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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Wish List: Sort by cellular data usage in iOS

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

This one’s short and sweet. Last week I was off traveling and had to rely heavily on my iPhone’s data connection, with Wi-Fi being non-existent in many places and incredibly unreliable in the rest. As the end of the trip approached, I quickly realized that I’d ended up using the bulk of my 4GB monthly data allotment, even though I was only about a week into my billing period.1 Even by dialing back my usage, there was little chance that I wouldn’t go over.

Cellular Usage on iOS

Now, there are plenty of ways to monitor your data usage on iOS: you can use tools provided by your carrier, a third-party app like DataMan, or even go to Settings > Cellular and see an app-by-app breakdown.

But that last option has one key issue. Unlike iOS’s pretty great battery usage breakdown (Settings > General > Usage > Battery Usage), the Cellular data screen lists apps alphabetically. Great if you want to turn off cellular data access for a particular app, but what I really want to know is which ones are the worst offenders.

So I’d like a toggle, please, that lets us choose whether to sort by highest data usage or alphabetically by app name. That way I don’t have to scroll through the entire listing of apps to figure out which one is eating up all my data.2

For extra fancy points3, adding filters for the last 7 days or last 24 hours, as Apple already does for battery usage, would be pretty handy as well. Not to mention being able to set a day of the month where your usage automatically resets, since I often forget to manually zero the meter on the first day of my new billing cycle. But, as I said, that’s a gap that third-party apps can fill for now.

Of course, what I really need is an iPhone case that shocks me when I’m using too much data. But let’s maybe hold off on that one for now.

  1. What can I say? Self-control isn’t always my strong suit. 
  2. Hulu. It was totally Hulu. But, I mean, come on! I was standing in line for hours on end–what was I going to do, not watch the latest episode of Arrow
  3. Fancy points are non-redeemable. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

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