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Are ads killing your battery?

what's hidden in AndroidOS and "System"

If it’s one thing we can all agree on about our phones, it’s that we would LOVE better battery power.  Non-stop is the progress these devices are making and the draw that they require increases along with it.  Take for example the new iPad (ptoo), it has a bigger battery in the device, yet still has the same life as its predecessor.

I talked recently about some of the better practices on battery cycling, and Tom has done a couple reviews on better batteries for your device (nexus, SGS2, …).  There is plenty we can do to try to limit our phone draw, but there might be something else we haven’t thought of.

Recently it’s been flying around the blogs about a study by Purdue and Microsoft discusses that ‘lite’ version of apps that are ad-supported can drain your battery more than the paid (non-ad) versions.

If you read the study, and I’ll leave you to peruse through it, it has some pretty technical talk in it (which is okay for an ex science researcher like myself, but I tire easily these days).  But it boils down to a couple hard facts.  I’ll leave New Scientist to sum it as they did so nicely:

When they looked at popular apps such as Angry Birds, Free Chess and NYTimes they found that only 10 to 30 per cent of the energy was spent powering the app’s core function.

For example, in Angry Birds only 20 per cent is used to display and run the game, while 45 per cent is spent finding and uploading the user’s location with GPS then downloading location-appropriate ads over a 3G connection. The 3G connection stays open for around 10 seconds, even if data transmission is complete, and this “tail energy” consumes another 28 per cent of the app’s energy.

If you look at my screenshot of my battery usage above 31% goes to a nebulous OS/System for Android.  Is that ad searching/features part of that 31%, and if it could be lowered by half, my phone could live as long as 15% more (roughly another hour and a half maybe).

However, when you look at a game like Angry Birds, it tends to kill the battery pretty quickly on its own.  And if you’re using ad-supported apps sparingly as it is, is it really amounting to that much usage anyways?

Your thoughts?

Is this a ploy to get us to buy more apps?  If I think of all the apps I have on my phone that are ad-supported, and look at what the related cost of a paid version would be, that might get up into the hundreds of dollars.  For that much, I might just purchase a second battery (Tom’s got some recommendations).

Follow Ryan on G+ I no longer write for AiC, but you can follow me on over to Android Coliseum Oh, and here's my shameless plug for more space! Minus (I've maxed out!) | DropBox | SugarSync | CX

  • Anonymous

    adblock ftw!

  • Anonymous

    One thought: Adfree Android
    available for $0 in the android market

  • Mark A.

    I need to review my recent downloads/purchases. My SGSIILTE has had pretty damn great battery life all things considered since I got it late last year. Some days I’d play and surf on it seemingly for hours and the battery would be fine right to evening.

    Then a few days ago I noticed the battery seemed to be running down REALLY fast which was odd because I’ve been too busy to play with my phone much. Checking the battery usage yesterday showed the screen having only consumed 15% of the power and Android OS at over 50%!