How to Check Your iPhone Data Use

Woman checking iphone on busy street

Owning an iPhone means using a ton of wireless data to check email, browse the web, stream music, and use apps. Using data is easy, but every ​iPhone data plan includes a limit on the amount of data that you can use each month and going over that limit has consequences. Some phone companies substantially slow your data speed if you exceed that limit. 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. use with each major U.S. phone company that sells the iPhone. 

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 iTunes)
  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 to as much as 50GB per month​​
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 data you've used on Cricket Wireless:

  1. Your Cricket account online
  2. The My Cricket app (Download at iTunes)

Data Limit: Varies between 2.5GB and 10GB of high-speed data per month​
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 data you've used on Sprint:

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

Data Limit: Unlimited, though at least 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 23 GB of data a month, Sprint may slow your download speeds

How to Check Your Straight Talk Data Use

There are two ways to check how much 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 iTunes).

Data Limit: The first 5GB 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)​​

How to Check Your T-Mobile Data Use

There are three ways to check how much 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 iTunes).

Data Limit: Depends on your plan. Data plans range from 2GB to unlimited, though customers who exceed their data plans may have their speeds reduced until the next month​

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 Verizon app, which includes minutes, data, and text messages used (Download at iTunes)
  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 to 100GB per month​
If You Go Over Your Data Limit: $15/GB​ used until the next billing cycle

How to Check Your Virgin Mobile Data Use

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

  1. Your Virgin online account
  2. The Virgin Mobile My Account app (Download at iTunes).

Data Limit: Depends on your plan. Data amounts range from 500MB to 6GB​
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 approach 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 $10 or $15 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.
  • Diable Wi-Fi Assist: This feature of the iOS 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 -> move the Wi-Fi Assist slider to off/white.
  • Disable Automatic Store 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 Stores -> 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 need to 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.