If you are not on an unlimited cellular or broadband connection, using a slow connection, or just want to limit the amount of data that your device consumes, iOS has a hidden feature to help you do just that.
The feature, called Low Data Mode, and there’s a separate setting for both cellular data and your separate Wi-Fi connections.
Here’s how it works.
According to Apple, the way Low Data Mode works is dependent on the apps in question, and that you should expect the following:
- Apps might stop using network data when you’re not actively using them.
- Background App Refresh is turned off.
- The quality of streaming content might be reduced.
- Automatic downloads and backups are turned off.
- Services such as iCloud Photos pause updates.
It’s worth noting that third-party apps such as Google Chrome or the YouTube app will not change how much data it downloads as a result of this setting, expect that background refresh will be disabled.
Apple’s own apps also respond to being restricted to Low Data Mode as follows:
- App Store: Video autoplay, automatic updates, and automatic downloads are turned off.
- Music: Automatic downloads and high-quality streaming are turned off.
- Podcasts: The frequency of feed updates is limited, and episodes are downloaded only on Wi-Fi.
- News: Article prefetching is turned off.
- iCloud: Updates are paused, and automatic backups and iCloud Photos updates are turned off.
- FaceTime: Video bitrate is optimized for lower bandwidth.
If that feels like an OK compromise to you, here’s how you activate the feature.
Go to Settings > Wi-Fi and from the list find the relevant Wi-Fi connection, and then tap on the “i” to bring up the information screen about the connection. From there, flick the switch on Low Data Mode.
Remember that each Wi-Fi connection you use will have its own independent Low Data Mode setting, so setting it for one does not influence another.
Go to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options and flip the switch on Low Data Mode.
If you have a dual-SIM iPhone, you have independent control over each data plan.