The iPhone isn't lacking in data usage trackers, but many of them offer few features or do little to ensure they're tracking your data accurately. We like Data Usage because it helps keep you on top of all the data you're using, alerts you as much or as little as you want, and provides in-depth statistics.
- Set data usage limits by the month, week and day
- Separately track and monitor your 3G/4G and Wi-Fi data usage
- Automatically reset tracking data when your billing period ends
- Receive notifications when certain percentages of your data plan has been used up during a billing cycle
- Ideal data usage is calculated based on your current consumption
- Offers charts that display your data usage over time
- The app teaches you how to use it when you run it for the first time
- Keeps track of where data was used
- Universal app, so you get an iPhone and iPad version in one purchase
Data Usage is a very thorough app. Unlike most of the other apps on the iTunes App Store, it ensures you've set it up correctly when you launch it. The app notifies you on startup that you need to do something if it isn't able to fully track your data. Setup is very easy too. You just go into the settings, tell it the start and end date of your billing cycle, and input your data cap. From there on out it'll track your data. By default it'll notify you when you reach 50 per cent usage and at every 10 per cent marker from there on up until you hit your cap. You can, of course, turn off notifications for any percentage if you don't always want to know. Checking the app itself can provide you with much more information; it provides detailed graphs so you can see your data usage over time and also gives you a more specific overview of what has been used. Data Usage is a very comprehensive app and handles just about everything you'd want.
There really isn't much to dislike about Data Usage, but it does have one disadvantage that every app has: background issues. In order for data usage to work properly, you have to remember to open it up every time you restart your phone to ensure background tasks are active. This isn't the app's fault but rather the fault of Apple's restrictions on all of its apps. That said, Data Usage does something the other apps don't: it tells you this is a problem and to remember to open it up after a reboot.
DataMonitor (free, jailbreak required) is much like any of the data-tracking apps, but it also monitors your battery. More importantly, it runs just fine in the background because it's a jailbreak app. If you're jailbroken, you may want to consider it instead as it doesn't suffer from Apple's restrictions. (Search for it on Cydia if you want to download it.)
Data Usage Monitor ($US2, jailbreak required), not to be confused with our top pick, is actually a great addition to it. It's a jailbreak tweak that displays your data usage only when you're actually using it. Instead of working as an app, it shows the current usage stats in place of the clock in your status bar whenever you're actually using 3G/4G data. This way you don't have to regularly check your data usage but will be reminded of it when it's going up. (Search for it on Cydia if you want to download it.)
Wee Track Data ($US2, jailbreak required) keeps track of your data just like any of the apps, but it puts the stats in Notification Center. If you want an unobtrusive look at your data usage while still maintaining quick access, this is the way to go — if you're jailbroken. (Search for it on Cydia if you want to download it.)
DataMan (free, $1.99 for Pro) is a simple data-tracking app. If Data Usage is too overwhelming for you, and you want an app that just sets alerts and gives you basic information, check this one out instead.
Lifehacker's App Directory is a growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools across multiple platforms.