What Is Low Data Mode on iPhone, and How Do You Use It?

telecommunication tower transmitting digits signals of cellular mobile 5g 4g 3g. Simulated radio waves

What Is Low Data Mode on iPhone, and How Do You Use It?

Key Points

  • Low Data Mode on iPhone helps conserve data by restricting unnecessary background tasks and reducing the quality of streaming content.
  • The amount of data saved with Low Data Mode varies depending on usage, but it can save around 10-20% of app data usage and significantly reduce data usage for streaming videos and music.
  • To use Low Data Mode on iPhone, open the Settings app, tap on Cellular, select Cellular Data Options, and toggle the Low Data Mode switch.
  • Pros of Low Data Mode include saving cellular data, improving performance and battery life, and faster performance in areas with weak signal, while cons include potential limitations on app functionality and the need to manually toggle the setting.

Tired of your phone using up all your data before the month’s end? Or, sick of your phone running slower than it should be? Sounds like Low Data Mode on the iPhone might be the trick. This iPhone setting helps conserve data. It can be a great thing for those who need to cut back on data usage. But, it can also be an inconvenience for those who want to unlock the full potential of their iPhone. Here’s what you need to know about Low Data Mode on the iPhone — including how it works, how much it saves, and how to adjust the setting.

Low Data Mode Explained

5G network
Low Data Mode on the iPhone can be a huge help or a major hindrance.


The iPhone’s Low Data Mode setting helps you conserve your cellular data usage when you need it most. While it really comes in handy for those with limited data allotments each month, it’s not exclusively for people without unlimited data. It can also prove incredibly useful in areas with limited or slow coverage. When you enable Low Data Mode on your iPhone, your phone effectively restricts any and all unnecessary background tasks. 

This includes not allowing automatic app updates, reducing background refreshes, not allowing automatic downloads for email attachments, and reducing the quality of streaming content. Additionally, Low Data Mode throttles iCloud photo quality, holds off on iCloud backups, and cuts down on FaceTime call quality. Looking at all these features collectively, it’s clear this feature helps you use less data across the board. 

This way, you can save your data for when you really need it. Alternatively, you can speed up a laggy connection in slow spots by restricting where your iPhone decides to send your limited data. It’s an incredibly helpful feature that ensures your phone doesn’t guzzle all your data — helping you cut down on any unnecessary charges or fees on your monthly bill. It doesn’t block all data, just the unnecessary expenditures.

How Much Data Does Low Data Mode Save?

hands holding a red iPhone XR with the homescreen displayed.
The amount of data saved by Low Data Mode can vary by a lot.


Now that you understand a little more about what Low Data Mode on iPhone actually is, let’s ponder another question: How much data does this setting really save you? As it turns out, this feature can save varying amounts of data depending on how you use your iPhone. It’s not a fixed number. In other words, the more you use your phone, the more data will need to be saved. The less you use your phone, the less data will need to be saved.

With that being said, here are some basic metrics for Low Data Mode on the iPhone. On the whole, Low Data Mode limits the data usage of your apps by around 10-20%. So, if an app normally uses 100MB with Low Data Mode off, it might use 10-20MB less with the feature switched on. Preventing automatic app updates helps contribute to these savings, as it cuts down on the amount of data those updates would have consumed. This could potentially save you several gigabytes in all.

Another area where the data savings really add up? Streaming videos and music. Low Data Mode throttles your audio and video quality, potentially saving you hundreds of megabytes. For example, streaming an hour of HD video might use around 1GB, but with the feature enabled, it could need as little as 300-400MB. Combine this with the data being saved in other areas, and it’s clear Low Data Mode is genuinely an effective way to save data.

How to Use Low Data Mode on iPhone

Trying to conserve data and interested in learning how to activate Low Data Mode on your iPhone? Or, perhaps you’re no longer trying to save data and looking to turn off Low Data Mode? Don’t worry. Adjusting this setting is quick, easy, and requires very little effort on your part. Let’s walk you through the steps required to toggle the feature. Following along with the steps below, you’ll be able to turn it on or off as you see fit. Now, here’s how to use Low Data Mode on an iPhone.

Step One: Open Settings

Settings app highlighted on iPhone screen.
Open the Settings app to turn Low Data Mode on or off.


First, open the Settings app. You should find it on your home screen by default. It’s gray and shaped like a gear.

Step Two: Tap Cellular

Cellular settings highlighted in Settings app on iPhone.
Tap “Cellular” inside the Settings app.


Next, scroll down through the settings until you see a tab labeled “Cellular.” It features a green icon of a cell tower with signal waves. Tap it once you’ve found it.

Step Three: Select Cellular Data Options

Cellular Data Options highlighted in Cellular settings on iPhone.
Choose “Cellular Data Options” from the list of cellular settings.


From your cellular settings, find the tab that reads “Cellular Data Options.” You may also see a label that says “Roaming On” or “Roaming Off,” as seen in the picture above. Tap this to find more advanced cellular settings, including Low Data Mode.

Step Four: Toggle Low Data Mode

Cellular Data Options inside the Settings app on iPhone.
Turn Low Data Mode on or off using the switch.


Finally, look for the switch that says “Low Data Mode.” Toggle the switch on or off, depending on which setting you prefer. Switch it to the left to turn the setting off. Or, switch it to the right to activate Low Data Mode on your iPhone.

Low Data Mode Pros and Cons

Pros of Low Data ModeCons of Low Data Mode
Low Data Mode helps save cellular data, reducing the risk of exceeding monthly limits.Some apps may not work as efficiently in Low Data Mode.
Limits apps from using data in the background, improving performance and saving battery.Apps will not update automatically, leaving you at risking of missing important improvements.
The setting allows you to control when apps and iOS updates are downloaded.Videos and photos will load in lower quality in Low Data Mode.
Low Data Mode can help your phone work faster in areas with weak signal.The setting must be turned on or off manually, which can be a hassle.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Low Data Mode on iPhone?

Low Data Mode is a feature on iPhones that helps reduce your cellular data usage by limiting background tasks and optimizing data consumption. It’s designed to save data and extend the limits of your data plan for those with limited monthly data. It’s also useful in areas with weak cell coverage, as it limits what apps and features get the most data.

How do I turn on Low Data Mode?

To activate Low Data Mode, go to your iPhone’s “Settings” app, tap “Cellular,” and then toggle on “Low Data Mode” in the Cellular Data Options section. To turn the feature off, simply toggle the switch back to the left.

Does Low Data Mode affect Wi-Fi usage?

No, Low Data Mode does not impact your Wi-Fi signal. The feature specifically impacts your cellular data connection. When connected to Wi-Fi, the setting does not apply, allowing you to use your home or public Wi-Fi network as usual without interruption or throttling.

Do apps work differently in Low Data Mode?

Many apps that rely on background data usage — such as email, social media apps, and app updates — will operate with reduced data in Low Data Mode. Core functions like maps and web browsing remain relatively unchanged, but they may use less data overall.

Is Low Data Mode worth using if I have an unlimited data plan?

Even with an unlimited data plan, Low Data Mode can be extremely beneficial. It reduces unnecessary background data usage, which can improve battery life and help you be more efficient in areas with limited signal strength.

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