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Every month I notice that iOS' 'System Services' uses a large amount of my limited mobile data. The phone spends most of its time connected to a Wifi signal and I therefore don't think its unreasonable to want to reserve mobile data for truly mobile tasks (when I'm not on a Wifi signal). I have resorted to turning off my mobile data all together and then only turning it on when I want to use a service like maps. This is an extreme and unsatisfactory approach and even with this approach when I have mobile data active for several hours (for example whilst travelling so that I can use a map application) then iOS still seems to use the mobile data for large downloads.

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These should not be system software updates because I have turned them off:

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But there are other software updates (maybe still system software updates?) that make up most of the data used:

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I was going to try turning off the App Store's mobile data access but this only shows as 3.6 Mb and not the 352 Mb of Software Updates under the System Services page. Is there a way to configure / use iOS to make sure it uses Wifi for its software updates and does not squander mobile data on these software updates that could easily wait an hour or two until I'm back on Wifi?

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  • Have you looked at Settings > Cellular > Cellular data options > and set Data Roaming off and Data Mode to "Low Data Mode." That should substantially reduce usage of mobile data. Aug 5, 2023 at 22:55
  • As Steve says. So you don’t need to turn off any features but your iPad/iphone will do some things only on WiFi. You can do the same for many apps. Like playing Netflix movies on WiFi only and not allowing mobile data use.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 6, 2023 at 10:25
  • Thanks @SteveChambers yes low data is turned on. Also the roaming data is at 0 bytes so I don't think that's the issue?
    – AJP
    Aug 12, 2023 at 19:56

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As already mentioned in comments, Settings > Mobile Data > Mobile Data Options > Data Roaming off & Low Data Mode on should help.

But also, back in Mobile data, scroll waaaay down the bottom to find Wi-Fi Assist & switch that off too. That setting kicks in if your wifi connection is weak & will use mobile data to 'help out'.. which is not good if you're data-saving.

Also note, while you're right down the bottom of that page, the Current Period & Lifetime statistics.
The 'Current Period' doesn't sync with your data plan or in fact anything at all. It simply counts up from the last time you pressed Reset Statistics underneath. If you need to track your data usage very carefully, then you'll need to reset this on your plan's renewal date every month.

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  • Thanks. I have low data mode on. And roaming is reporting as 0 bytes so I don't think that's the issue? Have deactivated Wi-Fi assist so thanks for that! And yes I wish I could schedule the "Current Period & Lifetime statistics" to reset on a particular day of the month! :-)
    – AJP
    Aug 12, 2023 at 20:11

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