What Uses Data On iPhone? Using Too Much? The Fix!

Mobile data is expensive, and when an iPhone is using too much data, the bill you receive from your carrier can be shocking, to say the least. To make matters worse, carriers can’t tell you anything more than which phone is having the problem — they can’t tell you what’s causing the problem. It’s up to you to figure out why your iPhone is using so much data, and it can be very frustrating if you don’t know where to start. It can be difficult to track what uses data on iPhone, but I’m here to show you how.

In this article, I’ll help you solve the mystery of why your iPhone data usage is so high. We’ll start by covering a few important points about reducing iPhone data usage, and then we’ll move on to some of the specific problems that may be causing your iPhone to use so much data.

How Do I Know If My iPhone Is Using Mobile Data?

If your iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi, it’s not using mobile data, and anything you use your iPhone to do won’t count against your data allowance. It’s therefore important to know when your iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi and when it isn’t, and it’s easy to tell. Look in the upper left hand corner of your iPhone. If you see the Wi-Fi radio signal next to your carrier name (in the shape of a baseball diamond), you’re connected to Wi-Fi. If you see LTE, 4G, 3G, or anything else next to the name of your carrier, your iPhone is using mobile data.

Three Important iPhone Data Saving Tips You May Already Be Aware Of

iphone is connected to wifi

1. Use Wi-Fi Instead Of Data

Always use Wi-Fi when it’s available. Whether at Starbucks, McDonalds, the Library, or at home, make sure your iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi. Check out this Apple support article called iOS: Connecting to Wi-Fi for instructions about how to connect to Wi-Fi using your iPhone.

One of the great features of the iPhone is that once you’ve connected to a Wi-Fi network the first time, your iPhone remembers that connection and automatically connects to that Wi-Fi network when it’s in range. Given the choice, your iPhone should always use Wi-Fi instead of mobile data.

playing music and video on iphone

2. Limit Streaming of Video and Music

It’s important to be aware of what uses the most data when you use your iPhone. Streaming video and music typically use the most mobile data in the shortest amount of time. It’s important, therefore, to limit your use of video-streaming apps like YouTube, Hulu Plus to when you’re on Wi-Fi. Apps that stream music can also use quite a bit of data, but streaming music uses a lot less data than video. On my iPhone, I only stream video once in a while when I’m using mobile data, but I don’t worry as much about streaming music from Pandora or Spotify.

If you want to watch video on your iPhone, especially on long trips, try to download the video to your iPhone before you leave. If you rent or purchase a movie from iTunes, for example, you have the option to download it to your phone using Wi-Fi ahead of time. If you’re already on vacation and you don’t have Wi-Fi at your hotel, head to a local Starbucks and use their Wi-Fi to download the big movie file. I recently met a couple of wonderful people who were doing just that.

closing out apps on iphone

3. Close Out Your Apps

Once every day or two, close out your apps by quickly pressing the home button twice and swiping up on each app. Apps can send and receive data in the background, and that’s absolutely fine, unless something goes awry. Closing out an app clears it from the application memory and should stop that particular app from using your mobile data in the background.

Still Using Too Much Data?

If you’re already aware of these tips and you’re still using too much data, we’re going to have to move on and try to figure out which app is sending or receiving data without your permission. Issues with apps that use too much data often occur because an upload or download is failing. In other words, the app tries to send a file, and it fails, so it tries to send the file again, and it fails again, and so on and so on…

On the next page, I’ll show you how to discover which app is using so much data, so you can solve this mystery once and for all.

Pages ( 1 of 2 ): 1 2Next »

About Author

I'm a former Apple employee and the founder of Payette Forward, and I'm here to help you with your iPhone.

69
Leave a Reply

avatar
53 Comment threads
16 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
23 Comment authors
Joan WilliamsRita HumphreyTom SpearJulie BuckFrances Willems Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Maurice H
Guest
Maurice H

I am a bit of a novice at this, so please bare with me. We just got two I-Phone 5s’s from AT&T at no cost for being long time customers. They are fine phones, but I wanted to know from you experts here that if I am connected to XFinity Wi-Fi in my place will i still get charged for looking at or sending videos to our other line? I noticed that my lady used a ton the last few days, and she said it was because she played a game called “Jewel Quest.” Do you still use MB or… Read more »

Tonia Goldschwartz
Guest
Tonia Goldschwartz

Hi David,
I’m going to go thru your steps with all of our phones. But, I do have a question….in settings under cellular, scroll all the way down past all the apps that show their data usage, just under system services my iPhone shows “uninstalled apps 1.2GB”. What is this and how do shut off/take off my iPhone these “uninstalled apps”? So it no longer uses 1.2GB.
Thanks for your help!

Lyn
Guest
Lyn

My elderly mother got a crazy bill for data use on her mobile when she has never had one before, I did the investigations regarding her APPS as you suggested and found a couple of apps that appeared corrupt along with one that keep coming back trying to down load even after deleting it several times, Another game app that appeared to be using excessive data 8g in less than a month we deleted but was unable to reinstate it, so I backed up her I phone 5 to ITunes on her computer, reset it to factory settings and then… Read more »

ridgefam
Guest
ridgefam

I also have had the issue of data usage in the wee hours of the morning while my iPhone 6S is “off” and I’m asleep. It shows up on my Verizon bill just about every day. It’s nothing that drives up my usage to near my monthly allowance but it’s curious and annoying at the same time. I followed the instructions to see what apps are using data in Settings>Cellular>Use cellular data for: but I have a question about what I see. If the use under each app is the total data for the app, I cannot distinguish what is… Read more »

Ledsteplin
Guest
Ledsteplin

Closing out all apps is ridiculous. I have Maybe 3 that are the problem. The rest are fine.

What's The Difference Between iMessage and Text Messages on iPhone?
Guest

[…] data is expensive, and people ask me about it all the time. I’ve written an article about how to find out what’s using data on your iPhone, and iMessage can be a major culprit. Since iMessage can send photos, videos, and other large […]

Winona Pedigo
Guest
Winona Pedigo

In vz Protect should I allow Background App Refresh?

Dana
Guest
Dana

Hello, first of all great article. My iPhone is using too much data and I tried everything you said. I did the reset and all of the apps data usage disappeared. I get out of settings and then back in just a few seconds later and the current period in cellular data usage has increased although non off the apps have used any data (just for 2 or 3 that have used a small number of KB). I kept going out and then back into settings and the current period always increases quickly. This happened to me once a few… Read more »

Tom Taylor
Guest
Tom Taylor

Great article, but explain what you mean about checking your apps. How do I make sure my apps are not still running. You said swiping up. I am not really certain what you mean. Sorry for being so dense. I am trying to keep this iphone account as frugally as possible, I know podcast listening has been a culprit for me, and videos, so I will keep that in mind.

Also, I should have cellular off while on wifi? correct

David Payette
Guest

Hey Tom, No need to apologize and you’re not “dense” :-). The mission of this website is to help people by making technical information easy to understand. If you’re not understanding something, it’s up to me to make it clearer, and I appreciate you taking the time to let me know. To answer your question about Cellular vs. Wi-Fi: The short answer is no, you never need to turn off Cellular Data because your iPhone will automatically use Wi-Fi if it’s connected to a Wi-Fi network. In other words, it will never use Cellular Data if it has the option… Read more »

LCMS
Guest
LCMS

Thank you SO MUCH! I have searched & searched & this is the most informative & helpful information I have found! I am now well informed & know a lot more about my iPhone and where to find the info to help me keep on top of data usage and I think I have finally got to the bottom of the issues I’m having! Once again, THANK YOU!

Ronald McGulliwn
Guest
Ronald McGulliwn

Thank you very much for the tips. I also discovered that the App Store is using a lot of my cellular/mobile data without my permission.

That’s the reason why I am using the app DataRocket to monitor my data usage. I just need to pull down the Notification Center to see how I am doing. There is also the option to receive alerts that warn you if you are going to exceed your allowance.

Diana Chiechi
Guest
Diana Chiechi

I have the same problem. My iPhone 6 is using data while I am asleep at home? How can I resolve this problem? It never happened with my iPhone 4S.

terry
Guest
terry

I have been using pandora which uses a lot of data. If I buy an album from itunes and listen to it when I am out walking will I use data

David Payette
Guest

Hi AB, Sorry to hear you’re having that problem with your iPhone. I’m sure we can get to the bottom of this if you haven’t already. What happens when you call your iPhone from another phone? Does it ring or does it go straight to voicemail? This could be a software problem, too. Try turning your phone off and back on again. The Phone app on your iPhone is just like any other – it is susceptible to glitches, although they seem to happen very infrequently compared to other apps I’ve seen. I apologize for taking a while to get… Read more »

Gillian Russell
Guest
Gillian Russell

David
Thanks for this article its very useful. I just wonder if you have any more information on specific apps and exactly how much cellular data they actually use. For example We-Chat how much cellular data does it use to send a txt, have a voice call or send a photo. One last question, if you left your txt’s, photos etc on the We-chat app would that use more cellular data as the app is working harder to open each time?? Any info would be welcomed.

Many thanks
Gillian

David Payette
Guest

Dear Gillian, Thanks for reading and for the excellent question. I’m not familiar with We-Chat, but there is a utility in Settings that allows you to check how much data each specific app is using. I explain exactly how to do that in the second page of this article – here’s a link: https://www.payetteforward.com/what-uses-data-on-iphone-using-too-much-the-fix/2/ As I said, I’m not familiar with We-Chat or the way that app is designed to store data, but I would guess that once you view a photo or text message using We-Chat, that photo or text message is stored on your iPhone so it doesn’t… Read more »

dlwhitester
Guest
dlwhitester

David, This article had some very helpful tips! Thanks! I do want to clarify one point you mention – if you’re connected to WiFi you’re not using mobile data. There seems to be a caveat here that my wife and I recently learned. Even when our iPhone 5s’s are connected to our home WiFi they are still using Cellular data (even when we’re asleep). Our phones are sending push notifications at all hours of the night and nearly maxing out our 2GB data plan. From the little bit of research I’ve done it has something to do with the phone… Read more »