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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

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TechnologyTips and Tricks12 iPhone settings you need to turn off now

12 iPhone settings you need to turn off now

🕓 Estimated read time: 5 minutes

In this post, I will show you 12 iPhone settings you need to turn off now, to optimize your device’s Privacy, Security and Performance.

iPhone Settings

If you’ve been an Apple user for a while, you will have noticed that the iPhone is packed with features and settings that some, may find convenient, but others not used at all. Apple continuously improves its iOS operating system with extra features, bug fixes and security fixes.

When it comes to major updates, such as iOS14 and iOS15, Apple tends to presume that every user wants to be tracked and that their privacy is important. But are you aware of how many settings are actually enabled that actually track your location and usage habits? It concerns me a little, that a company as big as Apple, insist that user privacy is their priority, yet they, by default enable so many tracking services, it’s hard to believe that our privacy is their priority.

It’s important to note that, a lot of the enabled services within an iPhone, iPad and iWatch are enabled for a purpose. Mainly for the purposes of making sure everything works nicely together, across apps etc. However, these settings don’t need to be enabled all of the time and can be enabled as and when you use certain apps.

There are settings that can affect battery life and settings that affect mobile data usage. There are also some absolutely pointless settings that are enabled by default. So let’s delve right in and have a look at the 12 iPhone settings you need to turn off now!

1. Background App Refresh

This one has been around a while, but to save battery life and mobile data, it needs turning off. Background App Refresh allows apps to refresh their data and content without opening the app. This is quite useful for some apps. It’s worth noting this happens over Mobile Data and WiFi as default. Its recommended changing this to WiFi Only.

Iphone Background App Refresh

Go to Settings
Press General
Press Background App Refresh
Press Background App Refresh
Select Wi-Fi
Press Back
Turn off Background App refresh for each app that you don’t require it on.


2. Stop allowing apps to track you

Do you really want to allow apps to track you whilst using other apps? This basically just allows Apple to create a personality profile on users, such as what you like, where you go, what your interests are etc. – Just turn it off

Iphone Privacy Tracking

Go to Settings
Scroll to and Press Privacy
Press Tracking
Toggle the slider off next to Allow apps to request to track.


3. Use Location Services wisely

The keyword you’re looking for here is the word “Always”. Having your selected location services set to “Always” means the app you’re using will be able to track you, all of the time, using your GPS location. It’s a big battery juice drinker, so it’s worth changing the setting to “While Using”.

Iphone Privacy Location Services

Go to Settings
Scroll to and Press Privacy
Press Location Services
Within this list, you’ll see all apps that use location services. You’ll need to go through each app and decide where you want that app to track you all of the time. Here you can press the app that you want to change and then set it to ‘Always’, ‘While Using’ or ‘Never’. Most apps should really be set to While Using.


4. Turn off unnecessary System Services

Apple uses loads of system services that utilise and track your location. Within this section, you will see a big list of services that track your location. You will also see arrows next to some of them.

If you see a solid purple arrow, this means it is currently tracking your location now. A hollow purple arrow is doing something called Geo-Fencing, it is checking to see if you are entering or leaving a certain area, for things such as alerts etc. A Solid grey arrow means your phone has tracked your location within the last 24 hours. Essentially a lot of these services can be turned off, it just uses battery juice unnecessarily and Apple don’t need to know everywhere you go.

Iphone System Location Services

Go to Settings
Scroll to and Press Privacy
Press Location Services
Scroll to the bottom and press System Services

A couple of settings I would definitely keep turned on are Emergency Call & SOS, Find My iPhone, Mobile Network Search and Networking & Wireless.

In addition to these settings, there is also Significant Locations. This one creeps me out a little bit… this section shows you exactly where you have been, what date and at what time you were there.

Apple states that Significant Locations are encrypted and cannot be read by Apple. However, when you go to turn it off, it says it will affect many Apple apps… so it can be read by Apple!? I’m not convinced, turn it off.


5. Product Improvements

These settings, in my opinion, are just pointless.
Apple makes more than enough money to product test prior to a release of an iPhone, without needing to continually receive data from your phone. Turn off iPhone Analytics and Routing & Traffic.

Iphone Product Improvement

Go to Settings
Scroll to and Press Privacy
Press Location Services
Scroll to the bottom and press System Services
Product Improvement
Turn off Routing & Traffic


6. Analytic Privacy

Again, Apple has thousands of employees and carry out diagnostics, surveys and all sorts with product development groups… sharing analytic data with Apple includes location information. I thought Apple don’t have access to this?? hmm, turn it off.

Iphone Analytics And Improvements

Go to Settings
Scroll to and Press Privacy
scroll to and press Analytics & Improvements


7. Personalised Adverts

Ads, urgh… turn it off! This section states, that it will not reduce the number of ads you receive. Technically, the less information companies have on you, the less personalised their campaigns can be, making you less valuable to them, therefore reducing targeted ads.

Iphone Apple Advertising

Go to Settings
Scroll to and Press Privacy
scroll to and press Apple Advertising
Turn off Personalised Ads


8. Sensor and Usage Data

This seems like a totally pointless setting. Very similar to the analytics settings above, it just collects data. Turn it off!

Iphone Research Sensor And Usage Data

Go to Settings
Scroll to and Press Privacy
Scroll to and press Research Sensor & Usage Data
Turn off the toggle next to Sensor & Usage Data Collection


9. Backup over mobile data (5G users only)

This is the most ridiculous setting I’ve ever seen. Who came up with the idea of backing up your phone to iCloud over mobile data!? Turn it off. This only applies to iPhone 12 and above.

Iphone Mobile Data Backup

Go to Settings
Press your name at the top
Press iCloud
Press iCloud backup
Backup of mobile data
Turn it off!


10. Transfer data to iCloud over mobile data

If you use iCloud Drive, your phone automatically pushes documents and data to iCloud for backup and retention purposes. However, this can also happen over mobile data, which will just eat up your data allowance. Turning this setting off, won’t lose you any data. It will just send it to your iCloud when you next connect to WiFi.

Iphone Mobile Data Icloud Drive

Go to Settings
Press Mobile Data
Scroll all the way to the bottom
Turn off the toggle next to iCloud Drive


11. Photos and Videos using up mobile data

Automatically iPhones, send your photos and videos to iCloud including any shared albums you have. These files can be significantly large. Some photos can reach upwards of 10MB. So potentially your phone is sending hundreds of megabytes of data when connected to the internet. Including over mobile data. Turning this setting off will mean photos, videos and shared albums will be updated to your iCloud only when connected to Wi-Fi

Iphone Mobile Data Photos

Go to Settings
Scroll to and Press Photos
Press Mobile Data
Turn off Mobile Data


12. Preloading top hit websites

If you’re a website owner, you want your website to load super fast for your users. That’s your job to ensure your website is set up to load fast. Apple decided it would be a good idea, to implement something similar to allow websites to be pre-loaded before you have even visited it.

The setting Preload Top Hit, looks at your safari suggestions, looks at the top suggestion and then preloads the entire contents of that initial page, even if you don’t visit it… pointless. That website could contain many images and videos, downloading megabytes of data.

Iphone Safari Preload Top Hit

Go to Settings
Scroll to and Press Safari
Turn off Preload Top Hit

Iphone Privacy Settings

By turning off the settings I have mentioned above, you may see a difference in the length of your battery life lasting just a bit longer. But remember, it is your phone. You set it up entirely how you want it, your privacy is always your decision, not anyone else.

I hope you found this article of use. You can read more of my technology articles by heading to the ‘Tech’ topic.

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6 COMMENTS

    • Most of these settings John are as standard in iOS15 upwards. The only exception is the ‘backup over 5g’ which only aplies if you have a 5g enabled iPhone or iPad.

  1. Hi Damion,

    Well, being a Samsung user I’d like to be able to type something along the lines of “Hah! That’ll teach you not to worship the false god that is Apple!!”. I’d like to … but I suspect all manufacturers are the same. They are all out to make as much money from us as possible – and the best way that they can do this is by finding out more about us.

    It’s almost enough to make you want to abandon all electronic devices and start wearing a homemade hat made from foil 😉

  2. It’s scary to think how much we’re are being tracked nowadays. I often try to set the tracking to ‘Only When Using App.’ I have an Android so I don’t know whether this feature is available on Apple phones. Some great advice here. You’re right., some of them are so pointless as to why they need to track our movements. Thanks for sharing. Really interesting post!

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