Does FaceTime Use Data?

How much it uses and how to stop it from happening

A person having a FaceTime conversation on an iPhone

Caiaimage/Robert Daly/Getty Images

FaceTime is Apple’s video calling service for iOS that uses data, not cellular minutes, to make calls. FaceTime is free, because as long as you have Wi-Fi, you can make calls to other iPhone users without incurring fees on your cellular plan.

That doesn’t mean FaceTime calls won’t ever cost you, though, since without Wi-Fi, FaceTime needs to use your data plan to connect to the internet. There are a number of factors to understand about FaceTime, so let’s take a look at what you need to know about this video-calling app and service.

Understanding FaceTime Data Usage

First and foremost, rest assured that FaceTime never uses any of your cellular plan's voice minutes, no matter where or how you call. When you place a FaceTime call, it's sending and receiving voice and video information using data over the internet, similar to the way any other app on your phone exchanges data online.

And while you can place FaceTime calls using either Wi-Fi or your cellular data plan, FaceTime will always default to Wi-Fi when possible. So, if you're in a Wi-Fi coverage area and place a FaceTime call, you won’t incur any data charges. If you do make a FaceTime call when there’s no Wi-Fi, you’ll be using data, and the call will count against your plan's monthly data limit.

How Much Data Does FaceTime Use?

Actually, FaceTime doesn’t use all that much data. A FaceTime call uses, at most, about 3MB of data per minute, which adds up to about 180MB of data per hour.

Here’s one way to think about how much data that is: If you have a typical 3GB per month wireless data plan and used it exclusively for making FaceTime calls, you could video chat for almost 17 hours each month.

Of course, that’s not very realistic and simply used for comparison; most of your FaceTime calls are probably on Wi-Fi, and you tend to use wireless data for a lot of things aside from FaceTime.

Does FaceTime to Use Wi-Fi?

If you’re concerned about the possibility of FaceTime sometimes using your data plan (such as when you don’t realize you don’t have Wi-Fi), you can turn FaceTime into a Wi-Fi-only calling app.

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap Cellular.

  3. Scroll down to find FaceTime in the list and tap the toggle switch to turn it off. It should turn from Green to White.

    Cellular, FaceTime data toggle in iOS Settings

How to Track FaceTime Data Usage

If you want to keep tabs on how much cellular data FaceTime (or any other app) uses, you can do so, but it requires some manual tweaks. Your iPhone tracks data use, but it doesn’t reset the numbers each month when your cellular plan rolls over. Instead, if you’ve never manually reset your cellular statistics, it’s going to tally every minute of data since you activated the plan on your current phone.

  1. Tap Settings > Cellular.

  2. In the Cellular Data section, you can see the total data you’ve used in the current period, as well as how much data each app uses. Scroll down and find FaceTime to see its current number.

  3. Of course, you won't learn a lot about your data usage if you are only seeing the total since you bought the phone. If you’re more interested in how much data you use each month, scroll to the bottom of the page and tap Reset Statistics.

    Cellular usage stats, Reset Statistics in iOS Settings

To keep an accurate gauge of your data usage, you should do this once a month.