Two 4S's use 3G data while connected to WiFi

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by netslacker, Nov 16, 2011.

  1. netslacker macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

    This issue is driving me batty lately. My wife never leaves the house yet she's burned through her entire data allowance in 1 week. Even my Phone is using massive amounts of 3G data while I'm at home and connected to wifi. I've turned off nearly every feature we can think of that may be causing it but still we see 3G data usage when wifi is connected.

    Siri and iMessage appear to use 3G no matter what unless you turn off cellular data altogether. Only then will wifi be used. To test this, connect to wifi, reset cellular usage stats, ask Siri to send a text (to someone that is iMessage), send the message and recheck cellular usage. Voila, about 17KB used.

    Even if Siri and iMessage always use cell data - I'm pretty much fine with that since it's small amounts - there is something that uses massive amounts. Like 20mb to 130mb each evening. I have a feeling that app updates occur over 3G too, but not convinced yet.

    I've disabled iCloud features to the point where it's almost useless and still no luck.

    At the rate we are going we will both fly through our data for the month.

    Anyone else resolve this? Ideas? I have a genius bar appt this am but I'm pretty sure they can't help me, but we'll see.
  2. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    Are you on AT&T? If not, does your carrier (Verizon, Sprint? C-Spire? Not in the US?) give you usage stats based on time of day? Those might be useful to see when the data usage is happening, and particularly to see if there's large data sessions happening at a specific time of day, or if it's something that's generally spread out.

    iOS 4 had a similar mystery issue with data usage, but I'm not sure if it was ever really determined why to anyone's satisfaction:
  3. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    As the other poster said, make sure that your carrier shows the same data usage you're seeing on the phone. If you're relying on the phone's own Cellular Usage stats, there appears to be a bug/issue where wifi usage will be shown by the phone as cellular data, but it is actually wifi and your carrier will report the true usage.
  4. dotme macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2011
    Shot in the dark:

    Settings > General > About > Diagnostics & Usage > "Don't Send"

    If you have no luck at the Genius Bar, try the above.
  5. c613m macrumors 6502


    Aug 9, 2011
    I can see how that's a problem :D
  6. netslacker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008

    Yes, AT&T. We know we're using 3G data because I'm looking at the billing (current usage) on complete with date/timestamps to correlate with. AT&T seems to keep pretty good track of your usage and adds a line item for every iMessage or whatever used over 3G.
  7. fw221 macrumors member

    Mar 12, 2010
    I'm home most of the time on wifi and I've only used 165MB this month. Is one of your apps fetching data over 3G without you knowing? Someone in another thread said that Solitaire was causing a problem.
  8. netslacker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    I just got back from the not-so-"genius" bar at the Apple store. That was a frustrating experience...

    When I explained to the first genius what was occurring he said it must be a firmware issue, so he restored both iPhones. After restore, it was still doing it (we reset 3G data usage and then did a few things on Apple Store wifi and then 3G data showed usage on it). He then said it must be a hardware problem and passed me off to another genius to replace both the phones. I showed the second genius the problem and even referenced my billing that shows 31MB of usage this morning at 7:30am (for which time I was laying in bed updating applications). She took the phones into the back room to run further diagnostics.

    About 10 minutes later she returned with my phones and informed me that no exchange would occur since they've determined that all the phones in the back room exhibited this behavior of using 3G while connected to Wifi. She suggested I contact AT&T to resolve the issue and to disable 3G on the phones in the meantime. When I told her that disabling 3G wasn't a practical solution she suggested I return them for a refund. :(

    I told her we'll look into the refund but since our 30 days just lapsed 2 days ago that's likely no longer an option.

    As I was leaving another sales rep wanted to give me a high-five as he was saying "another satisfied customer" ... I'm not very satisfied so no high-five was given in return. :mad:

    At any rate, my wife just wants to return her phone and get something else. I haven't told her yet that she's past the return period of 30 days... :eek:

    I really hope that the rumored 5.0.2 addresses this issue otherwise I will have to look at a phone change.
  9. TuiSong macrumors regular

    Sep 28, 2011
    Petone, New Zealand
    I have 2 new 4s and only one has a sim in it. The sim that I have is a prepay data sim that has not been activated yet, so neither of the phones are using any 3g at all. But when I check the usage it does show a small amount of cellular data usage. I think it is the iMessage because we've been mucking around with it setting up all our iDevices for family communication.

    They're not really using the 3G because two of the devices we're using don't even have sim cards installed in them! I'nm thinking it will have to be a software fix
  10. netslacker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    Who knows, but how would one even determine that? Neither of us has solitaire installed.

    I actually believe it is iCloud and an App Store problem. I know for fact that Siri and iMessages will use 3G as their preferred data connection unless 3G is turned off. However, I'm actually not so concerned about either of these as they use minuscule amounts of data each time. It's the 31MB charges that keep appearing on our billing during late evening or early morning hours when we KNOW we are on WiFi. For example, I updated 4 apps yesterday morning while laying in bed. Today there is a 31MB charge to my billing for that time period (7:30am) yet when I was using the phone the WiFi signal was present with full 'bars'. Similar to last Monday night, my wife had several app updates (like 10) and so she started updating them. Next day our billing showed 130MB of usage for the same time period (10:30pm). She swears she was on Wifi and I tend to believe her as we have dozens of similar instances, these are just two examples.
  11. dotme macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2011
    Well, honestly, that tells you your WiFi router has power. It says nothing about your ISP, and whether the router can "See" the Internet at those times.

    If the iPhone sees WiFi, it will attempt to connect over it. If the attempt fails, it will revert to 3G if enabled.

    Can I make a suggestion?

    Open your Settings, choose "Store" and make sure "Use Cellular Data" is turned off. If you're convinced that it's Apps doing the dirty work here, make sure the Store can't use 3G whenever you try to update them.
  12. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    Nothing engenders more contempt for someone with a complaint as when they come up with not-so-witty turns of phrase like this. Just sayin'...

    Unfortunately, that's pretty much all any of us can tell you at this point, including the Genius bar folks. They don't write the code, and so it's not like they can just go in the back and tweak the kernel and voila! An update, problem fixed.

    This is clearly a software bug, and exchanging the phones wouldn't have resolved your issue either. They're running the same software as your phones are.

    The next step is to make sure it's on Apple's radar. There is a bug report form that you can use to send your issue directly to Apple. You can also join the Apple Discussion forums and post your problem there. These are the best ways to make sure they know you're having this issue. The more people who have this issue make their case known to Apple, the more likely there is to be a fix coming.

    Again, there is no fix forthcoming if Apple doesn't know about it. And no matter what anyone says, posting your problem here doesn't guarantee that Apple hears about it.

    Short of that, the only other way to fix it would be to have the jailbreak community do it for you.

    ^^ Definitely give that a shot.
  13. netslacker, Nov 16, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2011

    netslacker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    Right, been there, done that. We have internet and I've since retired the router in favor for my travel airport express... same issue. It's not the internet connection as this was one of the first things we looked into as that made the most sense to us since both phones have the issue. Also, it did the same thing even while at the Apple store......

    Oops: You're not suggesting to turn off 3G here altogether, I misunderstood so the below comment doesn't apply. However, I did go an check this and I already had this set to off on both phones. But nice suggestion!
    Sure, that resolves it, but is that really a practical solution? to remember to turn 3G on/off as we come and go in and out of wifi range? The phone is supposed to do this itself and if it says it's on wifi, it should be on wifi and use wifi. This wasn't a problem previous to iOS 5.


    Agreed. I have indeed filed a bug report with apple and so has my wife.
  14. dotme macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2011
    Well, you're not turning 3G off, you're just disabling using 3G for downloading and updating apps. You can still use 3G for surfing, email etc when out of WiFi range without having to go messing with the Store setting.

    Maybe in IOS5, that Store setting is an "absolute" switch.

    On=Use 3G even if WiFi is available
    Off=Never use 3G

    Would be a strange thing if that's how it works, but maybe that's what's happening.
  15. netslacker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    Right, I adjusted my comment above as I had misread the suggestion as disabling all of 3G. My bad. What's interesting as even with this turned off I can still update and install apps over 3G, it never prompts me otherwise. So not sure this setting actually does anything... perhaps it only applies to "automatic downloads" as the page title suggests, which we have disabled since we got the phones. Nevertheless, good suggestion.
  16. dotme macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2011
    With 3G turned completely off on the iPhone at home, you can download apps over WiFi no problem, right?

    I'm assuming that's a yes - So it's not that the WiFi path is dead.

    I just took a look at my family plan data usage with AT&T. I have one phone on the plan that seems to be exhibiting the same behavior as yours. Massive 3G data usage when the phone is definitely here at home and well within WiFi range. I'll be looking into that this evening. 250MB used in 2 days. Ouch.

    It's a family member's iPhone, so I'll investigate when they get home. If I find a smoking gun, I'll post back.
  17. itsmemuffins macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2010
    Just checked on my 4S. Wifi on and working, 3G on.

    Siri will use wifi, iMessage will use 3G regardless of wifi.
  18. netslacker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    Correct. Wifi path is just fine.

    Are all of your phones 4S's or have iOS 5?
  19. SirStrumalot macrumors 6502

    Feb 28, 2011
    Minneapolis, MN
    I'm facing the same problem as you. I don't know wtf is going on. I'm 2 days into my billing cycle and my AT&T stats tell me I've used 400mb!
  20. netslacker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    Start here:

    They need to know that there's an issue so filing the report gets it on their radar.
  21. dotme, Nov 16, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2011

    dotme macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2011
    We have two iPhone 4 units, and two 4S units. All on 5.0.1

    The culprit on the heavy usage was Pandora. Fair enough. But the behavior is what has me scratching my head. It's common knowledge that when you hit the top button to put the phone in sleep mode, the phone will drop the WiFi link after a few seconds and revert to 3G. But I thought that only happened if the iPhone wasn't charging. My impression was that in the past, if the phone was connected to a charger, it would remain connected to the WiFi.

    Evidently not. Or at least, not any more. So if you download an app, or have apps pushed to the phone, and you hit that top switch to turn the screen off, there's a good chance the download will continue on 3G.

    This might not be the issue here, but I promised I'd pass along my findings. My daughter had no idea that her plugged-in iPhone would revert to 3G while streaming audio after the screen turned off. She knows now...

    Edit: I'll also add that while she streamed for about 6 hours, the data was a single hit at 7:05 AM for 105 MB so don't discount some other app on your phone that's streaming/pulling data while it's sleeping and after it stops, perhaps several hours later, a single entry appears on AT&T's reports.
  22. netslacker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    This is good information. We don't use pandora in our case but perhaps, as you suggest, that once we start apps updating on Wifi and we let the phone lock itself that it will finish up on 3G. I'm going to do some further testing as this so far is the best hint and explanation as to what is occurring that I've come across after reading countless posts/threads about this issue. Thanks for following up, very helpful. I'll report back my findings.
  23. stevenw1123 macrumors newbie

    Feb 15, 2012
    Has anybody found a solution to this problem? or at least what is causing this?

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