How To Download iOS Apps Bigger Than 50MB Over A 3G Connection

One of the minor nuisances of using an iPhone is that you can't download an app larger than 50MB using a 3G connection — a handy way of ensuring you don't chew through mobile data, but a decided nuisance if you want to grab an app while it's on sale. To solve that problem, you have to connect your device via Wi-Fi, but what if you don't have access to a Wi-Fi network? Reader Graham explains how he solves the problem using his iPad.

Picture by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Here's the solution Graham uses:

I just wrote out these instructions for a friend on holiday away from Wi-Fi and unable to download apps over 50MB. I use this method all the time when I get your daily app deals at the office. You need an iPhone and iPad (using Wi-Fi rather than its own SIM). This approach also helps save on your mobile data.

  1. Switch on the Wi-Fi hotspot on your iPhone.
  2. Connect the iPad to the iPhone Wi-Fi hotspot.
  3. Go into the App Store and make the purchase.
  4. Exit the App Store and find the icon of your new app - it should say "Waiting" underneath.
  5. When it switches from "Waiting" to "Loading", touch the app icon once. It should now say "Paused".
  6. Repeat for any other app purchases.
  7. Switch off your iPhone Wi-Fi hotspot.
  8. When you get back to a Wi-Fi network, touch the app icon for your paused downloads. They will now download without using your mobile data.

This solution won't work for everybody (since it does depend on having the iPad as well), it doesn't actually install the apps for you on your iPad if you wait until you have a real Wi-Fi connection to finish installation, and you'll need to reload the apps on your iPhone afterwards. But it does provide a way of working around the barrier of knowing an app is on sale but not being able to download it over 3G. Thanks Graham!


    The first thing that comes to mind is- if you want to catch it while its on sale; you can buy it, but not download it and you get the sale price.
    Other scenarios where you need to download on the go-
    Still very helpful

    Same principle with a PC and an iPhone:

    Tether PC to iPhone's Wifi sharing mode. Use iTunes on PC to purchase and pause download when it starts. Once you've Wifi coverage, use iPhone to search download what you already purchased on the PC prior.

    Very misleading title. This isn't really a tip unless you have an iPad (or another device to tether to). Most people would be better off just wandering to Maccas or something and using WiFi. Or the only real solution - jailbreaking and installing 3G unrestrictor (which is what I did).

    I thought everyone knew this. I had an Apple Genius instruct me on this in 2011, and got the impression that I was one of the last to find out about this trick.

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