Application "Android OS" uses mobile data even if they are disabled

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Android Central Question

Most of the time I use Wifi, so I have mobile data always disabled and I only turn them on when needed. For every application I've individually disabled usage of data in the background (so that no app can consume mobile data unless I specifically open that app) - I've un-ticked "Enable usage of cellular data in the background".

However, the application "Android OS" uses data even if they are disabled!!! (Obviously in the background and even when I'm on wifi). Also there is no option to disable background data for this app (as there is for other apps).
My data usage says, that this app has used less than 0.01 MB.

The problem is that anytime I use any data, my provider immediately charges me for the whole month.

How can I stop this behaviour?
Is this an Android BUG?!?!

My Android version: 8.1.0, patch 1 September 2019
 

annammae

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Hi!

Phone is LG Q6 (M700N).
I turn the data off in the mobile data settings.
1-mobile-data.jpg

I don’t know if this happens in Airplane Mode as well (it happens maybe once in a month, by itself, when I use my phone as usual, so I don’t know what causes it and I’m not able to reproduce it).

So, the data are turned off, but this one app "Android OS" downloaded some data anyway.
2-apps.jpg

If I click on that app to see more info, there is no option to disable background data (as there is for other apps), but instead it says that there are some other apps included in this usage.
3-appsinside.jpg
 
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B. Diddy

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There might not be any way around that. It may be that manually turning off mobile data like that will still let the OS access the web intermittently using mobile data for system-critical functions, even if you're connected to wi-fi. Turning on Airplane Mode might prevent that from happening, but that would limit your ability to make phone calls (although wi-fi calling should still work).

Have you spoken to your carrier about this? Show them those screenshots, and see if they're aware of this kind of issue.
 

Mooncatt

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I know you said your carrier will charge for the entire month if any data has been used. Are you just stating that as to the reason you are concerned, or are you saying you have been charged due to this miniscule usage?

I ask because the report shows 10KB of data or less was used. Technically, zero data would fall into that reading, so maybe that report just doesn't have the ability to display absolute zero? I can't even begin to think of anything that would only use less than 10KB in today's world. If you haven't been charged for data use, then I wouldn't worry too much and go with my original gut reaction that this is the result of an inability to show absolute zero data use.

Something else to keep in mind is this report only displays raw data use, not necessarily what you get charged for. For example, a phone pinging the telecom servers to maintain proper connection couple use data that the telecom exempts from data charges/limits. In one extreme case, I think it was TMO that once offered Netflix streaming that did not count towards a tiered plan limit. In both cases, the phone would report that data usage, even though the usage was essentially free.
 

annammae

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I assumed that when I manually turn off data, OS or any app shouldn’t be allowed to use them. So if there's no way around this, that's really unfortunate behaviour :-(

I don’t want to have my phone in airplane mode – I want to receive calls. Also I don’t want to disable data service with my carrier completely, because from time to time I want to use them (but I want be able to turn them on and pay for them only when needed).

I have talked to my carrier about this, because they suddenly charged me for data. They’ve sent me a general response, that my phone really downloaded some data, and that it’s possible that some apps can use data even if they are turned off in the phone. Then I've found out that some app really did use them.
This happened 3x times already.

In my previous reply I wrote that it happens only maybe once in a month, but now I realize, that it maybe happens more often – but only once in a month I learn about it, because that’s when my previous monthly data package expires, and when that app downloads data again, my carrier sends me a message that they are charging me for a new month.

Also I’m wondering that most of the people either use data all the time, or don’t use them at all (have data disabled with their carrier completely), so most of the people probably don’t notice such a small data transfer. But I have seen several questions similar to mine on the internet with no reasonable answer or solution.
So it seems that I’m not the only one with this problem.
 

annammae

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I have been already charged several times.

I have a data package that works like this: when I use any data, my data package is automatically activated, I’m charged a fixed price and I have data available for 30 days. After it expires, I don’t have any data and don’t pay anything, until next time when I start using data again and I’m charged for a new data package, new 30 days. (Normally this works great for me, because usually I am on wifi, but sometimes when I really need data, I can easily start to use them.)

The report shows less then 10KB, so maybe it was just some ping, but obviously some app really transferred this small amount of data - you can see possible culprits in the third picture. But from the point of view of my carrier, some data was transferred, so they can charge me. They don’t have any threshold – when I don’t use data, they expect me to transfer 0 KB, not 9 KB.
 

smvim

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OK, so I was wondering if the problem was just a one-time glitch but since you mentioned it's happened three times now it does appear to be something that needs to be looked into.
Just to be sure it's not just some ongoing glitch, if you haven't restarted your phone than do so. I also leave my mobile data disabled on a regular basis and haven't experience your 'data leak' issue before. But that's just anecdotal as we all use different carrier services and have different model phones running different versions of Android.
You might also want to install a firewall app. They allow you to selectively allow/disallow WiFi and cellular connections for each app. I'll suggest you try NetGuard, it's free, Open Source, and no ads with a solid feature set and actively supported by its developer:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=eu.faircode.netguard&hl=en_US&gl=US
Be sure to delve into the app's Settings menu to configure it to suit your particular needs, and note that after that it still will require you spend some time setting things up. You need to determine which apps have online access via both WiFi and cellular, so if you have a lot of apps it will of course take longer than if you just have a dozen or so.
Oh, and one caveat involving non-root firewall apps (NetGuard, Mobiwol, Non-Root Firewall, etc.) -- they tend to rely upon a clever workaround that involves a local VPN service (local is in only running within your phone, not any kind of external, online VPN service) So if you already have a VPN app installed, this won't work for you. You can only have one, active VPN service running on your phone so it's one or the other.
 

annammae

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First time it happened a few months ago and in the meantime I've restarted my phone several times, so it looks like it's not a one-time glitch.

I will try NetGuard and see if it helps or can find out where the problem is.
Thanks for the tip!!
 

fede01_8

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I'm having the same issue. I tried ROMs for Android 9, 10, 11 and 12 and they all use mobile data even after I disabled it (ArrowOS 9 less frequently). Netguard does not prevent connections.

Did you find a solution, op?
 

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