No matter who you are, if you own an iPhone you undoubtedly hate the message you get from your cell carrier when they tell you that your data usage is at 90% for the month.
Better stop streaming all those videos and music over your phone or find a local WiFi spot quick. In this guide, I will walk you through steps on how to check data usage on iPhone 6. I will provide tips and tricks to use less data throughout the day. I will also provide information on cheap data options, borrow someone’s data, etc. There’s a lot to get into and a lot to know to successfully manage your iPhone features and settings.
If you have any recommendations or tips that aren’t in this guide please leave a comment below. Strategies and features are constantly updating and things may change with the new iOS 8 coming out shortly. Let’s hope it’s not a battery drainer like some of the previous updates.
What is iPhone 6 Data Usage?
You may be asking yourself what exactly is included in data usage and what’s not. Below is a breakdown of things that are and are not included in your cellular data.
Included in Data Usage (Not on WiFi)
- Surfing the web
- Streaming video or music
- Texting friends via WhatsApp, Kik, WeChat, Line, iMessage, etc.
- Checking Email
- Using basically any app that refreshes it’s content
Not Included in Data Usage
- Everything above is not included in your data if you’re connected to a local WiFi network while performing the task
- Regular text messages
- Voice calls
- Anything that doesn’t require you to refresh the content, such as the Calculator, notepad (although it syncs over iCloud), changing settings, etc.
Now that you have a good sense for what constitutes iPhone data on the cellular network and what doesn’t, let’s get into a bit more detail about how you can check your data.
4 Methods To Check Your Data on iPhone 6
Most people who own an iPhone have a ton of apps, with an average of 25 apps per person. That means a lot of options to use data. (Of course, if you need help with those specific apps, right here is a great website you should check out, if you haven’t already.) You can tack on the use of iCloud to sync your contacts, notes, photos, music, etc. Also, take into account time browsing the web and sending/receiving email and streaming content. You get the idea, people use a ton of data and it is used from a lot of different sources.
Therefore, you may want to just get a bulk number of how much data you’ve used or you may want to get a breakdown of what apps are using the most so you can tell which ones you should limit or cut back on.
Method 1: A Quick Call
The first method is by far the easiest and quickest. However, it will give you a very basic understanding of how much data you have used.
If you use AT&T as your data provider, all you have to do is open up the phone app, as if you were calling someone and go to the keypad. Then type in “*DATA#” without the quotes, or “*3282#” and press the green call button. You can use the screenshot below as a reference.
Right after you press the green call button you will get a grey screen that looks like the image below. Basically, it’s saying that you will get the text with all of your data use. Just tap the dismiss button.
Immediately after, you will get a text message with a bunch of information. I’m in a family plan and it gave me the following information:
- When the next billing cycle ends
- How much data I’ve personally used
- How much data the whole “family” or group has used to date
- How many messages I’ve sent
If you’re using Verizon cell network you can dial “#data” onto your phone’s keypad as if you were dialing someone’s phone number. It will then send you a message with your data usage.
If you’re using Sprint, all you have to do is dial “*4” on your iPhone keypad and press the green send button. You will be given a breakdown of your monthly data.
On T-Mobile you can enter “#web” in the phone keypad as if you were calling a friend and hit enter. That will also send you a text message.
As you can see, this method gives you some information but not a ton and certainly not a breakdown of usage per app. Next is a method that gives a bit more detail
Method 2: Download Carrier’s App
The next method is to download your personal carrier’s iPhone app. If you’re with a big cell phone company they should have their own dedicated app that will help you track data.
As you can guess, the apps for the four big cell phone companies will vary on what kind of detail they offer and how it’s broken down into various categories. Unfortunately, a lot of times the cell company just gives you bulk data as they don’t see which app you’re using when you’re using some sort of data. It’s all just charged to their cell network as general data.
However, you can get a good idea of how close you are to your limit and you can also add more data onto your plan if need be in the middle of a cycle so you don’t get hit with an overage charge.
Links to popular cell network apps:
Again, this is pretty convenient if you’re out of the house, at a friends house, concert, movies, on a road trip, etc. and you want to check if you’re getting close to your limit or not.
Method 3: Head To Cell Phone Company’s Website
This is probably the most traditional way people check how much data they use. But, in a lot of cases it can be cumbersome or inconvenient if you’re not by a computer and don’t want to look at the webpage on your iPhone.
Again, it may be hit or miss depending on what carrier you use whether your data usage is broken down into anything more than just the total amount used. Most of the times if you’re on a family plan they will break down how much each person has used and whether they’re close to the total amount.
I’m not sure for other carriers, but AT&T sends you a text message when you personally or your family plan (if you share data) gets to 65% and to 90% of your total monthly allotment.
Here are some links to popular cell phone companies:
You will have to know your login username and password to access this option. If you’ve never tried to login you may need to sign up with an account before you continue. That’s one advantage of the calling method as you don’t need to enter in any information to gain access to your personal usage.
When you login, try to find a tab that says something like “data and usage” or something along those lines. Most of the time it can be also found in your billing invoice. So check your previous invoice online or if you physically get a bill it may have the breakdown on there. However, that won’t be current as it will be for the previous billing cycle.
Method 4: iPhone Data Usage Feature
The most in depth and detailed way to check your data is through your iPhone settings and built in data tracking. I’ll walk you through how to find the breakdown and some tips on how to use it and analyze what’s using the most data so that you can cut it back to make sure you don’t go over your monthly limit.
The Downside: The unfortunate thing about this method is that you can only view the data that has been used on the cellular network. If for some reason you want to see the usage while on a local WiFi, you’re unable to see it. But if you’re trying to track whether you’ll go over your monthly limit from your cell phone plan then it’s great.
To check your current data breakdown follow these steps:
- Open the Settings app on you iPhone, the app that has gears on it.
- Fourth from the top you will see Cellular, tap on it.
- Now, you will see that you have cellular data turned off if you use it. The option to enable LTE, Data Roaming, and Personal Hotspot. If you scroll down you will see a number of data and cellular usage statistics.
You will notice a screen similar to the one below. This contains the cellular and data usage for the “current period” which some people might mistake for your billing period. Everyone’s billing cycle begins and ends on a different day, and your iPhone doesn’t know that. So the current period is simply from the last time you reset the statistics.
TIP: It’s a good idea to scroll to the bottom of the cellular settings and reset your statistics at the beginning of each billing month for your cell phone plan. This way you can track it for the given month and check back at the end of the month to make sure your cell phone company didn’t overestimate how much data you’ve used.
Another great feature is that you can see what apps specifically have used the most data. If you typically run over on data, I would suggest implementing the 20/80 or Pareto Rule, the idea that 80% of data use come from 20% of your apps. Therefore, take your top 20% apps that use the most data and reevaluate how much you need them and why they use so much data.
A lot of times there are settings within each specific app that will let you limit how much it uses while on idle. Whether it refreshes data in the background or whether it has a push notification feature. These are all things that take up vital battery life and also dramatically increase your data use.
Decrease Data Usage
Lastly, a few quick tips to decrease your data use and keep you under your limit. Implement these if you’re getting continuous warnings that you’re going to go over. Or you could always just buy more data per month but who wants to fork over more money to their cell phone company.
- Turn off push notifications for email and any other app that uses it.
- Turn off fetch for email as well. This will mean your email doesn’t automatically refresh when you’re not in the app.
- Turn off automatic app updates when you’re on a cellular network. Some app updates are 50mb, meaning if you have that option turned on it will download all 50mb on your cell network. It can add up quick!
- Try to limit how much you stream music on spotify, pandora, I heart radio, etc.
- Try to limit leaving navigation on during long road trips
- Try to limit watching videos that are streaming or TV that is streaming.
- Lastly, don’t download big attachments that are sent to you in an email. Wait until you’re on WiFi or on your computer.
Set Data Usage Alerts
If you find yourself unable to limit what data usage you’ve targeted for yourself you can always set data usage alerts that will notify you when you reach certain thresholds and therefore you can better manage expectations on your monthly data amount and what you will need each month to get though without all of those overage charges that we’re used to seeing on a monthly basis.
If you run an iPhone you can always check your data usage by heading over Settings app which is the grey gear icon app. From there you can tap on Cellular to see what your data usage is. Keep in mind that this is a running total of your cellular data usage since the last time you reset or cleared the memory. Therefore, if you’ve never done that before it will be a very high number and not helpful for your current month. If that is in fact the case then you just want to hit clear on the first day of your new billing cycle and that way you can track your data from the beginning of the month.
If you happen to be using an Android device you can also check what your data usage is and turn on alerts for yourself. Just head over to the settings app and from there you can choose Wireless & Network and hit Data Usage. This will again show you all of your cellular and wireless data usage since you last reset the counters. Android is better than iPhone in this space because all you have to do is to go the data limit setting and set the orange line to where you want to be notified if you exceed that amount. Also, you can set a red line that will cut off all cellular data usage at that point, eliminating the potential headache of occurring additional penalties and fees.
If you prefer not to use the built in data manager, no problem there either, all you have to do is download the My Data Manager app for both iPhone and Android. The app totes that it’s one of the best apps out there to save you lots of money on your cell phone bill. It has a built in data tracker to track your cellular and WiFi usage, ability to track across family shared plans, which apps are using the most of your cellular data, etc. You can also set alarms when you get to certain thresholds and track your history throughout the usage of having the app without having to clear it. This is a big positive over the built in capabilities especially on the iPhone.
I hope this has been helpful in breaking down methods to check your iPhone data usage and limit the chance of going over your monthly allotment. It’s somewhat of an art and a back and forth to figure out how much you want to pay for data, how important it is to you, and how much you’re willing to sacrifice to limit the use of your iPhone.
Let us know if you have any other tips below to help our readers get a better strategy for dealing with their data. We welcome all comments, tips, or tricks. Thanks!