3 Tips to Reduce High Cellular Data Usage on iPhone with iOS 9

3 Tips to Reduce High Cellular Data Usage on iPhone with iOS 9

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While some users have issues with mobile data not working at all in iOS 9 with certain apps, another group of iPhone users are experiencing the opposite problem, with excessive mobile data usage after updating their iPhones to iOS 9. Since most users don’t have unlimited data plans, heavy mobile data usage can lead to extra costs pretty quickly, but luckily there are some simple tweaks that can be made to help fix the hungry mobile data appetite of iOS 9 on iPhones.

If you are experiencing abnormally high mobile data usage after updating to iOS 9, you can fix it by making some changes as described below.

1: Turn off Wi-Fi Assist to reduce mobile data usage

Wi-Fi Assist automatically uses cellular data when a Wi-Fi connection is poor, even if the iPhone is connected to a local wireless network. This is great because your internet experience is more reliable, but it’s not that great because it means you’ll no doubt use more cellular data if you’re on a rough Wi-Fi network. The solution is to disable this:

  1. Open the Settings app and go to “Mobile”
  2. Scroll all the way down and find “Wi-Fi Assist” and turn it OFF

Turn off Wi-Fi Assist to reduce cellular data usage on iPhone

Only Wi-Fi Assist is attributed to the unusually heavy mobile data usage with iOS 9, but it is by no means the only culprit.

2: Turn off iCloud Drive mobile data usage

iCloud Drive is a really great addition to iOS 9, but if you use it often and move a bunch of files back and forth, it can be pretty hungry. Turning this off helps:

  1. Go to the Settings app and choose “iCloud”
  2. Go to “iCloud Drive” and turn “Use Mobile Data” to OFF

Turn off the use of iCloud mobile data

Turning this off means that you need to connect to a Wi-Fi network to transfer files and data between iPhone and iCloud Drive.

3: Disable Background App Refresh to stop using background mobile data

Background App Refresh is one feature that’s theoretically useful because it allows apps to update themselves in the background when they’re not running, similar to how applications work on a desktop computer like OS X or Windows. But in practice, this often leads to excessive battery consumption, and if the background apps are using data, you will find that they can also be hungry for mobile data plans. Just turn this off:

  1. Open the Settings app and go to ‘General’ followed by ‘Refresh apps in background’
  2. Set the top switch to the OFF position (this will affect all apps below, no need to change them individually)

Turn off background app refresh to help save cellular data on iPhone

Less data usage, and you may also find that your iPhone with iOS 9 performs faster and has better battery life too. Not exactly a bad trade-off!

Additional Tips for reducing high mobile data usage

You can go further if you really want to diet your mobile data usage by making further adjustments:

  • Prevent certain apps from having cellular data access at all on iPhone, useful if one or two specific apps are the identified data hog
  • Turn off cellular data on iPhone completely if you are really in trouble and all over your mobile plan limit
  • Change the mobile data speed from LTE to 3G or 2G Edge to use less data by downloading things more slowly mobile, apply some kind of speed limit (note that there is no data limit, it is just slower)
  • Turn off automatic app updates and downloads in iOS

All these tips should really help reduce data usage if you’ve found it to be a bit over the top since the update to iOS 9.

The amount of cellular data usage seems to vary by iPhone user, the networks they use, the apps they have, and what they do with their iPhone in general. For an example of higher cellular data usage, here’s my own data plan from Saturday morning through Monday night where 1.3 GB of data was consumed and did nothing out of the ordinary, just normal stuff on the iPhone 6S. But because of the Wi-Fi Assist feature, a good amount of that 1.3 GB of data was transferred to the cellular connection when the Wi-Fi connection was less suitable.

High mobile data usage demonstrated on iPhone

That’s pretty heavy for use for just under a four-day period, and for users on a regular cellular plan, they can quickly eat up their allotment. If you still have a coveted and old unlimited data plan like me, of course you don’t care, so let your iPhone eat data like there’s no tomorrow if you want. But for most users with metered data plans, making some changes can avoid additional costs and unexpected cell depletion phone accounts.

Do you know of any other solutions to fix the mobile data consumption issue with iOS 9? Let us know in the comments!

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3 Tips to Reduce High Cellular Data Usage on iPhone with iOS 9: FAQ

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The time to complete the 3 Tips to Reduce High Cellular Data Usage on iPhone with iOS 9 tutorial is 10+ minutes.

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mac OS


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