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Wifi assist ate our data

We rarely use our iPhones , and only once in about 5 years ever exceeded our data plan limit. When it happened a couple of months ago, I was surprised. But it happened again soon into the next month, when we were overseas for 3 weeks with data turned off. This time I called Verizon. I was told to turn off wifi assist, that a change Apple instituted around our departure time would shuttle us off wifi if a stronger data signal was available. The service rep explained that this was happening even as we used our devices in the living room, not just overseas. She kindly amended our bill and we're OK now. I've never quite understood how all this works, and have been reluctant to post because of that, but wanted to share our experience. I hope I have this right as I don't want to share misinformation.

Posted by
2292 posts

Yes. If you have this setting on (on may be the default), and wifi is relatively weak, then the phone automatically uses data to keep your speed up or your pages loading. It's a good thing if you have a lot of data and wifi failure is rare. It's bad if your data is limited (like when traveling) or if your wifi often cuts out.

It's at the bottom of the Settings --> Cellular menu. Turn it off when traveling with limited data!

Posted by
285 posts

Yes you have to manually turn this option off. For obvious reasons your carrier is not anxious to broadcast this fact since if you leave WiFi Assist "on" you can typically incur data overage charges.

Posted by
1490 posts

Is this something that can happen with iPads as well - or just phones?

Posted by
285 posts

Janet if your iPad is cellular enabled then yes, it will have the WiFi assist option in the settings menu

Posted by
11154 posts

It's an issue on Android devices as well. On a Samsung (I don't know if it's the same on other Android models), go to Settings, then Wi-Fi. Make sure "Smart Network Switch" is un checked, or else you'll use data unwittingly.

Posted by
2075 posts

Thanks so much, Denny. I had no idea. Does anyone know if this is a problem when you are on airplane mode. I have been under the impression that I had no worries as long as my phone was on airplane mode.

Posted by
4506 posts

Carroll,

I actually asked myself that very question :-)

As far as I understand, when airplane mode is on, it disables cellular data, so your phone won't use any data.

I actually kept my iPhone on airplane mode on my recent trip to Europe, and only used Wi-Fi to send iMessages & called home by using FaceTime (voice)
And... The best thing was not incurring any charges by my cell phone provider!

Happy Holidays!

Posted by
11154 posts

Carroll: when you turn on airplane mode, it disables all communications between the device and the "outside world." Calls, texts, cellular data, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth - all turn off. You can then turn some of these back on, individually.

Short answer: you're safe from this problem (data being eaten without your knowing) in airplane mode, but you may also cut off stuff you want, so be sure you've turned those things back on manually.

Posted by
2075 posts

Thanks, Priscilla and Harold. Sounds like I'll continue to be okay with airplane mode.

Note to Harold: I have always been able to use wifi with my phone on airplane mode.

Posted by
2292 posts

Airplane mode disables data, so no need to worry about this if you stay in airplane mode all the time.

What I do when traveling is turn off cellular data (Settings --> Cellular top of menu). This allows my phone to get calls and wifi without using data. I have wifi assist off, too. Just in case. Then I can turn on data if needed, like if I'm lost and need google maps or to look up a phone number.

Wifi assist is under Settings --> cellular at the bottom of the menu.

I have it off always just in case. Doesn't matter at home for web browsing (I have a lot of data) but I don't want it turning on if I'm watching a long video or moving thousands of photos!