No one looks forward to getting bills every month, and it's particularly painful when you open your cell phone bill only to discover you've gone over your data allowance and you owe twice as much as usual. At that point, there's nothing you can do except pay up and take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.
When you know you're going to be in one place for a while and you plan on using a lot of data while there, make sure you have Wi-Fi enabled on your iPhone. If you're out in public, chances are pretty good you will be able to find a Wi-Fi signal to use. Look for signs posted in the windows of businesses advertising hotspots or download a hotspot finder app -- Free Wi-Fi Finder by JiWire and Free Wi-Fi by YOUniversal Ideas are free options. Wifi Directory by Mike Shilinsky is available for $1.99 at the time of publication. When using your phone at home,connect to your home network and don't usecellular data. To prevent all cellular data usage, go to "Settings," followed by "General" and select "Cellular." Change the "Cellular Data" setting to "Off."
If much of your data usage comes from streaming music, movies and other media while on the go, load up your phone ahead of time. Download your favorite music and movies to the phone at home, either through iTunes on a computer or over your wireless connection on the iPhone. If podcasts are your thing, store them locally on your phone before you leave for the day. E-books aren't large files, but if you're planning to download a library, don't do it over your cellular connection. Save all updates to the system software and apps for a time when you can access a Wi-Fi connection.
While the iPhone is an amazing tool and can do a lot of things for us, it's worth noting that some of the old standbys work just as well. Instead of using a navigation app -- which tends to be data-heavy -- consider a paper map or printing the directions out before you leave. If you need to find a phone number, stop and find a phone book. In both these cases, don't forget that the iPhone is in fact a phone -- you can always call for help, which uses minutes and not data.
Monitor Your Data
If you can't avoid using cellular data, it's possible to keep track of how much you have used in the billing period. For AT&T users, dial 3282# (DATA#) and press "Call." You will receive a free text message letting you know how much data you have used to date in the cycle. For Verizon users dial #3282 (#DATA) and then press "Call." Sprint users can text "usage" to the short code 1311 to get up-to-date information. If you prefer to track data usage yourself, open "Settings" and go to "General," then "Usage" and select "Cellular Usage." There you will find a running total for both sent and received data. While these don't reset automatically, you can set a reminder to reset them every month on your billing date.
Information in this article applies to Apple iPhones running iOS 6.1.3. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.
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