MMS messaging and app/data features basics

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Active member
HoFo Member
Oct 28, 2008
Southwest Michigan, USA
T-Mobile Prepaid & Page Plus
LG Aristo 2 Plus (T-Mo); Moto G Power 2020 (PPC)
I don't come in contact too much with real MMS messaging, as I use Google Voice and that's usually over Wi-Fi.

But I have a relative using TracFone who occasionally receives an MMS message, once recently when she had run out of mobile data. Normally she keeps mobile data off and relies on Wi-Fi for what she needs to do. Some message came in and in the messages list (this is using Google Messages) there was a constant revolving symbol, which seemed to be an attempt at downloading that would not finish.

The phone is a Moto G Stylus 2021 (I think an XT2115; it's not 5G).

Mobile data availability aside, I have specific questions about two settings that I'm not entirely clear on.

1. In the Messages app Settings>Advanced area, there is a toggle for "Auto-download MMS".

2. Also, in the phone's Settings>Network & internet>Mobile Network area, there's a toggle for "MMS messages - Send & receive when mobile data is off".

I'm familiar with the idea of having control over allowing MMS images/data downloads to simply happen, or with the right configuration selected, prompting you to accept the downloadable content or not. I assume the feature listed in No. 1 provides that function. With that toggle off, you should receive a prompt for a yes/no on the MMS content download.

But in the case of No. 2, when mobile data is off, what is being offered here? As I understand it, MMS content can only be transferred using mobile data, not Wi-Fi (except for iOS devices, not relevant here).

Is this feature the one that, with mobile data off, allows the temporary turning of it on just for the download of MMS content, then cycles it off?

My confusion is that there seems to be a little redundancy with these controls. If you've got mobile data off but want to allow it for the occasional MMS, you've got a further control to prompt you to allow it and not just have it wide open for all MMS? I can see that.

Anyone care to share their take on this? Maybe I'm just over thinking it.
Not sure if this will help, but MMS works without mobile data if both phones have RCS texting. It did for me anyway when I was struggling to get MMS to work on US Mobile.

Sent from my SM-S536DL using HoFo mobile app
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Might be best to get this moved to TF

IIRC different providers handle these issues differently

may also vary by phone model, OS version.

The definitive data points will likely only come via testing

including topping up the data bucket for $10
I would venture that if RCS is actually in use, the process can no longer be called MMS, and any pictures sent are likely more like an email attachment (in theory if not actually), unlike MMS, sending text under one protocol and any pictures under another with a separate accounting of costs involved.

I think the empty data bucket was indeed probably the reason the message list had that unending download thing going on. She's going to take care of that pretty soon.

I think the "Auto-download MMS" feature is pretty much to show or not show a prompt giving the user manual control over individual MMS messages downloading to the device (even when mobile data is on). The other control (No. 2 in my first post
above) is for allowing the "momentary on" capability of mobile data to allow MMS download even with data off, subject to the prompt of the first control, if it is set NOT to Auto-download. Make sense?

All of this reasoning is understood to be in effect with RCS switched off.

I need to read up on the current situation with Apple edging in to RCS support. Some level of it is supposed to happen soon.

I thought this topic was more Android app focused, as opposed to TracFone-specific, but if a mod wants to move it there, I wouldn't be opposed.
The issue is, traditional SMS/MMS is always there as a fallback

not under control of the user, nor either of the providers involved alone, but rule-based algorithms operating under changing conditions.

So no matter what you want to call it

what actually happened, or how it gets charged is only known definitively after the fact
It's only a fallback if an Android sender has their own Messages app configured to do so if the intended recipient doesn't appear to be hooked up to RCS themselves (and does RCS work cross-carrier?). In the case of an iPhone sender (using iMessage, of course), it won't be using RCS (for the time being, anyway). This is what actually happened. A person sent a group message (from an iPhone) to about 20 recipients (including my sister), and we wanted to get settings squared away for the rare occasion this occurs (plus juice the TF data bucket).

If I was the sender I would've used email for such a task.

Additional later: I couldn't remember the particulars about Apple supporting RCS, but here's the story:

This will be better for cost-conscious Android users who keep data off but Wi-Fi on, and still want to get picture messages without incurring any data plan usage, and have iPhone friends sending them stuff. Also found out RCS is cross-carrier compatible, for the most part.
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