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When determining what's eating up my cellular data I look at data usage in the settings app. There the biggest consumer by far is "system services" and inside that item "safari services" is responsible for 95% of all usage.

This doesn't really tell me anything useful. What is Safari services? Who is it providing services for? Safari? 3rd party apps? Me? I assume it's not to me or Safari since then I don't see why the data isn't just listed under the Safari app directly, and the same thing if it's to 3rd party apps. If neither then I don't see why it's such a big consumer of data to begin with.

How do I cut down on its data consumption?

iOS 14.4 on iPhone 8

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According to Apple, Safari Services is a framework that application developers can utilize to integrate Safari behaviors and features into their applications. For example, when you open a link in Discord (a messaging app), it opens in a mini version of Safari, from which you can quickly return to your chat, or open the link in the 'full version' of Safari.

Website open in Discord

You might be seeing excessive data usage if you frequently open data-heavy websites like YouTube through other apps like Twitter, for example. I should note, however, that I tested this on my phone, running iOS 14.5 (18E5199a) and could not find the mentioned "Safari Services" category; instead, I see the relevant data usage attributed to Safari itself. It's possible that there has been a recent change regarding this behavior.

Settings app showing data usage from Safari app

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  • I still have Safari Services listed under System Services in 14.5. I'm starting to suspect it has to do with tabs syncing. I don't think this user-facing term corresponds to what Apple markets to developers with the same words, among other reasons because, just as you say, there's a more natural place to report that sort of consumption already: next to the respective app. I'll shut off sync and see what happens... – Andreas Apr 30 at 20:41
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If you go to settings, try the following set up and see if it works.

Settings->Safari

  1. General

Block Pop-ups Yes

  1. Privacy & Security

Prevent Cross-Site Tracking Yes

Fraudulent Website Warning Yes

Then clear all your History and Website Data

  1. Settings for Website

Set Ask option fro Camera, Microphone and Location.

  1. Reading List

Automatically save Offline No

I Have this main settings and don't experience any issues.

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