Study – Over 70% of Android Battery Drain Caused By Ads

We all have them… apps installed on our phones that are ad-supported. Ads are a fundamental part of the Google ecosystem, and many Android developers have found they are able to make some money by including ads in their apps and giving the app away for free. It’s a win-win system. Or is it?

Researchers from Purdue University, working with Microsoft, have discovered that potentially up to 75% of an app’s battery drain is caused by not the app itself, but rather the ad-serving processes the app uses. The research team developed an energy profiler they named EProf, which can measure the battery use of not only the app, but every thread the app spawns. The team then tested five Android apps, including Angry Birds, FreeChess, and the New York Times. All testing was done on a Nexus One running Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

Lead researcher Abhinav Pathak measured energy usage for one level of Angry Birds and found that the game itself only accounted for about 30% of the total battery drain. The remaining 70% was divided between serving up advertising and uploading user data. The user data is only uploaded once, however the ads are displayed throughout the game, draining the battery continually. It’s no wonder companies like NVIDIA are working on more efficient and lower power chips.

Similar results occurred with the other apps. Interestingly, the native browser as well as the New York Times app spent around 15% of their battery usage on user tracking processes.

The research team was not trying to expose a specific app for using too much juice. Their intention was to help developers and advertisers make their processes more efficient by providing the EProf software as an open-source tool.

So does this study make anyone think about paying for the ad-free version of apps? A buck or two seems like a reasonable price for keeping my battery in check.

source: microsoft research (pdf)
via: theverge

About the Author: Ed Caggiani

Originally from the East Coast, Ed now makes his home in San Jose, California. His passion for technology started with his first ColecoVision and Atari gaming systems, and has grown stronger through Tandy computers, IBM clones, Palm Pilots, and PocketPCs. Ed's love for Android began with his first HTC Hero, then blossomed with the original Evo 4G, and now the Evo 3D and Motorola Xoom. He graduated from Syracuse University with a B.S. in Communications, and is now a professional User Experience Designer working in Silicon Valley. In his spare time, Ed enjoys video games, jamming on guitar, and spending time with his wife, two cats, and Logitech Revue.

  • Pascal Spamspam

    Or just install an adblocker and a tool to limit the apps access on different data. I block all ads on my device due to exactly what the post says. too much battery drain, data usage and user tracking. Once they do just what they are supposed to, show me an ad for a product which doesnt reduce my devices usefullness, then I will return to allowing those. but as long as apps request permisions for contact user data etc. they either get no internet access or get restricted access to the internet only and nothing else. its either netaccess or private data access when will those f**** understand it?

    • Anonymous

      So what app do you use to limit your apps access on different data?

  • Anonymous

    So, will using an ad blocker help or is all the draining of the battery already done in the background of the app?

  • BleedingEdge

    I think most Android users understand that free apps usually involve add support. What is really irksome is when PAID apps have active ad providers built in. Evidently some developers who model the standard/pro versions of apps (where ‘pro’ is promoted as ‘ad free’) require the standard version to be installed first. Then you buy a ‘pro’ key to supposedly unlock the pro features. It seems buying the pro key doesn’t disable the ad provider. I was pretty annoyed when I ran a check using ROM Toolbox and found that lots of apps that I’ve paid for the pro additions still have active ad providers attached. Case in point is Astro Pro – I’ll mention them because they’re first (alpha-order) in the list. Astro Pro still showed AdMob and Millenial as being detected and not disabled. The list goes on. Now the question is, those supposedly ad free paid apps that have ad providers may not run ads in the programs BUT do the ad providers still upload user data? Why aren’t the ad providers disabled at least when a ‘pro’ key is installed? How about an article exposing this practice and naming names?

  • Guest

    What a shock!  Who would have thought that constantly fetching text and graphics from the network… over and over again.. 1000s of times..  would use battery resources.

  • Mugen Power

    That is an interesting observation!

  • Mugen Power

    Testing was done on Nexus One. Would be great to see same tests to be done on a newer phone preferably from HTC.

    • Samuel Marano Jr

      HTC phones aren’t exactly known for their batter sipping as it is. I know it took my a long time to get my OG EVO to last me throughout the day :- Unrooted devices are probably all these studies will look at because rooting isn’t exactly a common practice for most of the Android user base and last time I checked Ad blockers require root access. I could be wrong though.