How to check which apps are using the most data on an iPhone

You undoubtedly have dozens (or even hundreds) of apps running on your smartphone, and it’s important that you know what these apps are up to. Part of this involves keeping track of how much communication each app does with the outside world. We’ve written before about how to monitor data usage on an Android device, and here we’re going to focus on iPhones.

There are a number of reasons to check how much data your phone is using. First, while unlimited data plans are much more widespread than they used to be, keep in mind that these plans often apply speed limits if you go over a certain point each month. And if you’re on a limited plan and apps exceed your data limit while you’re away from Wi-Fi, it could cost you money, especially if you’re abroad.

Then there’s the privacy aspect: if you dig into your phone’s data usage numbers, you’ll notice that some apps upload and download a lot more than they should based on their functionality. It is another method of detecting suspicious app activity that requires more investigation.

Before delving into these settings, we recommend checking the details of your data plan so you know what your limits are. This usually happens on the internet or via an app. You should be able to find this out from your provider. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile all have online FAQ pages to help you.

To know how much data your apps have used on iOS, open Settings and tap Mobile. At the very top you have a toggle switch that allows you to turn mobile data on or off. Turn this off and apps won’t be able to go online at all unless you’re connected to Wi-Fi. (Calling and texting still works.)

  • Crane Mobile data options turn Data roaming on or off. This will affect access to mobile data if you are outside your carrier’s network (usually if you are abroad).
  • Back on the Mobile screen, scroll down to see how much mobile data and roaming data you have used in the “current period” (i.e. since you last manually reset these statistics).
  • Next to each installed app is how much data it has uploaded or downloaded in the current period. You will notice that the apps that used the most data will be at the top. Use the toggle switches on the right to block access to mobile data for specific apps.
  • Crane System services to see data usage for the iOS system, including activities such as push notifications and software updates.

Scroll all the way down the list of apps and you’ll see when these data usage statistics were last reset. To reset them (perhaps to monitor usage for a day or a week), tap Reset statistics.

In addition to blocking individual app access to mobile data or disabling it completely, there’s another option on iOS you can use to limit data usage while you’re away from Wi-Fi: Low Data Mode.

Apple says this will pause automatic updates and “background tasks” while you’re away from Wi-Fi, though it doesn’t elaborate too much on what those background tasks are. One trade-off specifically mentioned is a lower bitrate on FaceTime calls.

  • From iOS Settings, tap Mobile and then Mobile data options.
  • Crane Data mode to find the Low data mode choice.

You can see the options below Low data mode will vary depending on your network. For example, you might see an option to Allow More Data on 5G, which means your iPhone will use a faster 5G connection over Wi-Fi, if it’s available.

Don’t forget that there’s always an airplane mode if you want to be absolutely sure that apps aren’t transferring data over cellular networks or Wi-Fi. Swiping down from the top right corner of the screen reveals the Control Center and you can then tap the airplane icon to turn airplane mode on or off.

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