iOS Bug Could Cost You A Fortune In Data Fees While You’re On Vacation



We’re all familiar with how costly data can be on our iOS devices if we’re using them to get on the internet abroad with no access to a Wi-Fi hotspot. To prevent nasty charges, most of us turn off data roaming and avoid using our devices for the internet.

However, there’s a nasty bug in Apple’s iOS operating system that could cost you a fortune while you’re on vacation by allowing you to download apps over a 3G data network even with the feature turned off.

Pocket-lint reports that the “dramatic” flaw affects 3G-connected devices — that’s the iPhone and the iPad — running both iOS 4 and iOS 5. It’s most likely to affect those who take their device abroad, hook it up to a Wi-Fi hotspot and then begin downloading their app updates only to have their connection to switch over to 3G halfway through. However, it could also be a problem for those who do not have data included in their plan.

In the App Store settings menu on your iOS device, there’s an option that allows you to use mobile data to download App Store purchases. By default, this is set to off, and you’ll want to keep it off if you have to pay for your data.

The problem is, it doesn’t actually do anything. Even with this option toggled off, your device will still allow you to download apps over a 3G network, as demonstrated in the video below from Pocket-lint:


As you can see, this little problem is going to be a huge issue to a large proportion of iOS device users. In fact, I think it’s so significant that I’m very surprised it’s been a problem since iOS 4 — as Pocket-lint claims. What’s more, the reader who alerted Pocket-lint to the bug claims to have contacted Apple’s customer care team about the problem on November 15, and has yet to receive a response.


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  • Alexander Buczynsky

    Its not a bug, if you read what the cellular data toggle is really meant for, you would realize that it is designed to stop AUTOMATIC downloads, not to prevent manual downloads.\

  • Freek Monsuur

    Right. It’s a feature, not a bug.

  • Aj Tk427

    well you can’t download anything over 20mb anyways

  • joewaylo

    (Automatic Downloads)
    Music ON
    Apps ON
    Books ON
    Automatically download **new purchases** (including free) **made on other devices**.
    Use Cellular Data OFF
    Use cellular network to download purchases.

    This doesn’t affect purchases made on the iTunes Store by using your device in hand. Automatic Downloads is designed to sync the newest purchases on WiFi or Cellular if enabled to download from the iCloud **when it is purchased from another device**.

    If I bought it on my iPad, it syncs to my iPhone automatically using the iCloud on WiFi or Cellular (if enabled).

    If you buy an app from the iPhone or use the app while on vacation, it’ll charge data usage as it is being used. You have to disable it from general / network / cellular data off

  • Alberto Hernandez

    You should delete this article because this is not a bug.

  • David Stretanski

    It has probably not been an issue since under Settings>General>Network there is an option to turn off Data Roaming. Most travelers know of his option (or defaulted off); which likely overrides the functionality in the App Store settings.

  • Manuel Reyes

    Yup working as intended, delete!

  • Alexander Buczynsky


  • Hampus

    Yea, noticed this a few days ago, saw the option and tried turning it on in the hope that my sister would be able to download larger apps over 3G since she only has the 3G connection on her iPhone and iPad, no Wifi. Seemed like it didn’t do anything since everything worked the same with it off or on, this bug would explain that.

    However, as already stated, just turn data roaming off and you’re good to go…

  • Hampus

    How is it not a bug? Even if you set the option to download apps over 3G to off apps can still be downloaded when you obviously shouldn’t be able to…

  • Hampus

    Would be great if that was the case but it’s never worked like that for me. If I start a download on any device be it the iPhone, iPad or PC with iTunes the other device will start downloading simultaneously.