Why did I use 625MB of cell data in 1.25 hours?

I just got my new Moto Z Play telephone yesterday. Nice phone. I had been using a Moto G (1st gen, I think) on one of the old 3g plans. So this phone doesn’t have a FM tuner built-in, and I was streaming our local NPR station while I was out walking this morning. When I got back I discovered I had used about 625 MB of 4g LTE cell data over my 4 mile walk. ??? I had been told by Republic that 4g wouldn’t use more data than 3g for the same function, but it would just be faster. Is this not true? I can listen to NPR on my old phone, but what does this mean if I wanted to stream Pandora on my walks instead?

You can open the data settings to determine which app(s) used how much data.

There are two places to see this data, the Android settings or the Republic Wireless app; both are equally valid for this task.

Android Settings:

  • Open the Settings app

  • Under Wireless & Networks (very top section) tap Data usage

  • Observe the date range: there is a ~1 month date range selector, it should default to the current month but you should confirm this (mid-screen on the left edge)

  • Observe the list of data-consuming apps at the bottom of the screen, These are listed in descending order based on how much cell data the app has consumed in teh selected period of time

Republic Wireless App:

  • Open the “Republic” app

  • Tap the second icon from the left along the top row of icons (4 vertical bars meant to depict the standard cell signal meter)

  • Wait a few seconds (this screen takes a few seconds to refresh)

  • Tap the bar on the bottom of the scree (where it says some amount of “Cell Data Used”)

  • Note the bar graph: it shows data usage per day

  • The list of apps below the bar graph may be scrolled and shows essentially the same info as the Android Settings screen (though here it shows as percentage of data used rather than megabytes)

  • Tap any app in this list (then wait a few seconds) to see that app’s DAILY usage light up as an orange segment on each day in the bar chart above

Pandora is probably recognizing that you have more bandwidth available with 4G and is using a higher quality stream. Streaming audio and video can be a real hog. I use Google Play Music service and download podcast and play lists to my phone for when I am away from WiFi. Then I use no data.

Even if your phone was streaming the audio feed at 320 kbps (which Google Play Music can do if you don’t restrict it), you shouldn’t have used 625 MB in 1.25 hours. I have seen some instances lately where the phone downloads operating system updates over cellular data (which is generally unintended).

You may want to look at app used to for your NPR streaming. NPR does offer video news and other video which will consume data at much higher rates than their traditional “radio” streaming would.

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