Android - MMS Without Data

Noah Petherbridge
Posted by Noah Petherbridge on Monday, September 19 2011 @ 10:35:44 PM
UPDATE (2017/02/07): because some people can't read, I thought I'd reiterate the key points here at the top of the post:
  • MMS picture messaging simply requires mobile data to be enabled (how do you think all those JPEG bits are getting transferred? They won't fit in the 160 character SMS limit!)
  • The steps on this post end up with mobile data enabled so that MMS works, but it blocks mobile data for Internet use so the other apps can't use it.
Any further comments being like "hurr durr you get MMS to work without data by turning on data" will be redirected to /dev/null. And anyway, this blog post was written when Android 2.3 was current and the steps probably don't even line up 1:1 any more.
Today I finally decided to break up with T-Mobile and take my number and Nexus One phone to AT&T, as a prepaid phone (tl;dr - I'm tired of cell phone ISPs locking people in to contracts and then they can't do anything about it when the ISP changes their plans around).

My Nexus One was originally for T-Mobile's network, so it doesn't work with the 3G on AT&T's... but that's fine because my AT&T plan doesn't include data. But, my phone can still use AT&T's Edge network.

I don't want any random background apps using the Edge network and costing me usage fees when I'm out and about. But, if I disable Mobile Data altogether, picture messaging (MMS) stops working too. So after a lot of searching around I seem to have found a way to disable the mobile network for all apps, but still allow MMS to be sent/received using it.

On my Nexus One, from the home screen:

  1. Push the menu button and pick Settings
  2. Pick "Wireless & networks"
  3. Pick "Mobile networks"
  4. Make sure "Data enabled" is checked (MMS won't work either if you disable it here!)
  5. Go to "Access Point Names"
    • On my phone, the only APN here was named "ATT (wap.cingular)"
  6. Scroll down to the "APN type" setting.
    • On my phone, the original value for this setting was "default,supl,mms"
  7. Change its value to be only "mms".
  8. Push the menu button and pick "Save."
After this, I tested it. I was able to send and receive MMS messages (which turned on the Edge network notification), but apps like Facebook, Google+, and the mobile web browser all complained that I didn't have an Internet connection.



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There are 19 comments on this page.

Posted on Tuesday, February 28 2012 @ 11:47:06 AM by rucov.

Thanks for sharing. Helped me a lot.

Posted on Saturday, March 03 2012 @ 04:09:46 PM by Bimo.

Thanks, you helped me.

Posted on Tuesday, July 10 2012 @ 07:46:17 AM by justin.

Thank's I was looking for how to do this.

Posted on Tuesday, July 10 2012 @ 08:13:11 AM by justin.

These are the settings i have in my apn just in case anyone needs them.

Name: AT&T
APN: wap.cingular
Proxy: leave blank
Port: leave blank
Password:CINGULAR1 (yes this is in CAPS)
Server: leave blank
MMS Proxy:
MMS Port: 80
APN Type: mms

Posted on Sunday, August 26 2012 @ 07:22:00 PM by tom.

thanks for sharing, helped a lot :)

Posted on Tuesday, September 04 2012 @ 08:02:33 PM by anonamouse.

I have been trying to figure this out for the last five years. Thank you so much. Much appreciated.

Posted on Thursday, November 01 2012 @ 08:25:06 PM by mag.

when I checked data enabled it said, ' significant roaming charges may apply'. I didn't dare take the chance to continue.

Posted on Tuesday, March 26 2013 @ 06:00:46 PM by holdenrs.

This may be a really old thread, i have no clue, but after doing what you told me, neither data or mms work.

Posted on Tuesday, March 25 2014 @ 07:26:03 AM by jozi.

Just to create a new dummy profile for Internet connection as the MMS will be there ..

Switch to that profile and activate mobile data.
Internet will not work but mms you will get :)


Posted on Saturday, July 19 2014 @ 07:44:11 PM by Heather .

How do you do this on the LG 3. I don't see that option

Posted on Monday, August 11 2014 @ 09:42:23 AM by andrew.

this is clearly an old post but i wanted to thank you for pointing me in the right direction.

i have no data plan but want to use mms. in android 4.4 i'm unable to directly change these settings, but i exported the .db file where all this data gets stored, and edited the appropriate field to only say "default,mms" and now i get mms and nothing else!


Posted on Saturday, August 23 2014 @ 08:06:28 PM by Jay.

how to I do this for the Galaxy s4.

Posted on Sunday, May 08 2016 @ 03:54:22 AM by payney.

gday, we have been having trouble with the same issue on Samsung s2 and s6, data and wifi off no MMS can be sent or retrieved just wifi on no go either, but I have a ASPERA tough phone that if data and wifi are off I can still send and receive MMS, my ASPERA is only a new phone so it may depend on phone or settings I'm with telstra and all good and VODAPHONE say there network wont do MMS without data connection

Posted on Tuesday, December 27 2016 @ 11:39:49 AM by Dave.

Seeing has how the question is specifically about how to do this WITHOUT data...the "make sure data is enabled " point in your solution is ridiculous and stupid. Try answering the question without enabling data and then maybe you will answer the correct question

Posted on Wednesday, December 28 2016 @ 12:41:05 PM by Noah Petherbridge.

Those reading comprehension skills, though...

Make sure "Data enabled" is checked (MMS won't work either if you disable it here!)

If you use that option to disable data usage, then you can not send or receive MMS text messages: so no sending or receiving pictures via text.

My solution has you leave data enabled so that MMS will work (it's the title of this blog post, after all!), and then goes on to further tweak how the data is allowed to be used, so that MMS does work and normal data usage does not.

At any rate, enough things in Android have probably changed since I wrote this post that these steps don't even work today anyway.

Posted on Thursday, December 29 2016 @ 03:12:28 PM by George.

I came across this entry while trying to solve my own "how to MMS without a data plan". Finally solved it today!
T-Mobile plan: Legacy Pay As You Go: 10 cents per minute, 10 cents per SMS, 25 cents per MMS. (no data)
Phone: Moto G4 Play Android 6.0.1
1. Settings>Cellular networks>Data roaming (enabled)
2. Settings>Cellular networks>Enhanced 4G LTE Mode (enabled)
3. Settings>Cellular networks>Access Point Names>T-Mobile US 260 LTE (selected)
4. T-Mobile US 260 LTE settings:
Proxy: Not set
Port: Not set
Username: none
Password: Not set
Server: Not set
MMS proxy: Not set
MMS port: not set
MMC: 310
MNC: 260
Authentication type: Not set
APN type: Not set
APN protocol: IPv4/IPv6
APN roaming protocol: IPv4
Bearer: Unspecified
MVNO type: None
5. Settings>Data usage>Cellular data (enabled)
6. Settings>Data usage>Set cellular data limit (disabled)
7. Settings>Apps>Messenger(default messaging app for my phone)>Data usage>Restrict app background data (disabled)
I can receive MMS using the settings above. Enabling Cellular data was the key. However, my other problem was sending a picture via MMS. The default messaging app did not have an option to attach a photo from stored photos. The key to sending a photo was to select the photo within the "Photo" app, and then "share" the photo with "Messenger". Once I shared the photo with the "Messenger" app, then I had the option to send a message with that photo as an MMS message. Hopefully my solution might help someone else.

Posted on Tuesday, February 07 2017 @ 09:14:58 AM by KentheGeek.

Good Day, Eh?

So "Enabling cellular data was the key" ?
I believe the idea was to use mms WITHOUT using cellular data, no?

Good Day, Eh?
KentheGeek 🇨🇦150

Posted on Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 08:19:16 AM by JDG.

@KentheGeek Cellular data is tagged in different ways and the phone routes it out through Access Points based on how it is tagged. If the data is tagged "MMS", then the phone will prefer an Access Point with that tag. The special type "Default" will match anything that nothing else has matched. So, if you have at Access Point that has only the "Default" tag, MMS will still work. However, if you change your Access Point so that it has only the "MMS" tag, then only data specifically tagged as being for MMS will go through the system.

The cellular provider's network pays close attention to where data is going and bills it accordingly. So, if it notices that the Internet address is an MMS hub, then it checks what your SMS/MMS billing options are. If it is going to somewhere on the Internet that is not specifically recognized, then it gets billed against your data plan (or blocked if you don't have one).

So, if you turn off cellular data entirely, both "Default" and "MMS" data stop working. If you turn on cellular data with the default settings, all types of cellular data are enabled, and you can get billed. But, if your phone allows you to change the access point type, you can make it so that when there is outbound data tagged "Default", it doesn't match that access point and has nowhere to go. This prevents all general Internet access from working, across the board. Since it never leaves your phone, there is no possibility of being billed for it. As long as the access point still has the "MMS" type, though, your MMS messages will be able to go through.

For those curious, I Googled the "SUPL" type, and it stands for Secure User Plane Location, and is a type of data access that provides the phone with all the baseline information needed for GPS positioning. (This is called Assisted GPS, or A-GPS.)

There are three main things that a GPS receiver has to determine in order to work, independently for each satellite: 1) Can it see the satellite at all? 2) What is the exact frequency of the satellite's signal? The satellite is moving quickly, causing Doppler effects that increase or decrease the effective frequency by small but significant amounts, and, 3) How long is the signal taking to get from the satellite to the receiver? Once the GPS receiver has this information for a certain minimum number of satellites, it can estimate your position, and the more satellites it has, the better the estimation.

The problem is, scanning for this information from scratch can take up to 30 seconds per satellite. An unassisted GPS unit can take several minutes to have fully locked onto 6+ satellites and have a reasonably accurate signal. For mobile devices, this delay is unacceptable. So, they operate servers that store all that information and keep it up-to-date for each geographic area. When you turn on GPS on your phone, it reaches out to the SUPL servers and says, "Feed me the GPS numbers", and it gets a burst of data telling it what satellites are visible, roughly what Doppler shift to expect in the transmission, and how to interpret the time codes being received. All this is then immediately usable, and your phone can give you a GPS fix within a second or two.

As with MMS-related data, cellular providers do not charge your data plan for this type of information. So, you could set up the Access Point to have a type of "mms,supl" and get both MMS and fast GPS initialization without risking Internet access charges.

Posted on Tuesday, February 21 2017 @ 08:26:45 AM by JDG.

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