Free Apps May Lower Your Smartphone Battery Life from 2.5 to 2.1 hours, New Study Reveals
Most smartphone users prefer to download the free app as opposed to purchasing the premium version, even if it costs just $0.99. The reason is simple: Nothing’s better than free! But a recent study reveals that free apps do come with a price, as they cost you in the form of battery drainage, eating up network data, and using more internal memory.
A team of researchers at USC, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and Queen’s University in Canada did a comparison study of apps with ads and those without ads to see how both these types fare against each other when considering battery life and phone performance.
They found that apps with ads use an average of 16 percent more energy, but some may use up to 33 percent. That results in lowering the battery life expectancy from 2.5 to 2.1 hours on average, or even down to 1.7 hours at the high end of energy usage.
Further, the research revealed that ads in apps can eat up an average of 48 percent more CPU time. As for network data, it was found that, on average, the free apps use around 79 percent more network data, which costs an estimated 1.7 cents every time you open them (based on the average cost per MB charged by AT&T).
Well, now that we’ve results of the comparison study in front of us, the next question one may ask is: Are they enough to impact our daily smartphone use? William Halfond, the co-author of the study, explains these findings as follows:
In absolute terms, this is very low, but in the crowded and competitive world of apps it’s a huge difference. It can make the difference between your app getting downloaded or going unnoticed.
From consumer perspective, the research team found that users tended to rate ads versions of apps 0.003 stars lower on average (out of a possible five stars), which somehow depicts their frustrations with the hidden cost of these free apps.
In context of all these findings, Halfond wants to create models that will allow app developers to predict how well their products will be received by the public — both with and without ads.
“Apps are the future of software,” he said. “The thought that we’ll all be continuing to consume software on desktops is passé.”
Gohar is the lead editor at TechFrag. He has a wide range of interests when it comes to tech but he's currently spending a big chunk of his time writing about privacy, cyber security, and anything policy related.