Wi-Fi is everywhere. Broadband plans are fast, and relatively cheap. The only thing that still sucks is cellular data and just how expensive it is. Not everyone has unlimited cellular data. If you’re on a particularly tiny data pack, things can be even worse for you. Like I-can’t-even-open-my-email-app worse. Or maybe you’re just 3 days away from the next billing cycle and you don’t want to top up right now.
Whatever your situation might be, if you’re looking to reduce your mobile data usage on iOS 10 – iOS 10.3.3 so you don’t end up paying the overage charges, we’ve got the right answers. All of them.
How to Reduce Your iPhone’s Mobile Data Usage in iOS 10.3.3 – iOS 10
1. Disable Autoplay Videos Everywhere
I cannot stress enough, just how important this step is to reduce your data usage. I still find it preposterous that an app like Facebook, by default autoplays videos even when you’re on cellular data. Before doing anything else, disable autoplay videos for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Steps are below.
Facebook: Tap the “More” tab, select “Settings” -> “Account Settings” -> “Videos and Photos” -> “Video Settings” -> “Auto-play” and either select “On Wi-Fi Connections Only” or “Never Auto-plays Videos” (99 points to Facebook for burying the crap out of this option).
Twitter: From your profile view, tap the “Gear” icon, select “Settings” -> “Data” -> “Video Autoplay” and then either choose “Never play videos automatically” or “Use Wi-Fi only”.
Instagram: From your profile view, tap the “Gear” icon on the top, select “Mobile Data Use” and toggle the “Use Less Data” option.
2. How Much Data Are Your Apps Using?
Just going to the “Cellular” option in Settings, and browsing through all the apps, and how much data they’ve used, can be revealing, sometimes shocking.
For me, I listen to a lot of podcasts. Sometimes I stream them over data, when I’m out and about. But the problem is that Overcast doesn’t tell me just how much each episode weighs. So I’m almost always surprised to see Overcast’s consumption in the Cellular section.
Podcasts are my vice. Yours can be Instagram, Apple Music, or god forbid, YouTube.
For this page, you’ll be able to see the apps that use the most data. Best thing to do would be to find these culprits and outright disable their right to access cellular data. If you need, you can come back and enable it later on.
3. Disable Cellular Data for iCloud
If you use iCloud Drive for backing up files and data from apps, you should check to see if the “Use Cellular Data” in “iCloud Drive” section of the Settings app is turned on or not.
Because if it is, some app might be backing up data, on 3G, without you knowing.
4. Disable Automatic Downloads
The Automatic Downloads option is going to be the biggest killer of your data plan, if activated. In the Settings app, go to “iTunes and App Store” and make sure “Use Cellular Data” option is disabled.
This means you won’t be able to download new app or automatically update them when on cellular data.
5. Disable Wi-Fi Assist
When it came out, this sounded like a great idea. Until it started literally eating through everyone’s data plan. In theory, Wi-Fi Assist feature is supposed to “assist” your browsing when Wi-Fi becomes spotty, using Cellular Data to fill in the gaps.
But turns out, if you have a really spotty connection, this could be that even big stuff like downloads can happen over data. Worst of all, you wouldn’t even know about it.
Thankfully, in the latest OS, Apple now tells user how much data Wi-Fi Assist has used.
But still, it’s best to turn this feature off by going to “Cellular” -> “Wi-Fi Assist” inside the Settings app.
6. Disable Background App Refresh
This feature is meant to make sure that your favourite apps launch instantly. The problem is that with apps like Facebook, they can keep refreshing every once in a while, in the background, downloading new updates. Updates you aren’t even viewing.
So go to “Settings” -> “General” -> “Background App Refresh” and turn it off for apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more. Bonus points, you’ll end up saving your battery life as well.
7. Don’t Use Cellular Data For Apple Music
If you use Apple Music, you might be streaming songs on cellular, taking up a lot of the data. Go to “Music” section in the Settings app and select “Cellular Data“.
You can either turn off the data, or you can only disable either streaming or downloads over cellular.
8. Take Care Of the Mail App
Depending on how you use your Mail app, it can end up costing you a lot of data. If your work depends on it, then it’s worth it. But in some cases, it might be best to stop the Mail app from downloading stuff in the background altogether.
One way to do that is do to disable the Mail app’s Cellular Data and Background App Refresh rights, like we showed above.
Or you can go into “Settings” -> “Mail” and turn off the “Load Remote Images” option.
9. Use Chrome’s Reduce Data Mode
If you’re browsing heavy sites like The Verge, it’s possible to lose 5-13 MBs of data per page. Try using Chrome and enabling its “Reduce Data” feature from the settings. It turns the data through Google’s servers, compresses it and then sends it out to you (sites secured with HTTPS, like login pages, don’t go through Google). A similar option is Opera’s mini web browser.
10. Constantly Monitor Your Data Usage
The paranoid never die. The same applies to your data consumption. Your carrier probably has an app that will tell you just how much data you’ve consumed. Use that.
Alternatively, use a third party app like DataMan Next or smartsapp. Tell these apps your billing cycle, your data allowance, and they’ll alert you when you’re going overboard. I especially like using DataMan’s widgets to monitor my data usage.
11. Send Low Quality Images in iMessage
If you send a lot of media in iMessage, you can turn on the “Low Quality Image Mode” option from the “Messages” section in the Settings app.
This will send a compressed version of the image instead of the full resolution. This feature is only available in iOS 10.
12. Just Turn Off Cellular Data
It’s obvious but as they say, the best way to achieve your dreams is to have no ambition whatsoever. Just turn off Cellular Data option from “Cellular” section and viola, you’ll reduce your data usage to zero.
13. Reduce Data when Watching Netflix
Watching Netflix on 4G can basically destroy your data plan. But if you’ve got to do it, you really should look at this setting first. From “App Settings“, go to “Cellular data usage“. Turn off auto mode here. Then you can choose to never stream Netflix on cellular data or to only stream it in low quality.
What Do You Do?
When push comes to shove, how do you deal with a terribly tiny data pack? Share with us in the comments below.