But iOS 13 has changed all that with the new Low Data mode. The name is pretty self-explanatory: this will allow your iPhone to consume less bandwidth. And, surprisingly, while Low Data mode is available for cellular data, you can also enable it when you use your iPhone on Wi-Fi networks.
Of course, you have to wonder how the reduced data mode works exactly when activated. iOS 13 lacks the explicit explanation. So, after using this mode on my iPhone since the release of iOS 13 beta, here is how I work.
How does the weak data mode
After activating the Low Data mode, what surprised me is that it does not really prevent the use of my iPhone. For example, I continued to receive timely notifications. On my iPhone, iMessage seemed to be working perfectly and applications that were allowed to use cellular data were still functioning normally. At least that was the general impression at first.
The Low Data mode does its job under the hood and it takes a while to notice the subtle changes. For example, I found that the Photos application had automatically paused downloads on iCloud. I needed my explicit permission to start syncing my photos and videos again. Even then, I could only do it for 24 hours, after which I had to give my permission again.
Regarding iCloud itself, I noticed that system backups were no longer performed automatically. I had to initiate them manually. However, tasks that do not usually require much bandwidth – such as bookmarks, notes, and reminders – are synchronized without any problem with iCloud on my iPad.
And then there is the App Store. I found the autoplay option of inactive video even when they were allowed to play. The same goes for automatic application updates – they were also in limbo. To perform manual updates of applications, I also had to "confirm" my actions. However, I found how much each update of the application was measured for the first time. Some of them may be tiny compared to the situation with iOS 12 and earlier versions.
Among the other areas where I noticed that things were different, it was with Apple Music, where the tracks did not listen in optimal quality. However, I tend to download songs locally before listening to them, so it does not really matter. FaceTime was also affected because the video call quality was slightly degraded.
Overall, I found that native iOS applications had a strange limitation on the use of cellular data. The same thing applied whenever Low Data was enabled for Wi-Fi. On the other hand, I did not notice any noticeable changes with third-party applications, probably because they are not yet optimized for Low Data mode. For example, YouTube did not seem to care about HD quality and streaming it as it normally does on my iPhone.
However, turning on the weak data mode has limited the application's refresh functionality in the background. Applications running in the background, whether they are native or third-party, did not seem to update normally. This has proven problematic when using applications such as Apple Maps and Google Maps.
If you use it
If you use a limited cellular data connection, you should consider enabling low data mode. Since I activated it on my iPhone, I have never exceeded my monthly quota. But I still have to keep an eye on the use of third-party applications, because they do not seem to line up behind the Low Data mode, unlike Apple's applications and services. This can change once third parties begin to integrate their apps with iOS 13.
The ability to also use Low Data mode on Wi-Fi is nice, but it's something better to leave off. Having some features such as iCloud backups reduced on both the cell and Wi-Fi is not a good idea.
If you have a bandwidth limit on your home Wi-Fi connection, enabling Low Data Mode can help you better manage your monthly quota. With poor Wi-Fi connections that prevent you from accomplishing everything, enabling Low Data Mode can also make things more bearable.
How to enable the weak data mode
The weak data mode must be enabled separately for cellular data and Wi-Fi. In the latter case, you must enable the feature for each connection manually. This is very convenient because it is not necessary to enable it for all the Wi-Fi connections your iPhone connects to.
The activation of this feature requires an exploration of the iPhone Settings application. If you're not familiar with the process, here's how to enable weak data mode for cellular and Wi-Fi connections.
Step 1: Open the iPhone Settings app, tap Cellular, and then tap Cellular Data Options.
2nd step: Turn on the switch next to the low data mode.
Step 1: Open the iPhone settings, tap Cellular, and then tap the "i" shaped icon next to the Wi-Fi connection for which you want to turn on the weak data mode.
2nd step: Turn on the switch next to the low data mode. Your iPhone will remember this preference even after you have disconnected from the Wi-Fi access point.
Once you have enabled Low Data mode, your iPhone will start using less bandwidth. If you have enabled for cellular data and Wi-Fi, do not forget to perform iCloud backups manually and update apps regularly.
Helpful but could have been better
Although Low Data mode does not look as exciting as, say, dark mode, it remains one of the best additions to iOS 13. It really helps you stay under your monthly quota without having to manage everything. . That said, I hope that Apple could have done a better job by implementing the weak data mode.
For example, there could have been more granular control options on the type of activities you want to limit. With the adoption of Haptic Touch on all iOS devices, we hoped to be able to switch to the Control Center. Hopefully the functionality will be improved in subsequent updates.
Then: Working with the Files application in iOS 13 is a real treat. Here is a handy compilation of the best features of the Files application.