Entries tagged as iPhone 11 Pro

Excessive cellular data consumption in iOS

Documents & Sync consumed 6.6GB of cellular data on my iPhone last month

I usually use somewhere between 5 to 7GB of cellular (mobile) data per month on my iPhone because my data plan gives me 6GB and I make sure not to go over too much. But since last December, I started to notice an unintended, excessive data consumption which caused my monthly usage to hover around 9 to 12GB until April. It then subsided for a while, but it came back last month. I didn't want to pay the carrier more than what I actually used, so I decided do something about it.

The root of this problem has been pinpointed to "Documents & Sync" activity under "System Services" category from fairly early on. You can see that it consumed 6.6GB of data by itself last month, out of 11.51GB total. The difficult part was determining what exact services were causing it, since there were many iOS features depending on synchronizing data and documents to iCloud. After much trial and errors, I was able to find two of them which caused most, of not all, of the issues.

Disabling Photos and iCloud Drive from using cellular data solved the overuse

One was the Photos app using the data connection to update Shared Albums and iCloud Photos. This was a bit strange because I have disabled iCloud Photos and my Shared Albums see barely any activity. Still, it had caused a burst of data consumption from time to time, spending up to nearly 1GB in about 10 minutes in the worst case and making the phone hot in the process. After disabling cellular data option within the Photos entry in the Settings app, these bursts were no more.

The other was the iCloud Drive. When I disabled its cellular data use by using the option buried at the bottom of the Cellular entry in the Settings app, the remaining excess usage stopped. Come to think of it, the data consumed during normal use, be it using the camera, browsing the internet, or interacting with the social media, was roughly twice the previously normal level. So whatever I did, the iCloud Drive was trying to sync some undetermined data in parallel, even though I had no intention of letting it do that. The available space in the Drive did not change, so I would guess it was some sort of system-level stuff.

By the way, the Internet searches I did while trying to fix this problem revealed that a lot of people had similar experiences, but with slightly different solutions. Some people had success by adjusting settings related to iMessages or Keychain, to name a few. So my solution may not be definitive for everyone and you should treat it as a starting point.
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Scorpius constellation amidst the Milky Way

Scorpius constellation in the southern sky as seen by iPhone 11 Pro

The local sky had been clear for the past few days and it was a good chance to test the capability of the iPhone 11 Pro's Night Mode as an astrophotography tool. With a tripod, the exposure time in that mode can be extended to 30 seconds, paving the way for some basic long-exposure shots of the night sky.

For my first target, I chose the Scorpius constellation which would be in seen in the south after midnight. If the sky was particularly dark, the Milky Way would appear as the backdrop. Light pollution situation isn't getting any better around here, so the results from my iPhone weren't impressive even though the southern sky was the darkest.

To make the best of it, I took multiple shots, merged them together, and increased the contrast to make the stars stand out as you can see here. You can even find a hint of the Milky Way slightly to the left of the center. The brightest star of the constellation, Antares (Alpha Scorpii), is visible just above the star on the dead center (Tau Scorpii).

Device: iPhone 11 Pro
Settings: 26mm - ISO 5000 - 30s - f/1.8
Filters: None
Time: 2020-05-14 00:48-00:53 Korea Standard Time
Location: Naju, Korea
8 photos processed with Pixelmator Pro
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Annular Solar Eclipse of 2019

My Nikon P1000 was set up on the roof of the Marina Barrage along with other cameras and telescopes

An annular solar eclipse happening on the Boxing Day in Singapore sounded like a great excuse to have a year-end family trip there, so I acted on it. As expected, multiple venues across the city-state provided spots for people to view and photograph the phenomenon. I picked Marina Barrage as it would have longer totality and snacks.

My family arrived nearly two hours before the start, but a lot of equipment were already on the roof. Once our stuff was set up, my daughters saw the Sun through the handheld protective film or binoculars while I took photos in intervals.One thing that concerned me was the weather, as it was supposed to be cloudy with a chance of rain that day. While the sky was mostly clear during the early stages, clouds began to build up as we neared the totality.

Progress of the solar eclipse observed in Singapore on December 26, 2019

The clouds were both a curse and a blessing. It became cumbersome to track and photograph the Sun through the camera on the tripod, since I needed to fiddle with the settings every now and then. But the clouds often became just thick enough for my iPhone to take the ongoing eclipse directly without any filters, letting me get these nice photos you see above. As a result, both the phone and the camera had their share of the action.

Celine was able to see the eclipse in the morning (left) but clouds obscured view in much of the afternoon (right)

The clouds that moved in about half way through the 2 minutes of totality created a breathtaking view - people could see the "ring" of Sun with naked eyes. That was quite an experience. Alas, the clouds blocking the Sun became thicker and more frequent after that, so they became much more annoying in the second half of the eclipse. I was getting a lot more gaps in the interval photos I was taking, so I finished my session about an hour early and went sightseeing around the Marina Bay with my family to much satisfaction.

Device: iPhone 11 Pro
Settings: 52mm - ISO 20-25 - 1/23810-1/564s - f/2.0
Filters: None
Time: 2019-12-26 12:09-14:25 UTC+8
Location: Marina South, Singapore

Making external storage work on iPhones with iOS 13

- or, why do I get "too much power" error with my drive and how do I fix it? -

Apple's official Lightning to USB Camera Adapter

With iOS 13, native support of USB external storage was introduced to iPhones. Files stored externally can be accessed from the Files app included in the OS. Other apps can do it as well if it can connect to this Files app. Sadly, modern iPhones' external port of choice is Lightning, which means you either buy a storage device with a Lightning port or get an adapter to connect a USB device. This is where things get complicated.

I bought a Lexar MicroSD to Lightning Reader (part # LRWMLBNL) more than three years ago. It connects directly to the Lightning port and I can open files using a dedicated app. Apple MFI certified storage can supposedly work with the iOS 13's Files app, but that wasn't the case here despite the certification. Adding insult to injury, its app had not been updated in more than two years - the screen resolution and the file sharing functions were outdated. I needed a different solution.

Apple sells many types of USB adapters, one of which is the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter you see above (US$29). It can be connected to a camera for transferring photos and videos, hence the name. Other devices could be plugged in as long as the OS recognizes it, like keyboard, MIDI equipment, or Ethernet adapter. iOS 13 expands this to general storage and mouse.

Plugging in a USB flash drive directly do the adapter results in a "Cannot Use Accessory: This accessory requires too much power" error

So I bought this adapter expecting that any low-power storage devices like USB flash drives and memory card reader could be plugged in directly for my file management uses. Boy was I so wrong. Of the multitudes of flash drives and card readers I own, all of them, save for one, caused the "too much power" error you see here. This was bizarre because they shouldn't consume enough power for this to appear. There had to be a reason and a way around this, so I decided to dig in.
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