistics.
In addition, you can find out how much each application spent individually from your data plan, in the menu Settings> Mobile. Below the name of each one, you can see this information, which shows how much has been consumed since the last reset of the statistics.
Statistics don’t help much if you don’t reset them from time to time. By resetting the statistics, you can see how much you spent within a certain time range, such as the last month, for example, or since you last loaded your prepaid. This is done in the same menu Settings> Mobileat the bottom of the page.
Ideally, you should mark the iOS calendar as a fixed day in the month that always reminds you to reset the statistics. It can be the start day of the billing cycle, if you have a postpaid plan, so you will have recorded exactly what you spent that month.
Configure data usage by application
When you are not connected to a Wi-Fi network, it may happen that an application is consuming data without you even knowing it, in the background. Fortunately, iOS allows you to authorize apps that may or may not connect to the data network, but you need to configure this manually. Many people do not know this and end up spending their franchise for nonsense.
Open the Settings and go to the menu Cell phone. You will see a list of installed applications; those with the green button are the ones who can connect when you’re on 3G / 4G. So turn off all those you don’t intend to use while you’re on the street, so they don’t steal your franchise. Our tip is that you pay more attention to the following applications:
- YouTube (and other video apps)
- Streaming apps (like Spotify, Netflix, etc.)
- App Store, iTunes Store
- Photos (the native app)
- Cloud storage applications (Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, etc.)
- Freemium games, which bring a lot of advertising
If you happen to need to connect one that has turned off, just open the same menu and temporarily enable it.
Avoid watching, posting or downloading videos
Social media may or may not over-burn your data franchise, depending on how you behave on it. Videos are capable of quickly depleting your data, so you should avoid them at any cost when on the 3G / 4G network. And this serves both to view and to post, in addition to the videos received by WhatsApp or iMessage. In WhatsApp settings you are able to determine to download video, audio and images only over Wi-Fi, without using the data network.
It is very easy to forget this tip and spend a lot of band on Facebook, with videos and images. Stay tuned.
Watch out for Siri
Siri and Dictation need the internet to interpret what you say. They consume very little data and shouldn’t really be a cause for concern, but it’s important to be aware that you use your data plan every time you talk to Siri.
Use cost-effective browsers
If you access many sites while on 3G / 4G, it may be a good idea to use browsers that have bandwidth saving features, like Google Chrome or Opera Mini. The savings are minimal, but it always helps. The only drawback is that iOS does not have a way to set other browsers as default, so links received by messages or email will open automatically in Safari.
Opera reduces the code so much that it ends up disfiguring the layout of some sites. In Chrome, the data saving feature must be enabled manually in the application settings.
Configure incoming email
The Mail application, by default, is configured to constantly download emails from the server, so that you are immediately notified as soon as a message arrives. This is very useful nowadays and essential for not losing any important communication. But you can choose to turn this feature off if you don’t intend to read emails on the street or don’t have that much urgency. You will still be able to download all your emails every time you open the Mail application (this is called a manual update), it just won’t download automatically once it reaches the server.
Open the Settings and go to the menu Passwords and Accounts> Get New Data. You will see the list of registered emails on this screen, and you can individually change each one of them to three available states:
- Push: you will receive the email as soon as it is sent, almost instantly. Not all services have this option.
- Get: the system automatically downloads emails within an established interval.
- Manual: the system will only download emails when you open the Mail application.
The tip is to adjust the less urgent emails to manual. You can also increase the “Get” time interval at the end of the same screen.
The only drawback is that there are no specific adjustments to the data network; what is set up here will also apply when you are on the Wi-Fi network, so evaluate your needs well before setting up.
This new function is interesting on paper, but in real life it seems not to have been done for countries whose data plans are limited. With it, the system automatically switches to a cellular connection when the Wi-Fi signal is bad. This is a very cool feature, which improves the quality of user experience that does not even notice the quality of your internet when you are moving around the environment where you are connected. The problem is that, without any warning, the system starts using the cellular network, and that is where many are caught off guard at the end of the month, when the phone bill arrives.
Although Apple was wrong to leave this function turned on by default (making many not even know it exists), it also left us the possibility to turn it off whenever we want. And if you’re unhappy with your iPhone’s high data consumption, this should be one of the first things to set up.
Open the Settings and go to the menu Cell phone and, at the bottom of the screen, turn off the option Wi-Fi support.
Finally, we leave the most important tip of all. Another big secret data consumption villain is the iCloud Drive, Apple’s cloud storage system that makes our lives a lot easier, but that connects to the internet at all times, without our realizing it. The problem is that few know that they can disable this synchronization over the data network, because the option for this is hidden in a different place. And iCloud can sometimes handle large documents, which consumes a lot of bandwidth. If you don’t need it for work or any other reason, ideally, you should turn off the possibility of syncing over the data network, making it sync only when you connect to a Wi-Fi network.
Open the Settings and go to the menu Mobile> iCloud Drive. Turn off the option and you will see your data consumption drop dramatically. Believe.
Turning off Cellular Data
The most radical attitude: completely turn off cellular data. Between 3G and Wi-Fi, the iPhone will always choose the second. IOS is able to identify when a known Wi-Fi network is available, giving preference to it and connecting automatically. That’s why when you get home, you see the Wi-Fi symbol at the top of the screen without having to do anything. However, it can happen that the Wi-Fi connection goes down when the device is at rest, which makes it connect to 3G / 4G without having to perform a task in the background. Therefore, the ideal to avoid involuntary consumption is to get used to turning off the data network as soon as you get home. This is even advisable for those who have prepaid internet that only charges per day of use.
Open the Settings and go to the menu Cell phone. At the top you will see the option to turn off cellular data.
You can see other useful tips like this in our Tips Section.