Personal Hotspot: "Other devices" using large amount of data (really?)

While I have “unlimited” mobile data, I still tend to check my mobile data usage in the iOS Settings App at the end of every month. For November I was surprised to see that “Other devices” used around 90 GB of mobile data via the Personal Hotspot (which is password protected). I usually consume around 10 GB of mobile data, with all my devices combined. The “extra” 80 GB were not on the carrier bill. For December I saw around 60 GB used by those same “Other devices” (no carrier bill yet). And today (after resetting the counter) I already see 4 GB there (in a single day).

These “Other devices” are not my MacBook Pro or iPad Pro, as those are listed separately.

  1. How can I find out which devices are “Other devices”?
  2. Could this be a bug in a recent version of iOS 17?

I’ve got the same situation with Other Devices being most of the usage. It’s about 18GB since my last reset several months ago, and it’s all from one laptop and one iPad, and that figure’s in the right ballpark. The other devices listed have 20MB between them.

This does not work properly and I also have 99% of my hotspot usage listed under ‘other devices’ even though I know 99% of that is from my iPad Pro. I have two iPhones and it’s the same on both.

I believe the issue is that if you have Private WiFi Address switched on for any particular network (including the hotspot device/network) in WiFi settings, the device will spoof (randomise) the MAC address so it cannot be tracked across networks via the (hardware) network address – leading to the phone not recognising it in stats as the same device. It probably sees tens if not hundreds of devices over the course of the month when it does the stats as your MAC address may change each time you connect via hotspot (or connect to any other WiFi network).

The clue is that all my devices are listed not by their names, but their MAC addresses. But that’s just an assumption.

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For iOS I could find this documentation:

This document suggests that the MAC address will not change each time you connect to the same network. At least for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Unfortunately, I could not find such info for Mac.

Are “private Wi-Fi addresses” even available on Mac?

It is correct that it does not randomise a new MAC address each time when connected to the network it was previously connected to, but I do believe there is some timeout on that (other than the circumstances the support article describes) as I sometimes find ‘new’ devices on my home WiFi only for them to turn out to be known i* devices or a watch.

No, I don’t think these have been implemented on macOS so it’s probably not that then…

99.99% of my hotspot data usage on both phones is filed under Other devices even though I can be sure that’s all from my iPad Pro.

Received the carrier bill today: 8 GB in December (more like what I expected).

I guess this is an iOS 17 bug…

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