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Why does my Pixel 3A go online when I don't want it to?

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by JimmyPixel3a, Jun 13, 2021.

  1. JimmyPixel3a

    JimmyPixel3a Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Hi Everyone,

    Hope you are able to help me with this. I tried several different forums but still can't get an answer. Long story short, why does my Pixel 3A continue to go online when I don't want it to?

    When I'm at home, the phone is always using my WIFI. I don't want to use any mobile data unless for emergencies when I'm away from home.

    My "Mobile data" setting is turned off. In Developer settings, the "Mobile data always active" setting is turned off.

    So before I leave my house, I always turn my Wifi off. Then I try to access the internet and I get the message "No internet Connection". So I'm happy. I drive around thinking my Mobile Data is not being used.

    Problem is, there are times when I'm out and I look at my phone and I see the message "Back Online" and the phone has used up a chunk of my Mobile Data allotment. I'm on a plan where I don't have much data usage to begin with.

    I don't know why this is happening. I don't know of any other options that need to be OFF so that Mobile Data does not automatically kick in.

    As well, there are times when I leave my home and I turn Wifi off. Then I'm driving around and I still have an internet connection but it's using my Mobile Data instead.

    Really hoping that someone can help me out. I'm posting on this forum that's specific to the Pixel 3A so that maybe others have experienced the same thing.

    Thanks for your help.
     


    #1 JimmyPixel3a, Jun 13, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2021

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  2. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    I have a Pixel 2 rather than a 3A, but unless it's a feature added since November we likely have the same options. However I always leave mobile data on, as I suspect most do, so I can only speculate about this problem.

    One thought: when I turn data off there is an option appears to allow me to send/receive MMS (which uses data, though with my provider that's on a different APN). Is it conceivable this is what you are seeing?

    Another is whether you have any app installed that could override such settings? This is a tricky one to pin down, since the permission CHANGE_NETWORK_STATE, which I think is the relevant one, is not as rare as you might hope: if I look through apps on my device that have this I can see why some need it (e.g. Tasker, or the app I use to connect my camera to my phone), but damned if I can think of a reason why so many message apps would want or need it, or ******* Facebook of all things. Of course having such a permission doesn't mean that an app is abusing it, it just makes it harder to track down the culprit if there are many candidates.

    You could try running in safe mode for a while and seeing whether the problem goes away (of course how long it will take to tell will depend on how common it is). If that stops it you will know that it's an app you have installed, and it becomes a matter if tracing the culprit. If not, then you know it's something pre-installed.

    The only other thing I can think of is to look at your app data usage and see whether you can spot which apps are using mobile data. Of course if the connection is turned on then many apps will, but if it is an app that's turning it on you might guess it would appear on that list, so I'd be tempted to look at that list and then check the permissions of those apps.

    Unfortunately Google do not consider this type of thing a sensitive permission, and so do not allow you to deny it to an app. So if you do manage to identify a culprit (assuming that it is an app in the first place) your only option will be to remove the app.
     
  3. JimmyPixel3a

    JimmyPixel3a Newbie
    Thread Starter

    @Hadron , thank you for your reply. For my MMS messages, the "Send and receive when mobile data is off" is turn ON. I ran a test from home. I turned off Wifi and had no internet connection. From a different phone, I sent an SMS message and it came through but didn't turn my phone back online. However, someone else sent an MMS message to me and it did turn the phone back Online. Not sure if this was just a coincidence or if this is per the design of the phone.

    At times, when the Mobile Data kicks in without me knowing, it is the following apps that are using the biggest chunks of data (Google Play Store, Gmail, Google Services Framework, org.codeaurora.ims).
     
    ocnbrze likes this.
  4. codesplice

    codesplice Elite Recognized Moderator
    Moderator

    ocnbrze and Dannydet like this.
  5. JimmyPixel3a

    JimmyPixel3a Newbie
    Thread Starter

    @codesplice , thanks for the suggestion. Will give it a shot although I've never done anything in Safe Mode before.
     
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  6. codesplice

    codesplice Elite Recognized Moderator
    Moderator

    Safe Mode is pretty painless. It just temporarily disables all the apps which weren't preinstalled on the phone. It's a great way to diagnose if a problem is being caused by something you've installed.

    Once the test is over, simply reboot again and you'll be back to normal.
     
    ocnbrze likes this.
  7. JimmyPixel3a

    JimmyPixel3a Newbie
    Thread Starter

    @codesplice , thanks again. Just ran one test in regular mode. Turned off Wifi and checked for no Internet Connection. Someone sent me an email and it triggered me to be back Online again even though my Wifi is still off and my Mobile Data is still off. Thoughts on this one? I think the same scenario happens if someone sends me an MMS message.

    And just to add, someone just sent me an MMS message and that put me back Online again. Now I'm narrowing this down. I can understand getting MMS messages coming through because I have the setting to use Mobile Data to send/receive MMS messages when Wifi is off but not sure why email came through though.
     
    #7 JimmyPixel3a, Jun 14, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2021
  8. codesplice

    codesplice Elite Recognized Moderator
    Moderator

    When you talk about being "Back Online", is the mobile data toggle turning itself back on?
     
    ocnbrze likes this.
  9. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    The email thing is very odd, since something would have to tell the phone that an email had arrived in order to turn the internet connection on, which of course requires an internet connection...

    MMS are different: the network will use the SMS protocol (which doesn't require a data connection) to inform the phone that there is a message. But email is very strange: sufficiently so that I've just turned WiFi and data off and sent a mail to my GMail account (as I reckon that's the one with the most obvious connection to Android or Google). So far nothing has arrived and the phone remains disconnected (about 10 minutes now). What email app do you use? I'm thinking that if anything will have a back channel it will be Google's apps, but I don't use the GMail app myself (and in fact have it disabled).
     
    codesplice likes this.
  10. JimmyPixel3a

    JimmyPixel3a Newbie
    Thread Starter

    @codesplice , No. When I open Chrome, it no longer shows the message "No internet Connection". I am able to open different websites. My Wifi is still toggled OFF. And my Mobile Data is still toggeled OFF.
     
  11. JimmyPixel3a

    JimmyPixel3a Newbie
    Thread Starter

    @Hadron, I am using the Gmail app right now. I will run a few tests on the gmail app and see what happens.

    Just ran a few tests. Turned Wifi off. Ensured I had no internet connection. Sent emails to 2 gmail accounts and neither of them showed up on my phone. Refreshing my gmail accounts show the message "No Connection".

    Hmmm...so maybe the first time it happened was a coincidence because an MMS message came in around the same time?
     
    codesplice and Hadron like this.
  12. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    This looks like a job for a Firewall!

    https://noroot-firewall.en.uptodown.com/android

    https://f-droid.org/en/packages/eu.faircode.netguard/

    Another thing to to is to look at what apps are able to use data in the background, and turn that off.

    Try using your 'data saver'.
    It is supposed to allow data connection omly for apps that you are using at the moment.
    This probably means that you would also need to get them out of recents when you are done with them.

    Try opening your developer options, and scroll to near the bottom.
    There you should find 'background processes'.
    I usually have my good devices set at three or four, my crappy devices at none.

    Mostly I use this just to keep Google Play Services from running endlessly in the background, at least on the devices that still have that horrid thing enabled.
     
    #12 puppykickr, Jun 14, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2021
    Dannydet likes this.
  13. JimmyPixel3a

    JimmyPixel3a Newbie
    Thread Starter

    @puppykickr , thanks for the suggestions.

    So I can confirm one of the reasons why my Internet Connection is kicking back in and using my data is when someone sends me an MMS, I go back online. Found that out the hard way when I got back home tonight. Strange thing is I changed the "Messages" app to not use data in the background.
     
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  14. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    Yeah, that is odd.
    As far as I know, a data connection is not required for texting.
    Not too sure about MMS, though.
    Because of the file sizes, it could very well be different.
     
  15. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    A firewall could be used to end this issue.

    If you are not real familiar with one, I would try NoRoot, because it is extremely simple and effective.
     
  16. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    MMS does require mobile data, unlike SMS, but you'd expect it to limit the connection to just downloading/uploading the MMS.

    Many carriers use a separate APN for MMS, which keeps MMS traffic and connectivity separate from general internet usage. It would be interesting to know whether you have this or not - that might be relevant to this unexpected behaviour.

    (Personally it's been years since I've either sent or received an MMS. Here in the UK SMS have been effectively free for a long time, but many carriers charge exorbitant amounts per MMS, despite the poor image quality. Hence the various internet-based chat apps have completely replaced MMS over here.).
     
    puppykickr and codesplice like this.
  17. JimmyPixel3a

    JimmyPixel3a Newbie
    Thread Starter

    @Hadron, for my option MMS messages "Send and receive when mobile data is off", I have this set to ON. SMS and MMS does use my mobile data but I'm not charged for messages.
     
    puppykickr likes this.
  18. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    Yes, but unless the code is stupid I'd not expect that to turn data on for anything other than MMS (i.e. not leave it on afterwards). This is why I wondered about whether you had one APN (for all mobile data) or two (one for general data and a second one specifically for MMS). "APN"s are "access point names", which you can find in the mobile data settings.
     
    puppykickr likes this.
  19. JimmyPixel3a

    JimmyPixel3a Newbie
    Thread Starter

    It looks like I only have 1 APN although I see 2 options (Mobile Internet and Tethered Mobile Internet). The one that's selected is "Mobile Internet".
     
  20. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    Well, from what I see here, it appears that you need to turn that switch off (send and receive when mobile data is off) and see if this issue still occurs.

    My guess is that this is a sneeky way to keep turning your mobile data on and leaving it on without really telling you that this is what they are doing.

    Sounds like something right out of the Google playbook.
     
  21. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    Yeah, so that suggests your carrier uses the same APN for MMS and general data usage. I don't know whether that's relevant, but it's easier to imagine a bad implementation allowing the data connection to be left open for other traffic (as opposed to only allowing one specific service to use it) if it's all using the same APN.
     
    codesplice likes this.
  22. JimmyPixel3a

    JimmyPixel3a Newbie
    Thread Starter

    @puppykickr @Hadron , thanks for the help. I will turn that setting off the next time I leave my home and see what happens.
     

Google Pixel 3A Forum

The Google Pixel 3A release date was May 2019. Features and Specs include a 6.0" inch or 5.6" inch screen, 12MP camera, 4GB RAM, Snapdragon 670 processor, and 3700mAh or 3000mAh battery.

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