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Thread: WiFi vs cellular data usage

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    Veteran Member Brian63's Avatar
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    WiFi vs cellular data usage

    I am tech illiterate and a smartphone newbie, so please explain simply.



    If I have WiFi and cellular data both turned on and I am in WiFi range and using it, does my phone still in the background use up some amount of cellular data?

    We recently got notification that we have been using up a lot of notification on our account, and were unclear why. There are other background details behind our situation, but the question above is the key one that remains. I asked a customer service rep at our carrier if that would account for the heavy usage, and he could not give an answer with certainty but stated that he has had personal experience where it seemed that even when he was using WiFi, if he still had his cellular data turned on then it was consuming data. So it is best to turn it off when you are not using it.

    Another tech-savvy person had previously told us that if you are in range of WiFi then your phone will give preference to that before using cellular data. He made no mention of it still using some cellular. So we are getting some confusing and perhaps contradictory info.

    Help! Thanks.

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    Your phone will always prefer wifi, but note that just because you are "in range" doesn't always mean you have a decent connection to it. (Simple test: Wifi with no uplink and your phone won't get anything. If I want to check my ISPs outage page I have to turn off WiFi.)

    Note, also, that your phone will use data even when you're not doing anything with it. Things like checking for new mail etc. You also might have some crapware sucking up your data. Check the settings, see what apps are actually using the data. On my phone: Settings > Connections > Data Usage > Mobile Data Usage. On mine the biggest user is Google Maps. There are a few surprises: 21MB for Kindle (the only thing I can think of is syncing the last read point), 6MB for Fitbit (how much stuff is it synching?? I never look at the information on the phone.)

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    Loony Running The Asylum ZiprHead's Avatar
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    We've had a couple issues of similar nature lately.

    I've come home, thought my phone was attached to the wifi when it was actually attached to the wireless printer. So i'm happily listening to podcasts while eating up my data plan. I had to tell the phone to forget the printer.

    My wife's phone was tremendously eating up data and she couldn't figure out why. We found out she had numerous pages in chrome running in the background she didn't know were still active eating through her data.

    Your phone will tell you which apps are using the most data and you can also set data limits.
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    Elder Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
    Your phone will always prefer wifi, but note that just because you are "in range" doesn't always mean you have a decent connection to it. (Simple test: Wifi with no uplink and your phone won't get anything. If I want to check my ISPs outage page I have to turn off WiFi.)

    Note, also, that your phone will use data even when you're not doing anything with it. Things like checking for new mail etc. You also might have some crapware sucking up your data. Check the settings, see what apps are actually using the data. On my phone: Settings > Connections > Data Usage > Mobile Data Usage. On mine the biggest user is Google Maps. There are a few surprises: 21MB for Kindle (the only thing I can think of is syncing the last read point), 6MB for Fitbit (how much stuff is it synching?? I never look at the information on the phone.)
    Would disabling Google maps cause any issues? Just enable the app whenever you need to use maps?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
    Your phone will always prefer wifi, but note that just because you are "in range" doesn't always mean you have a decent connection to it. (Simple test: Wifi with no uplink and your phone won't get anything. If I want to check my ISPs outage page I have to turn off WiFi.)

    Note, also, that your phone will use data even when you're not doing anything with it. Things like checking for new mail etc. You also might have some crapware sucking up your data. Check the settings, see what apps are actually using the data. On my phone: Settings > Connections > Data Usage > Mobile Data Usage. On mine the biggest user is Google Maps. There are a few surprises: 21MB for Kindle (the only thing I can think of is syncing the last read point), 6MB for Fitbit (how much stuff is it synching?? I never look at the information on the phone.)
    Would disabling Google maps cause any issues? Just enable the app whenever you need to use maps?
    I believe the usage is proper--multiple trips through areas that I didn't have downloaded. I'm nowhere near my data limit.

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