Let’s face it, cellular contracts in Canada aren’t cheap.  If you didn’t already know, I moved to Canada from England back in 2011.  One of the things that shocked us was the price of cellular contracts here in Canada.   Seven years later, nothing seems to be improving – UK rates are dropping and Canadian rates seem to be just getting higher?

I understand that Canada is a lot bigger than England with a lot fewer people.   This makes it much more expensive to cover the country with cellular reception, with fewer customers paying to cover the cost. However, you can’t help feeling that the lack of competition and the collusion between the carriers here is holding back cheaper prices.

Anyway, with that rant out of the way, I’m going to give you some tips on how you can reduce your monthly data usage and hopefully keep your bills down.    The tips are specific to iPhone/iPad.   Sorry Android users, but as you know by now, I’m far more familiar with the iOS platform running on these devices!

So, let’s get on with the tips.


See which apps are using cellular data

To begin with, you might want to see if any apps are using up all of your cellular data. You can get a breakdown of how much each app is using by going to the following; Settings -> Cellular Data.   At the bottom of this screen, you’ll see a list of all the apps which are using data, along with the amount they’ve used.   Next to each app is a button to enable/disable the use of cellular data.   If you turn this off for an app, it’ll still work while on your home/office Wireless network, but it won’t do anything while out of the house.   You might be surprised looking at this screen at just how much some of your apps are using!


Disable Auto-Play videos in Facebook

One of the quickest ways to burn through your monthly data allowance is by streaming video.   Video consumes a lot of data very quickly, and it’s becoming more widespread online.   Take Facebook as an example.   Scroll through your timeline and look at how many posts are videos now.   I post videos myself as they tend to be really popular and soon spread.   This is great if you’re on a computer, but as you’re scrolling through on an iPhone, all of these videos are eating into your data whether you want to watch them or not.   Facebook auto-plays the videos to catch your attention.   You can disable this though by going into the app settings for Facebook and turning this feature off.   You’ll still see the video posts in your timeline, but instead of auto-playing as you scroll through, you’ll have to press the play button to start them.


Switch off cellular data for the App Store

One of the biggest downloads you’ll do on an iPhone or iPad is apps. Apps can be several hundreds of Megabytes, especially games with lots of fancy graphics.  Each app download or update can take a fairly large chunk of your monthly data allowance.   You can however tell the app store to only download/update apps when connected to Wifi so it doesn’t use your data.   Go to Settings -> iTunes & App Stores and look for a setting “Use Cellular Data”.   Turn this off.   Don’t worry – you can always turn it back on if you’re out of the house and really need to download an app.


Disable Background App Refresh

Just because an app isn’t on the screen, doesn’t mean it isn’t using data. Think about your mail app for example – it’s checking for new emails even when it’s not on the screen.  The same goes for any app, however you can pick and choose which get to run in the background.   Under Settings -> General ->Background App Refresh, you can either turn off all apps, or turn off individual ones.   So, for example, you probably want your mail app to continue checking for new emails – but does Facebook need to be running when you’re not looking at it?


Wi-Fi Assist

This feature was added to iOS to step in when your Wi-Fi reception is poor.  It’ll fall back on cellular if it’s having trouble with Wi-Fi, so even though your phone is showing as connected to your wireless network, it might be still using your cellular data.   You can find the setting for this under “Cellular”, Wi-Fi Assist.


So, hopefully these tips will help you save some of that precious monthly data for times when you need it the most!