How to Easily Check Your iPhone Data Usage

Woman checking iphone on busy street

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Owning an iPhone means using a ton of wireless data to check email, browse the web, stream music, and use apps. Using data is effortless, but every ​iPhone data plan includes some kind of limit on the amount of data that you can use each month. Going over that limit has consequences. Some phone companies substantially slow your data speed if you exceed the limit (a technique called "throttling"), whole others charge an overage fee.

You can try to avoid download speed throttling or extra charges by checking your iPhone data use. How you do that depends on what phone company you use. Here are instructions for checking your data usage for the major U.S. phone companies that offers the iPhone, as well as some of the pay-as-you-go carriers. 

How to Check Your AT&T Data Use

There are three ways to check how much data you've used on AT&T:

  1. Your AT&T account online
  2. The AT&T app, which includes data, voice, and text usage (Download at the App Store)
  3. In the Phone app, call *DATA# and a text message with your current data use will be sent to you.

Data Limit: Varies depending on your monthly plan. Data plans range from 300MB per month up to unlimited data
If You Go Over Your Data Limit: Data speeds are reduced to 128 kbps until the end of the current billing period

How to Check Your Cricket Wireless Data Use

There are two ways to check how much iPhone data you've used on Cricket Wireless:

Data Limit: Starts as low as 2.5GB per month and goes up to unlimited monthly data​
If You Go Over Your Data Limit: Data speeds are reduced to 128 kbps until the end of the current billing period​​

How to Check Your Sprint Data Use

There are three ways to check how much iPhone data you've used on Sprint:

  1. Your Sprint online account
  2. The My Sprint Mobile app, which includes all usage details (Download at the App Store)
  3. Call *4 and the follow the menus.

Data Limit: Unlimited, though on some plans Sprint throttles all video, music, and game streaming to HD quality​​
If You Go Over Your Data Limit: Because its plans are unlimited, there is no overage. However, if you use more than 50 GB of data a month, Sprint may slow your download speeds in some cases

How to Check Your Straight Talk Data Use

There are two ways to check how much iPhone data you've used on Straight Talk:

  1. Text the word usage to 611611 and you'll get a text back with your current use
  2. The Straight Talk My Account app (Download at the App Store).

Data Limit: The first 5GB you use per month is at high speed
If You Go Over Your Data Limit: Speeds are reduced to 2G rates (which is slower than the original iPhone)​​. In some extreme cases, very heavy data users have even been blocked from using data

How to Check Your T-Mobile Data Use

There are three ways to check how much iPhone data you've used on T-Mobile:

  1. Your T-Mobile account online
  2. In the Phone app, call #932#
  3. Use the T-Mobile app (Download at the App Store).

Data Limit: Depends on your plan. Data plans range from 2GB to unlimited

If You Go Over Your Data Limit: Customers who exceed their data plans, over 50GB of data, may have their speeds reduced until the next month​ in some cases

How to Check Your Verizon Data Use

There are three ways to check how much data you've used on Verizon:

  1. Your Verizon account online
  2. The My Verizon app, which includes minutes, data, and text messages used (Download at the App Store)
  3. In the Phone app, call #data and you get a text with usage details.

Data Limit:​ ​Depends on your rate plan. Available data amounts range from 1GB per month to unlimited data
If You Go Over Your Data Limit: Data limits differ per plan, but if you exceed them expect that your speed will be reduced for the remainder of the month

How to Check Your Virgin Mobile Data Use

There are two ways to check how much iPhone data you've used on Virgin:

  1. Your Virgin online account
  2. The Virgin Mobile Account app (Download at the App Store).

Data Limit: Depends on your plan. Data amounts range from 500MB to unlimited data each month
If You Go Over Your Data Limit: If you exceed your monthly data limit, your download speed will be reduced to 2G speeds until the next billing period

How To Save Data When You're Close To Your Limit​

Most carriers send a warning when you near your data limit. If you're close to hitting your data limit, what you should do depends on where you are in the month. If you're close to the end of the month, there's not too much to worry about. Worst-case scenario, you'll pay a few dollars extra or have slower data for a short time. If you're close to the beginning of the month, call your phone company to see about upgrading your plan.

You can also try the following tips:

  • Disable cellular data by app: The iPhone lets you control which apps can use data and which only work when your phone is connected to Wi-Fi. Disable data-hogging apps by going to Settings > Cellular > in the Cellular Data section, move the slider to off/white for apps you want to restrict.
  • Disable all cellular data:​ You can also disable all cellular data, while keeping your ability to use the phone and send and receive texts.​ Go to Settings > Cellular >​ move the Cellular Data slider to off/white.
  • Disable Wi-Fi Assist: This feature of iOS 9 and up automatically switches to cellular data when Wi-Fi isn't working well. It's a nice feature, but it also uses your data. Turn it off in Settings > Cellular > scroll to the very bottom and move the Wi-Fi Assist slider to off/white.
  • Disable Automatic Downloads: If you've got multiple iOS devices, you may have them set up to automatically download new apps and media on all devices when you download to one. It's great to keep your devices in sync, but it can eat up cellular data. Restrict these downloads to Wi-Fi in Settings > iTunes & App Store > move the Use Cellular Data slider to off/white. 
  • Limit Background App Refresh to Wi-Fi: Another useful feature of the iOS, Background App Refresh updates your apps even when you're not using them so they have the latest data the next time you open them. Force these updates to only happen over Wi-Fi by going to Settings > General -> Background App Refresh > tap Background App Refresh > tap Wi-Fi.

If you find yourself regularly bumping up against your data limit, you should switch to a plan that offers more data. You should be able to do that from any of the apps or online accounts already mentioned in this article.

How to Check Data Use On Your Phone

Your iPhone also offers a built-in tool to track your data usage, but it has some major limitations. To find the tool:

  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Tap Cellular.
  3. In the Cellular Data section (or Cellular Data Usage on some older versions of iOS), you'll see your data use for the Current Period.

That may seem useful, but the current period is not a billing period. Instead, the current period is however long it's been since you last reset your data stats (there's an option to Reset Statistics at the very bottom of the screen). Beneath the Reset Statistics option is the date you last reset the stats. The Current Period data use is all the data you used since that date. 

You can reset the stats at the start of every monthly billing period to track your data, but there's no way to do that automatically. You'll need to know when your billing period starts and reset it manually and that can he hard to remember to do. It's probably easier just to use one of the other options detailed earlier in the article.