How to check your phone data usage

If you’ve ever used more smartphone data than you should have, you’ll know how expensive it can be when the bill comes in.

Recently, I was talking to my dad, who had no idea how much data he was using and was so worried about going over his limit – as he had done in the past – that he now has a phone contract with an unnecessary amount of data included.

Now that I’ve showed him how to monitor his data usage, he can unload that contract and stop being overcharged for phone data he simply won’t use.

So, here’s that simple tip to help you track your usage and prevent bill shock.

iPhone (iOS7 and above)
Go to ‘Mobile’ or ‘Cellular’ then scroll down to ‘Mobile Data’ see your total current period usage. This number totals all of your usage since you last reset your usage statistics.

You can also scroll down further to see how much data has been used on apps since you last reset your usage

Each time you receive your bill, it’s a good idea to reset your statistics so you can keep track of how much data you use within your current billing period. To do this, scroll to the bottom of the screen and tap ‘Reset Statistics’.

The only way you can control your data usage on an iPhone is to note the apps that use a lot of data and limit them to wifi use only.

Android (Android 4.0 and above)
To see the data you’ve used in your current billing period, go to settings and tap on ‘Data usage’. You can sync your data usage to your billing cycle by changing the dates in ‘Data usage cycle’.

You can also set a limit to your data usage by entering your contracted data amount in the ‘Set mobile data limit’ area. This means that if your contract includes 4GB of data a month, you could set your limit to 3.5GB (so you have a little spare in case of emergency). Then, when you hit the limit, you’ll only be able to use wifi, but won’t cop a nasty phone bill for exceeding your data allowance.

If you have a technology question for us, send it to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it.

Related articles:
Avoiding mobile phone bill shock
Telstra ends third-party bill shock
Travel SOS: No more bill shock

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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