Experts have highlighted a hidden setting on your Apple iPhone that could be deleting your apps.

The little-known setting may come as a surprise to many iOS users.

Known as Offload Unused Apps on iOS, it deletes apps that you don’t use very often, uninstalling them by default.

Tom Paton, expert at Ofcom-accredited comparison site Green Smartphones, explained the impact the setting could be having on your phone.

What is Offload Unused Apps

Some iOS users might be aware of a function in Settings that allows you to uninstall apps you don't use very often.

However, not many people realise that there is another setting that if enabled, will delete unused apps by default.

Tom explained: "Deep in the iPhone Settings app, there is a setting called 'Offload Unused Apps'. With this enabled, when your iPhone begins running low on storage, it will search for apps you don't use very often and uninstall them automatically.

"While this setting can be helpful if you're desperate to clear up storage space, it can be annoying to find that some of your apps have disappeared, especially if you're out of the house, and don't want to use all your mobile data re-downloading important apps.

"Once an app is offloaded, certain data and documents are retained, so you should be able to keep using the app again as normal once reinstalled. However, you may need to sign into the app again and reconfigure some settings to get things back to normal.”

How to find deleted apps on your iPhone

Inside the settings app, it's possible to find out which apps have been offloaded and re-install them on your phone if desired.

To find and restore offloaded apps, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and scroll down the list of apps. Then, look for apps with an iCloud icon next to their name.

To reinstall an app that has been removed, tap on its icon.

Tom said: "Rather than using app offloading, the best way to save storage on your iPhone is to go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and manually uninstall any apps you're not using that are taking up a lot of data. This way, you won't be surprised to find apps disappearing in future.

"Another good way to save on storage space is to delete old photos and videos, after making sure that they're backed up on iCloud, or on another cloud storage service. Multimedia files can take up huge amounts of file space on your iPhone."

How to disable app offloading

To prevent any more apps from being deleted in future, you can disable app offloading functionality.

To disable automatic app offloading, go to Settings > App Store and toggle the Offload Unused Apps switch to off.