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iPhone and iPad (Cellular Models): Understanding cellular data settings and usage

Learn more about the Cellular Data setting and usage on your iPhone and iPad (Cellular Models). Cellular data is used for data communication in cellular networks. It doesn't affect your ability to make or receive phone calls or to use Wi-Fi networks for Internet connectivity.

Understanding cellular data settings

You can temporarily turn off cellular data to prevent applications from using the cellular network connection to send or receive data. If you turn off cellular data, you will be unable to:

  • See the cellular data icons in the status bar (for example, LTE or 3G).
  • Send or receive MMS messages. You can still send and receive SMS, and send and receive iMessages (text or multimedia) when connected to a Wi-Fi network.
  • Retrieve or listen to new Visual Voicemail messages. To retrieve messages, enable cellular data.
  • Use Personal Hotspot.

To disable cellular data:

  1. From the Home screen:
    • iPhone: Choose Settings > Cellular
    • iPad: Choose Settings > Cellular Data
  2. Tap to turn off cellular data. This will disable all cellular data traffic until you enable it.

When cellular data is off, all data services use only Wi-Fi, including email, web browsing, push notifications, and other services. If cellular data is on, carrier charges may apply. For example, using certain features and services that transfer data, such as Siri and Messages, could result in charges to your data plan.

Depending on your carrier and device model, some additional options may be available:

  • Enable LTE or 3G.
  • Turn Voice Roaming on or off (CDMA): Turn Voice Roaming off to avoid charges from using other carrier's networks. When your carrier's network isn't available, iPhone won't have cellular (data or voice) service.
  • Turn Data Roaming on or off: Data Roaming permits Internet access over a cellular data network when you're in an area not covered by your carrier's network. When you're traveling, you can turn off Data Roaming to avoid roaming charges. 
  • Set when cellular data is used for apps and services. Go to Settings > Cellular, then turn cellular data on or off for any app that can use cellular data. If a setting is off, iPhone will use only Wi-Fi for that service. The iTunes settings includes both iTunes Match and automatic downloads from the iTunes Store and the App Store.

Understanding and adjusting data usage

Some applications from the App Store use the Apple Push Notification service to alert you of new data. Apps that rely extensively on push notifications (such as instant messaging or social media apps) will consume cell data. To disable push notifications, go to Settings > Notifications and set Notifications to off.

You can also enable or disable cellular data for certain iOS apps and features from this setting.

Choose Settings > Cellular to view the cellular data usage for each app. Tap to turn off cellular data for an app. Contact your carrier if you have questions about your cellular data usage.

Exchange ActiveSync accounts are handled separately from other Mail and Calendar accounts. Exchange ActiveSync accounts will continue to use cellular data even if you disable cellular data usage for Mail and Calendar. To view your Exchange ActiveSync cellular data usage, tap Settings > Cellular > System Services and view the usage next to Exchange Accounts.

Push email and over-the-air syncing

You can set apps, such as Mail, to fetch data wirelessly at specific intervals. The more frequently your device fetches email or other data, the faster data is consumed.

  • To fetch new data manually, from the Home screen choose Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data and tap to turn off Push, and then tap Manually.
  • To increase the fetch interval, choose Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data and tap Hourly.

Note: This is a global setting; it applies to all applications that do not support push services.

Last Modified: Jan 10, 2014
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  • Last Modified: Jan 10, 2014
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