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Phone companies charge skyrocketing fees for your use of mobile data. As a result, many customers resort to sticking to free or installed Wi-Fi as a way to reduce costs — but sometimes, your phone still reports mobile data usage even when you’ve already turned it off. What could be the cause?

AdobeStock_379559119 Man using mobile smart phone with global network connection, Technology, innovative and communication concept

How come I’m still using Mobile Data why it’s off? (6 Causes)

1. Wi-Fi Assist Is Turned On (Apple Phones)

Most phone manufacturers try to make internet access as convenient for you as possible. However, they may be adding costs to your phone plan, which you’re most likely trying to avoid.

For Apple users, the Wi-Fi Assist feature analyzes your phone’s connectivity to a Wi-Fi connection and the quality of the connection. Whenever Apple detects that your Wi-Fi connection isn’t satisfying your demand for data, it automatically looks for another connection.

Often, it resorts to using mobile data on your phone without you realizing it.

How To Fix

Here’s how to turn the Wi-Fi Assist feature off on iOS:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Go to Mobile Data.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of this tab, where you will see a slider for Wi-Fi Assist. Tap on it to switch Wi-Fi Assist off.

2. Wi-Fi+ Is Turned On (Samsung Phones)

For Samsung phones, the counterpart feature is Wi-Fi+. I would say this is more of a headache than Wi-Fi Assist as it tends to prioritize the best connection as opposed to Wi-Fi Assist, which only activates when the current connection is really bad.

How To Fix

Luckily, turning off the Wi-Fi+ feature is very easy. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to the Settings app.
  2. Go to the Wi-Fi tab.
  3. Under it, you will see the button for Wi-Fi+.
  4. Tap on the button to turn the feature off.

3. Apps Are Eating Up Your Data in the Background

Some apps are configured to use your mobile data even when you’ve already turned it off. Apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are programmed to try to be constantly connected to the internet even when you purposely disconnect from it.

These apps are notorious for working in the background because they rely on continuous app syncs to ensure that the content you see when you open them is up-to-date. This is their way of sustaining user engagement.

Anytime your apps use data without the user actively using it, they produce or consume background data. How the data is acquired and used varies from app to app and generally lacks transparency.

Background data can be a pain in the neck. Here’s how you can disable it.

How To Fix It On Android

For Android users, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Go to the Connections tab.
  3. Go to the Data Usage tab.
  4. Select Wi-Fi data usage . Once it opens, you will see the list of apps that you have on your phone and how much data they have used.
  5. Identify the ones you think take up too much of your data. Tap on each app and then press the Deactivate Allow Background Data Usage button.

With background data turned off, you may not be able to make full use of the apps’ features.

How To Fix It On iOs

For iOs users, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Go to the General tab.
  3. Find the Background App Refresh tab. From there, you will see a list of the apps installed on your device. iOs is a bit less detailed when displaying the amount of data your apps consume. Try to look for the ones that take up a considerable chunk of available memory by referring to the iPhone Storage tab (this can be found above the Background App Refresh tab).
  4. Under the Background App Refresh tab, turn off background app refresh for each of your chosen apps by tapping on their respective sliders.

4. Mobile Data ‘Always Active’ Feature Is Turned On

Some Android phones make this option available for seamless and continuous connectivity. So even when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, mobile data will still be used when this feature is turned on.

How To Fix

If this feature is resulting in added data costs, you may turn it off using the following steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Go to the System tab.
  3. Tap on Developer Options.
  4. Look for Mobile Data Always Active.
  5. Tap on the button to turn the feature off.

AdobeStock_113252158 Businesswoman connected her mobile phone to the world internet concept

5. Your Phone Is Running Under Wrong APN

The Access Point Name (APN) is the label given to the gateway between the connection and your phone. APN-related problems usually arise whenever you change your SIM card. This is even more common if your old and new SIM cards come from different networks.

Some network providers allow you to enter your APN settings whenever you change your SIM. However, when this is locked in, you may be unable to change or edit your APN.

How To Fix It On Android

If your mobile network provider allows you, here’s how you can reset your APN on Android:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Go to the Network & Internet tab.
  3. Go to the Mobile Network tab.
  4. Look for the name of your mobile carrier.
  5. Go to the Access Point Names tab.
  6. Click on the three-dot symbol.
  7. Click on Reset to Default.
  8. Check if the problem still persists.

With a new APN, you shouldn’t have any more problems.

How To Fix It On iOs

Here’s how to reset your APN on iOs:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Open the Mobile Data tab.
  3. Open the Mobile Data Network tab.
  4. Tap on Reset Settings.

6. Network Type Switch Is Consuming Data

We often switch from LTE to 4G/3G or vice-versa, depending on the circumstances. This chronic switching may bypass your mobile data preferences, which can consume more of your data.

How To Fix It On Android

One way to work around this issue would be to put a complete stop on all mobile data consumption.

Here’s how to do it on Android:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Go to the Network & Internet tab.
  3. Turn off your mobile data.
  4. Set the limit for your mobile data to 0.0 megabytes per month.
  5. If you use internet-reliant apps, you should immediately get a notice saying that you have consumed your allocated data for the month. This halts your phone’s data usage entirely.
  6. From time to time, you will be asked if you want to breach the set limit and use data. To save data, press No.
  7. Check to see if the problem persists.

How To Fix It On iOs

With iOs, you can reduce your data usage by restricting certain activities like automatic updates and background syncing. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Open the Mobile Data tab.
  3. Select Mobile Data Options.
  4. Tap on Low Data Mode to turn on this feature.

Turning off or limiting your mobile data won’t completely cut off your communication. Here’s an article we wrote about receiving text messages even without mobile data — check it out!

Final Thoughts

Mobile data fees continue to skyrocket yearly, and it’s only wise to think of ways to cut back your data usage. By following the tips I have outlined in this article, you can ensure that you are cutting back on your data usage and saving money.