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The primary purpose of data connectivity on my phone is checking email. I don't surf the Web when I'm "bored" (I occasionally look up something that I absolutely have to know that can't wait until I get home or to the office), and I don't watch videos. I also have the following configured:

  • Data Saver: on.
  • Wi-fi always connected at home, work and other places where I am routinely located.
  • Images turned off in my browser of choice.
  • Background data turned off for almost everything except my email app.
  • "Wi-fi only" mode in Maps.
  • Apps and updates only downloaded over wi-fi.
  • Back-ups off.
  • And possibly more, but the point is I have turned off everything that I can find.

For the past two years I was using Ting in the US and Lollipop (5.1), and was routinely using less than 100 MB of data a month. One month I used 112 MB -- one month! -- and I was shocked.

A couple of months ago I opened an account with Freedom Mobile (formerly Wind Mobile) in Canada. (I actually live in Canada, but was permanently roaming on an American network for philosophical reasons and because it was actually cheaper.) In switching to the ironically named Freedom Mobile (I have unrelated issues with their service), I also got a new phone running Oreo (8.0.0).

As I was compiling data for this email I realised that my problems didn't actually start with Freedom Mobile, as I have had two different phones with them in the almost three months I have been with them. For the first two months I had a Motorola E5 Play, bought unlocked from Best Buy. I then gave that phone to my wife and bought a Motorola G6 Play from Freedom. She now uses the E5, and as far as data is concerned only very occasionally uses the Web and no email at all, so she is not a factor in my tale of woe.

But since switching to the G6 my data usage has absolutely gone through the roof, by more than ten times. It may not be much data as far as some power users are concerned, but for me it's massive, and I want to get back below the 250 MB per month included in my plan. This is what my usage has been this year:

  • January: 56 MB (Ting)
  • February: 42 MB (Freedom, E5)
  • March: 35 MB (Freedom, E5)
  • April: 659 MB (Freedom, G6)
  • May (so far): 433 MB (Freedom, G6)

(The month is the date of my bill for the previous month.)

When I leave a location with wi-fi, and look at my data usage, I can use 20 MB within five minutes -- that's five literal minutes -- and I will have downloaded absolutely nothing!

I have checked the data usage of all my apps and it is my email app that is chewing through mobile data. It's the same app (K-9) I have used for over two years on all three of the phones I have noted above, and it blasts through data on my latest phone even when it is not actually downloading anything. I know that an email check with no new email still uses a few bytes, but not dozens of MEGAbytes! Even if I'm checking every few minutes, 288 checks a day (every five minutes) is not going to use hundreds of megabytes.

Given everything I have noted above, does anyone have any idea why a Motorola G6 Play phone would be using massive amounts of data/bandwidth? It doesn't seem reasonable to assume it's the email app, considering it's the same version of the same app I've used on previous phones where this behaviour was not evident, but I also can't believe that the hardware would make a difference. However, on the face of it that is the only thing that has changed.

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    How large is the difference between the data usage shown on your phone and the one on your bill? – Robert Apr 27 at 11:36
  • @Robert Thanks for your question. There is no appreciable difference. Just the small differences that one would expect. – CraigH Apr 27 at 21:03

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