If you use an iPhone or iPad (Wi-Fi + Cellular) on the go, you probably rely on cellular data for Internet access while away from your home or office. It’s easy to turn cellular data on or off quickly to troubleshoot or save money on your cell bill. Here’s how.
What Is Cellular Data?
Cellular data is a term that means connecting to the Internet using a cellular phone network. That means you can access the Internet on the go, away from Wi-Fi. All iPhone models support cellular data, and certain models of iPad labeled “Wi-Fi + Cellular” support it as well.
Why Turn Cellular Data Off?
Having cellular data available is almost always a good thing, but there are some times when you may want to temporarily turn it off.
One reason to disable cellular data is that many mobile phone plans charge extra for cellular data access, and many measure how much data you use. To save money on your bill, you can turn off cellular data so you don’t accumulate extra charges. (You can also configure which apps can use cellular data and keep track of how much data you use.)
If the Wi-Fi signal you frequently use is poor in a certain location, your phone may automatically switch to cellular data for Internet access, and you may not notice, leading to a much higher phone bill than you expected.
For this same reason, some people need to turn off Cellular Data to troubleshoot Wi-Fi connections. With cellular data turned off, you can measure Wi-Fi speed and connectivity accurately, knowing for certain that the device is getting all of its data from Wi-Fi and not a cellular network.
Enable or Disable Cellular Data Using Control Center
The quickest way to turn on or turn off cellular data is by using Control Center.
Control Center is a collection of shortcuts to commonly used tasks, such as adjusting screen brightness, volume, song playback, and more. It also serves as a way to quickly launch features, such as turning on the flashlight or taking a photo.
First, launch Control Center. Here’s how.
- iPhone X or newer/iPad running iOS 12 or later: Swipe down from the top right of the screen.
- iPhone 8 or earlier/iPad running iOS 11 or earlier: Swipe up from the bottom of the screen. (Control Center first appeared in iOS 7.)
Once you do that, Control Center will pop up. Find the circular icon that looks like an antenna with radio waves around it. That is the cellular data icon.
- If the cellular data icon is green, that means cellular data is turned on.
- If the cellular data icon is gray, it means that cellular data is turned off.
Tap on the icon to turn cellular data on or off, depending on how you’d like it.
With cellular data turned off, your iPhone or iPad must use Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet.
You can also toggle Airplane Mode (the circular icon with the airplane inside) to turn off cellular data from Control Center. Note that Airplane mode also disables Wi-Fi at the same time, although you can turn Wi-FI back on after enabling Airplane mode.
Enable or Disable Cellular Data Using the Settings App
Another way to turn on or turn off cellular data is by using Apple’s Settings app, which can usually be found on your Home screen. Launch it by tapping on the gray gear icon.
Once in Settings, find the “Cellular” option and tap on it.
In the Cellular menu, locate the “Cellular Data” switch at the top. Tap on the switch to toggle it on or off. When cellular data is enabled, the switch will slide to the right and appear green.
You can also control roaming data from here. Tap “Cellular Data Options” to find these settings. For example, you could disable cellular data roaming when traveling internationally to protect yourself from extra fees, depending on your cellular plan.
If you turned off Cellular data, remember to turn it back on again (by repeating the steps above) when going out away from Wi-Fi. Otherwise, some Internet-connected apps, such as Messages and Mail, may not work as expected.