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  1. #1


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    iPhone 4 3G data usage
    Hi all,

    I'm new to the smartphone world...please be gentle!

    I have 1GB data usage. I understand that when I am connected to wifi the data used doesn't count towards my 1G on my phone plan for my iPhone 4.

    However can someone explain to me - in 3G (if I am away from a wifi connection) how do I know if my phone is using data? The '3G' symbol is almost constantly on, but does that indicate that data is being downloaded? I've noticed times when the 3G turns blue or the loading symbol shows next to it, is this indication of data usage?

    I have set most of my apps, mail, etc to only update manually etc but I just need to know that I am not downloading data needlessly.


    Any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2


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    If you have many apps set to "push," then you can safely assume your phone is using some 3G data when you're not in a Wi-Fi space.

    Otherwise, you can assume that you're NOT using 3G data unless you see a "loading circle" next to it.

    Almost every carrier I know of offers a free app to monitor your 3G data usage, but unless you are a heavy 3G user you will never get ANYWHERE near that 1GB limit.

  3. #3

    mrplow's Avatar
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    Surely the whole point of Push-ing data to the phone is that it doesn't have to use outgoing data?

    e.g. Push email uses server side detection to decide a new email has arrived and pushes that to the phone. As opposed to 'non-push' email where the phone uses outgoing polling to request email from the server and uses data in doing so.
    Not been around these parts for a while. Trying to change that . .

    Please use the reputation system if you think you've been helped - bottom left of this post

  4. #4


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    Thanks for the replies.

    I left my phone idle for an hour today whilst apparently connected to 3G. There was a minimal increase in data used but nothing major.

  5. #5

    Deckyon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrplow View Post
    Surely the whole point of Push-ing data to the phone is that it doesn't have to use outgoing data?

    e.g. Push email uses server side detection to decide a new email has arrived and pushes that to the phone. As opposed to 'non-push' email where the phone uses outgoing polling to request email from the server and uses data in doing so.
    However, with "pulling" you decide when you get the data manually. This allows you to NOT use any data until on a wifi connection. Pushing disregards this and sends the data regardless of connection.
    MBP 17" 2011, 2.3GHz Intel Quad-Core i7, 8GB RAM, AMD Radeon HD 6750M 1GB RAM
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  6. #6

    mrplow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deckyon View Post
    However, with "pulling" you decide when you get the data manually. This allows you to NOT use any data until on a wifi connection. Pushing disregards this and sends the data regardless of connection.
    But that's surely the point. It can push it anytime regardless of your connection as there's zero impact on your data usage.
    Not been around these parts for a while. Trying to change that . .

    Please use the reputation system if you think you've been helped - bottom left of this post

  7. #7


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    Quote Originally Posted by The Big J View Post
    Any help would be appreciated.
    If you are still concerned you can turn off data completely in in Settings->General->Network->Cellular Data. I turn mine off all the time when I'm not using it because I have the small data plan.

    You can also leave the cellular data off while having Wi-Fi set to on. This makes sure that you won't ever use 3G when you don't have Wi-Fi.

  8. #8


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    Quote Originally Posted by mrplow View Post
    Surely the whole point of Push-ing data to the phone is that it doesn't have to use outgoing data?
    In 3G/4G world, there is no "incoming" or "outgoing" data. There is just data, and everything your iPhone does that uses it -- from receiving an email to checking the time and temperature -- uses data when you're not using Wi-Fi. It's a trivial amount most of the time, but it's still using it.

  9. #9

    mrplow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chas_m View Post
    In 3G/4G world, there is no "incoming" or "outgoing" data. There is just data, and everything your iPhone does that uses it -- from receiving an email to checking the time and temperature -- uses data when you're not using Wi-Fi. It's a trivial amount most of the time, but it's still using it.
    That's just semantics. Even with mobile data streams there still the concept of upload and download.

    But in regard to using and being charged for data perhaps this is another of those global telecoms anomalies.

    I'm in the UK. My son has an iPhone with a pay-as-you-go sim. The same is true of my daughters data allowance on contract with a different provider. Once the 3g data allowance is used up they can no longer upload or download in the traditional sense. Yet, without financial or data use penalty, they can still receive push email.
    Not been around these parts for a while. Trying to change that . .

    Please use the reputation system if you think you've been helped - bottom left of this post

  10. #10


    Member Since
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    They still receive push email when they are on Wi-Fi, of course.

    But if they are not on Wi-Fi NOR have any cellular data left, they will not be receiving any email until they reconnect to the internet in some fashion.

  11. #11

    mrplow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chas_m View Post
    They still receive push email when they are on Wi-Fi, of course.

    But if they are not on Wi-Fi NOR have any cellular data left, they will not be receiving any email until they reconnect to the internet in some fashion.
    As per my post above. That simply isn't the case in this instance.
    Not been around these parts for a while. Trying to change that . .

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  12. #12


    Member Since
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    MrPlow: perhaps it is different in the UK, but I'd love to hear an explanation of how you can receive email when not connected to the internet at all.

  13. #13

    mrplow's Avatar
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    In the same way you can receive calls and texts when you have no credit to make outgoing calls or texts. It's exactly the same.
    My point, relevant to the OPs original question is that receiving push notifications for email does not impact your end user data usage.
    Not been around these parts for a while. Trying to change that . .

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  14. #14

    Zoolook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrplow View Post
    Surely the whole point of Push-ing data to the phone is that it doesn't have to use outgoing data?

    e.g. Push email uses server side detection to decide a new email has arrived and pushes that to the phone. As opposed to 'non-push' email where the phone uses outgoing polling to request email from the server and uses data in doing so.
    AFAIK data usage isn't measure by outgoing data, it's measured by data transfer to the device. Whether pushing or pulling, a 1mb email is always going to be a 1mb email. The 'polling' uses data measured literally in bytes, so would make virtually no difference.
    In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death.
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  15. #15


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    It must be entirely different outside Canada and the US then, because in these two countries ALL 3G DATA (incoming and outgoing) is counted against the total you have paid for.

    MrPlow: you were apparently talking about push notifications, I was talking about actual e-mails. So I see what you mean now.

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