In Summary

Apple and Google offer the auto-update app feature to ensure you’re running the latest versions of apps on your phone. Although this feature is quite convenient, it leads to excessive data usage, which can be a problem if you’re often on cellular data. Fortunately, both Android and iPhone let you turn off automatic app updates to limit your mobile data usage and lower your monthly subscription costs.

Although this is a convenient feature that ensures you get the latest features and an updated experience, generally free of bugs, it has one major drawback: excessive data usage. This can be particularly concerning if you spend most of your day outdoors and, therefore, rely heavily on cellular data for all your online activities. Fortunately, both App Store and Play Store let you turn off automatic app updates on your iPhone or Android smartphone to limit mobile data usage. Here’s how to disable automatic app updates on Android and iPhone.

How to Turn Off Automatic App Updates on iPhone

If you’re an iPhone user, Apple restricts automatic downloads of apps that are more than 200MB in size by default. While this implies large apps and games won’t get updated when you’re on mobile data, it also means that those less than 200MB will still get downloaded. So if you have many such apps installed on your device, you’ll still be spending a lot of your data on app updates. Hence, disabling automatic app updates makes sense in this case too. Follow these steps to disable automatic app updates on iPhone:

Launch Settings on your iPhone. Scroll down and select App Store.

Toggle off the button for Automatic Downloads under CELLULAR DATA.

From now on, any future updates to the apps installed on your iPhone will only be downloaded while you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network.

How to Turn Off Automatic App Updates on Android

Unlike the App Store, which restricts automatic downloads over the cellular connection by app size, the Play Store doesn’t offer any such option. Instead, it does give you another feature: the ability to disable automatic updates for specific apps. With this feature, you can limit Play Store’s cellular data usage while having certain apps, such as those that need to be updated regularly, updated to their latest versions. However, keep in mind that this also means you’ll need to update the deselected apps manually whenever you connect to Wi-Fi. Here’s how to disable automatic app updates over cellular on Android:

Open the Play Store app on your Android phone. Click the profile icon and select Settings.

Hit the downward pointing arrow next to Network preferences to expand its settings.

Tap on Auto-update apps and choose Over Wi-Fi only to auto-update apps just using Wi-Fi going forward.

Alternatively, if you want Play Store to disable auto-update for a few specific apps (i.e., update just a few specific apps), leave the auto-update apps option set to Over any network in step 4 and follow these steps:

Click on your profile icon in Play Store and select Manage apps & device.

Go to the Manage tab and tap on the app you wish to prevent from auto-updating to open its settings.

Hit the three-dot menu in the top-right corner and uncheck the Enable auto update option.

Repeat this for all apps you don’t want to update automatically. Generally speaking, these will be large apps/games or apps you rarely use.

We don’t find this feature very practical since it requires you to disable auto-update for most of the apps on your phone just to keep those select few ones on auto-update over cellular. That said, there are instances when it can come in handy to some people.

Disabling Automatic App Updates Also Helps Limit Your Battery Usage

Turning off automatic app updates on your phone is an effective way to restrict mobile data usage and lower your carrier subscription costs. But that’s not all. Disabling automatic app updates also helps limit battery usage and extends battery life, so you can get more mileage from your daily charge and don’t run out of it when you’re in a pinch.