iPhone Life magazine

How do I manage my data usage?

iPhone, iPad with 3G

MyATTYou don’t have to worry about this if you’re using a Wi-Fi connection, but cellular data plans are another story. If you browse the Web a lot, you’ll want to check your data usage periodically. AT&T and Verizon offer different types of data plans. Here’s a comparison of data plans and price, and how you can check your usage (as of early March, 2011):

AT&T data plans (monthly charge):

  • $15 for 200MB of data.

  • $25 for 2 GB of data.

  • $45 for 4 GB of data.
  • $20 for tethering one other device (already included in the $45 data plan).

Verizon data plans (monthly charge):

  • $29.99 for unlimited data.
  • Verizon Data Usage App$20 for 2 GB of tethering (up to five devices +$20 for each additional GB).
Apps to check data usage:
The easiest way to check your usage on the 3G iPad and the iPhone (the iPod touch only connects via Wi-Fi) is to download the free data usage apps from AT&T and Verizon:

  • MyAT&T (free, app2.me/2538).

  • My Verizon Mobile (free, app2.me/3670).

Check your data usage on your iPhone or 3G iPad with free apps from AT&T (top-right) and Verizon (bottom-right)

Open the apps to see a complete breakdown of data and voice usage, minutes used, and other features such as the ability to enroll in paperless billing and pay your bill through the app.

Another way:

On your iPhone, you can open Settings>General>Usage to see your call time and data usage.

Different cellular data networks: Edge, 3G, and 4G

When your iPhone or iPad Wi-Fi + 3g connects to a cellular data network, it accesses one of these:

EDGE (2G): This is the slowest, but it’s also the most widespread. This network compliments AT&T’s 3G network whenever it is not available. You device will connect to EDGE when a nearby Wi-Fi signal or 3G network isn’t available. EDGE doesn’t allow you to multi-task (i.e., use the phone and surf the Web at the same time), but it will at least give you a signal.

3G: Both Verizon and AT&T use 3G signals for the iPhone and the iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G. Speed tests on the iPhone from CNET showed Verizon’s average download speeds are faster than AT&Ts, even though AT&T’s top speed is almost twice as fast as Verizon’s. However, AT&T may cover some areas better so you should check area coverage maps before choosing a wireless provider.

Note that the faster 4G networks are being deployed, but as of March of 2011, 4G was not available for iOS devices on any carrier.