Is Android’s Data Guzzling Over-flogged?

smartphone-platforms-data-consumption

In response to Olamide’s recent article, Moving On With Android, Stuck On BlackBerry, lomg-time Mobilista, EyebeeKay submitted the following: Moving On With Android, Stuck On BlackBerry:

this android data guzzling is an over-flogged fallacy.

It is a matter of your consumption pattern, rather than Android itself.

if you wish to enjoy low data consumption, do most of your internet access via a server assisted web browser like Opera Mini.

and follow other tips given on this site and elsewhere.

In other words, you would not have apps like Falcon, gReader or Facebook syncing interminably in the background and still expect abysmal data consumption.

The above sounds like a sound defense of Android, yet it contains information that nails Android as guilty. The key info in there is in the last paragraph/sentence which admits that 1) there is indeed huge data consumption, and 2) that it is due to apps that constantly sync in the background.

This is the problem that I have with every defense of Android on the issue of data consumption. First, the defender attempts to write it off as a non-issue. Then, the defender admits that the data consumption happens. Finally, the defender offers solutions. I remember an article many months ago, in which Android users claimed that there was no data guzzling issue with Android, and then stated how they used certain data monitoring apps and steps to keep their data consumption low. It was all hilarious.

Data Syncing

Android is built in such a way that apps are constantly syncing in the background by default. The implementation of multi-tasking on Android means that apps that are in the background run for the most part, and those that need an internet connection just keep connecting. This is not how every mobile OS is built. Someone coming from Symbian/Belle, for example, is in for a data consumption shock on Android, because that is not exactly how Symbian/Belle works. The background syncing thing is mostly strange to Belle. Do you see it clearly? Android is the culprit. it is guilty as charged because of the fundamental nature it is built to work.

Google’s Data Collection

There is also the issue of Google collecting huge amounts of user data and usage patterns in the background and storing them on their servers. This is what Google lives on, and is part of the reason why Android is free. Well, it turns out that you, the end user, still get to pay for it somehow. All that data do add up. And it costs something to transmit them. This is in addition to the various ad-supported apps who also contribute to the stackup. Of course, this is not peculiar to Android alone.

Head In The Sand?

No; I do not think that Android’s data guzzling is over-flogged. Everyone who jumps on the Android train is hit by it and notices it, almost regardless of what platforms they are coming from. It is a real problem to people.

No; it is not just a matter of people’s consumption patterns. The very way that Android itself is built to work is a vital part of the picture.

Instead of calling it over-flogged and attempting to water down the issue, what we should be doing is educating people as to how to go around it. Teach people that they can disable auto-sync. Teach people that there are apps that can be used to manage this problem. It is a problem for millions of people. Some of us can sit on our high horses and turn a blind eye to it. Many cannot. If it guzzles that much data – and it does – their pockets cannot support it.

Deal with the problem; stop denying it.

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About The Author: Mister Mobility

Mobile, Digital Media, Music. Owned over 100 mobiles. Adventurer. Ladies' Man. Follow him on Twitter @Mister_Mobility, on LinkedIn at YomiAdegboye, and circle him on Google+. Listen to his music on SoundCloud.

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42 comments for “Is Android’s Data Guzzling Over-flogged?

  1. olusheenor
    January 9, 2013 at 07:46

    so some people still dunno how to deal with this android data issue. Geeks live in their own world sha lol….

  2. January 9, 2013 at 07:49

    Olusheenor,

    Well said. We “geeks” live in a world that is foreign to most people. I see that everyday when people contact me for help about these things.

  3. January 9, 2013 at 07:51

    When I was on symbian 2 years back, I used to browse without images to conserve data…. I switched to blackberry and was spoilt by its unlimited data and data compression despite its many shortcomings. I think I’d just stick with BB for now.

    By the way been hearing so much hype about the Tecno n3 Android phone.
    Would we expect a review for it?

  4. January 9, 2013 at 08:15

    Hi Peter,

    I’d be glad to do a Tecno N3 review as soon as I can get my hands on one.

  5. olusheenor
    January 9, 2013 at 08:25

    But like seriously, is this data guzzling thing android only problem? Does WP8 and iOS work like belle? No background sync??

  6. January 9, 2013 at 08:58

    Olusheenor,

    No; it isn’t an Android-only problem. However, it is heaviest on Android.

  7. January 9, 2013 at 09:39

    hmm.

    the way I see this, if you run your car in gear one permanently (on a manual transmission car), you will have monstrous data consumption.

    you can then shout to high heavens what a data guzzling car you have. Bit you would be missing the point.

    If you do not use the correct gearing when driving, why blame the car? why not educate yourself on proper driving habits?

    Same with Android.

    it is simply a matter of HOW you drive your car.

    if you fail to put water in your car radiator, do not complain that your car overheats.

    A matter of how you use your Android.

    Electricity is useful. it is also used in some jurisdictions in the form of death penalty.

    Does that make electricity good or bad?

    It is a matter of HOW you make use of it.

    I use Android. I struggle to use up 10Megabyes a day. The newly liberalized GLO 3Gigabytes for N1.500 BLACKBERRY plan, usable on other smartphone -does not excite me – because I can hardly finish the current AirTell 1 Gigabyte / month for N1.200). So, I am sticking,and savingmyself N300 / month.

    I would conclude that, the modern smartphone is more complex that the desktops of yesteryears.

    People used to pay tutors to teach them how to use those computers properly, and to advise them on technical things.

    it is the same with smartphones, and don’t let us pretend otherwise.

    if you do not know how to utilize an Android phone properly,and therefore get data depleted expeditiously, don’t blame Android.

    blame yourself for not getting education in using a powerful tool the proper way.

    or, stick with a feature phone. or better still – “Belle”

  8. Efe
    January 9, 2013 at 10:46

    Android data guzzling is overflogged and overexaggerated. I use to blow 1GB in less than two weeks and I so easily blamed android. Right now, I share that 1GB between two android devices and it lasts up to a month. What changed? My habit. Mind you, i dont use any third party data saving app. I dont even use the native monitoring feature on ics. Someone gets an android phone, syncs all his facebook pics, downloads tons and tons of apps he doesn’t use, watch youtube videos indiscrimately and then come out to complain that android guzzles data. Is it that when you do all these things on symbian, your data will not be guzzled because it is symbian? I had a symbian phone and I was guzzling data as much as I was on android. Its all about your habit. Newbies to android are usually overwhelmed by its limitless features they tend to want to explore every one of them. In the process, they guzzle data and blame the OS. I have a friend who joined the android party after me. When he got his phone, I tried in vain to get him to buy an Airtel sim for cheap 1GB data. He opted for etisalat because it was faster and buys the 500 MB bundle. Not once has he complained about lack of data. I have another female friend who uses 200MB monthly on her HTC Desire. Sometimes, she doesnt even exhaust it. Bottomline is, android is not the problem, the user is. If syncing is guzzling your data, turn it off. It is not mandatory and would not affect the performance of your phone. Stop streaming youtube videos like it is DSTV and stop downloading apps you don’t use!

  9. Harry Echemco
    January 9, 2013 at 11:26

    Yes, I believe this Android data issue is over flogged. If someone using a Symbian phone has to learn to configure the APN settings manually, why is it such a crime for another using Android phone to simply disable Auto Sync? The fact is that people pick Android phones fire up apps like YouTube which, is probably not on Symbian by default and after watching video clips for minutes or hours, they except the bill to go through someone’s account and they come back later to complain that Android is data hungry. That’s plain stupid. Do same on Symbian and you will certainly get the same result.

    I read a tutorial here on Mobility Blog on how to configure some apps on BB so that users of BB are not billed through their credits when they use such apps. why not leave those configuration and use those apps, have your credit drained and come back to blame BB devices. Or still, use apps like YouTube on Etisalat BB services and comeback to blame BB devices. Can anyone tell me the difference it would make for someone using iPhone, Windows Phone, Symbian/Belle or Blackberry smartphones when watching YouTube videos on any of these platforms as against Android on say Airtel’s BB Social plan that is now usable on all platforms. How is any of these platforms better in data consumption in this scenario?

    Was it not on this blog too that an article was addressed to users of smartphones. I think it is: Users of Smartphones Ought To Be Smart. So what are we talking about. Most of the mobile data activities going on on a BB device goes through RIM’s server and are thus compressed, so why can’t someone using an Android device use Opera Mini to achieve data compression that is on par with what RIM is offering through BB devices?

    Eye.Bee.Kay knows what he is talking about because he had used Symbian devices. He used to configure APNs on Symbian and knows that disabling Auto Sync on Android is a whole lot easier. Yes, Android consumes more data than say BB devices but that does not merit discussion anymore as though that ought to be a huge disadvantage against other platforms. People simply need to start taking responsibility rather than pointing accusing finger.

  10. January 9, 2013 at 11:41

    Totally agree with everyone that posted a comment, sometimes in school there is no time to do too much browsing and tweeting, so i use ucbrowser images off cos it saves data than operamini,i stop using twitter,facebook apps and the likes, do everything through uc browser ,deactivate sync of contacts and mails,i only turn on mobile data when am in need of it,i tell you i do manage the 15mb data plan etisalat gives in a week.

  11. Efe
    January 9, 2013 at 11:55

    @Harry, I just tire. The whole thing is a myth. Fallacy. Meanwhile, there are BB users that consume upwards of 2GB every month all in the name of unlimited data. All the review videos I have on my tab were downloaded on BB using etisalat unlimited service. All of them are HD videos. I wouldn’t dream of downloading them without unlimited data. A friend of mine that uses MTN BB complete plan usually boasts of killing mtn by downloading upwards of 3GB per week! So what are we saying? All platforms guzzle data if you engage in data guzzling activities

  12. January 9, 2013 at 12:18

    LOL!

    All those crazy and extreme scenarios that you apologists are describing tickle me to no end. I don’t do all those extreme things, yet in my comparisons over the last two years and involving similar usage patterns, data guzzling on Android is a fact. I have to turn off almost every auto sync process on my Android devices to bring data consumption down to levels obtained on other platforms.

    Over-flogged my behind :-)

  13. January 9, 2013 at 12:20

    And I pray fervently, that the spirit of this Android data_guzzling FALLACY may be interred – forever and ever in Mobile Name.

    Amen, somebody!

    • January 9, 2013 at 15:45

      EyeBeeKay,

      Prayers! That efficacious solution to all problems that refuse to go away. I say a resounding Amen!
      :-)

  14. Efe
    January 9, 2013 at 12:21

    @eyebeekay, Another prevalent myth is that BBs have cheaper data plans because they use much less data than other platforms. I told anybody who cared to listen that data consumption has nothing to do with it. It was a simple case of majority having the say and RIM’s self styled service. I remember saying on this blog that in some countries, BIS services are more expensive than normal smartphone bundles. The mad rush for BB made BIS bundles so competitive, our networks had to bend to save their business while neglecting other platforms because they were not so popular. I also said as android becomes popular, the trend will shift and cheaper bundles similar to BIS bundles will emerge. But many insisted that data consumption was the determinant. What are we seeing today? Android is getting popular and network providers are shifting ground to accomodate it. For months, Airtel 1GB BB complete and social plans have been open to other smartphones and as you said Glo has followed suit with its 3GB plan. I expect the other two to do same in the coming months. Doesn’t this prove that the data consumption issue is overexaggerated?

  15. Efe
    January 9, 2013 at 12:31

    @Mr Mo, its fallacy. If we ever get the opportunity to meet, I would show you my tab. I have auto sync on because without it, I wouldn’t receive messages on my gmail instantly. However, I do not auto-sync facebook photos or download excessively and my data consumption is normal. I buy airtel’s 1GB bundle and share it between my android phone and tablet, yet it is sufficient. Nevermind the fact that am an excessive user (relatively). I occasionally watch few youtube videos on both tab and phone. Yet, I don’t complain of data guzzling. Do us a favor and sync all your accounts on blackberry at regular intervals. Make sure when a friend uploads a picture on facebook, your phone adds it to your offline album and see how much data you would use. Also configure your phone to watch youtube apps and download any app you see. Then come back and give us feedback on how much data you used

    • January 9, 2013 at 15:41

      Efe,

      Thanks for your guide. But it is very late. If you re-read my comments above, I did mention that Ibhave done my comparisons.

  16. January 9, 2013 at 12:57

    A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

    an exercise in cerebral futility

    but then, any, ANY exercise has its benefits, even if ephemeral or unquantifiable.

  17. Harry Echemco
    January 9, 2013 at 14:51

    You don’t do extreme scenarios. Really? The tutorial on BB configuration I was talking about was written by you or was that not what you mean by extreme scenario? You used to configure your Symbian devices for internet browsing or maybe it won’t be an extreme scenario because Mr. Mo said so? And you have pointed us the Mobilistas to some YouTube video links you produced and uploaded yourself, those are not part of the extreme scenarios you are talking about?

    People that use Android devices are saying it clearly that the Android data guzzling complaints are simply not true. Only those who have not used Android are still complaining or leaving in fear. Mr. Mo, it is obvious that you are the real apologist in this matter because you are trying to twist facts to suit your very weak stand.

    I’m really enjoying your feeble efforts at justifying your claims. LOL.

    • January 9, 2013 at 15:43

      Harry,

      Don’t get cheeky. It is my job to know as much as there is to know anout every platform and to share them with my readers. Any help articles that I publish here do not necesarilly reflect my personal daily usage patterns :-)

  18. January 9, 2013 at 16:17

    I
    also said as android
    becomes popular, the
    trend will shift and
    cheaper bundles similar to
    BIS bundles will emerge.
    But many insisted that
    data consumption was the
    determinant. What are we
    seeing today? Android is
    getting popular and
    network providers are
    shifting ground to
    accomodate it.

    you certainly have a point there.

    i can bet my golden boot that Etisalat and the YHello folks will soon conform.

    otherwise, “ground will be taller than them”!

  19. Harry Echemco
    January 9, 2013 at 16:45

    Don’t get cheeky. It is my job to know as much as there is to know anout every platform and to share them with my readers. Any help articles that I publish here do not necesarilly reflect my personal daily usage patterns

    I’m sorry sir if I did get cheeky with my comments. And yes, I guess that was the problem. I mean your daily usage pattern. You see, I really think your daily usage pattern is far removed from the ordinary and ought not be used to judge, compare or conclude on the daily usage pattern of us mere mortals. It can actually scare the likes of Eye.Bee.Kay, Efe, Afewgoodmen and the likes who were initially scared by the litany of articles here devoted to the intractable nature Android data guzzling, but we have these guys who had ignorantly but innocently joined the crusade against Android and its data guzzling now turning into apostles of the Android ecosystem because they have been disabused of their ignorance through actual usage.

  20. January 9, 2013 at 16:57

    Harry,

    No offense ;-) Thought I could spice up the discussions a bit with that.

  21. Harry Echemco
    January 9, 2013 at 17:09

    @Mr. Mo:

    No offence taken, only hoping this is not the gift of a Trojan Horse.

    Thank you all the same.

  22. @nelsonisibor
    January 9, 2013 at 21:02

    If someone has to go through all these steps to manage data on Android that shows there’s an underling issue with data consumption.

    Apart from die hard geeks who would go to any length to conserve data would a normal every day user be prepared to go through all this many protocols.

    I remember a quote credited to Google’s CEO published here a while back by Mr Mobility, he said google couldn’t really expand like they would want to in Africa because of data.

    That’s an admission of this data issue with respect to Android.

  23. Efe
    January 10, 2013 at 10:29

    @nelson, there is no protocol. Nobody is asking you to alter your ip address or do any complicated task. What we are saying his, you can’t run a dozen airconditioners, heaters and other heavy equipments and expect your power consumption to be low. Simply turn of these gadgets to keep your cost down. Is that protocol? When someone buys an android phone, he signs in into picassa, google+, twitter, skype, facebook and so on. He then syncs all data including photos and expects his data cost to be low. Isn’t that stupidity? I keep my background data on but limit syncing to my email accounts. Before the advent of cheap mobile bundles, I used pay as you go and 10MB daily bundle for my symbian. In order to keep my 10mb for the whole 24 hours, I avoided using youtube and Facebook symbian app. I remember one time i had #100 on my phone with no bundle. I fired up the facebook app for Nokia smartphones and in less than 3 minutes, the entire #100 was gone. Should i blame symbian or my naivity for losing so much? Even when bundles became available, they were expensive. I still had to avoid using apps like youtube and socially. I once synced my socially account and i regretted it at once. So the bottomline is, whether you are using symbian, android, ios and blackberry, you would consume data as long as you engage in certain browsing activities. Just look at the amount of data some BB users consume and you would be shocked.

  24. Efe
    January 10, 2013 at 10:42

    About the google guy saying data is a problem in africa. It is a no brainer. Before the advent of bundles, how many people could comfortably browse with their java phones even though they consume little data? As little as two years ago, a large number of people were using cheats to browse. Wasn’t that a bane on the expansion of phones in generally? I repeat, BBs have cheaper plans not because of low data consumption but because of RIMs specialised service and the popularity of BBs in Nigeria. Our service providers don’t see the need to compete fiercely for other platform users because they a few. In other countries, BIS plans are sometimes more expensive. That explains why java phones do not have cheaper bundles. Java is not a lucrative market like BB in Nigeria.

  25. Harry Echemco
    January 10, 2013 at 11:20

    Excellent one there efe.

    I remember a lady in 2007 who recently acquired a Sony Ericsson K750i and heard that Bible is free on the Internet. She had a little over a thousand naira in her account and that was when pay as you browse was still at 55k/KB. She fired up here browser and searched for free Bible for Java enabled mobile phones and got the link to jolon site devoted to Bible for J2ME phones and to her delight and pleasant surprise, the Bible files were really free as she was told.

    Well she proceeded to click and initiate the download process which unfortunately didn’t complete because she did not have enough credit on her account to complete the download of the 1.4MB worth of file. She later went complaining that MTN stole her credit because she saw that the Bible files were actually offered for free. Her case is simply ignorance like someone coming from Symbian world who doesn’t have a YouTube video app on his/her previous Symbian phone, fascinated that he/she can just access myriads of free video on her new phone without considering that someone will still have to pay the bills for transporting the videos from their remote locations on the Internet to the phone.

  26. jujukemist
    January 10, 2013 at 23:35

    gosh! Mr Mo, I sympathize with you. As if we all do not use Android phones. I began to wonder with all this disconnected analogies,how did people passed their A levels in School?
    I am so weary to make comments,because I sense the Force of entrenched positions. But common test will tell you, that with auto sync off and without launching any application,Android data still leaks out,as revealed by Un launched Data managers.And yet this is not about dislike of an Os. Infact with more data availability for Android, who needs a Blackberry?

  27. Harry Echemco
    January 11, 2013 at 04:30

    @jujukemist:

    For someone who must have passed his A Levels in school, let’s analyze how well you performed grammatically in your short comment.

    gosh! Mr Mo, I sympathize with you. As if we all do not use Android phones. I began to wonder with all this disconnected analogies,how did people passed their A levels in School?
    I am so weary to make comments,because I sense the Force of entrenched positions. But common test will tell you, that with auto sync off and without launching any application,Android data still leaks out,as revealed by Un launched Data managers.And yet this is not about dislike of an Os. Infact with more data availability for Android, who needs a Blackberry?

    gosh!: For someone wondering how others passed their exams, someone should have taught you in your primary school days to always start the first letter of the first word of a new paragraph with a capital letter.
    this: Should read these, the plural form.
    analogies,how: Again, this is something you should have learnt in primary school. For this instance and numerous other places you made similar mistakes, there should be a space between your punctuation mark and the next word after the punctuation mark.
    passed: That should be pass and not passed.
    School: What informed the decision of capitalizing the first letter of school?
    weary: That should be wary and not weary.
    Un launched Data managers: What exactly do you mean by “Un launched Data managers?”
    Os: That’s an acronym and should all be capitalized like this: OS.
    Infact: Infact is not a word. It should be: In fact.

    With your wariness, spending over 24 hours just to get this right, it is really appalling that you still came out with this. There are 98 words in your comment, fewer than 100 words and there are 14 glaring mistakes, and I still have to ignore the less serious ones like capitalizing words at random. It is shocking that you have the temerity to question other people’s academic integrity. How did you even make it through secondary school? This is Nigeria anyway.

    It is very unfortunate because, I sincerely want to believe that you know what you intended to say but when you could not get it out right, nobody will understand you. I read through your comment, but apart from those glaring mistakes and of course your servile signature, I couldn’t make sense of what you were trying to say in the entire second paragraph.

  28. January 11, 2013 at 07:41

    @Harry, great minds discuss ideas,; mediocre ones discuss personalities.

    you are a great mind.

    Do not dissipate so much cerebral energy on a non_character.

    We don’t want to put gold around a swine’s neck, do we?

    It is instructive to bear in mind my modified platitude – “silence is the best answer for a mentally and grammatically bereft personality”!

  29. jujukemist
    January 11, 2013 at 09:09

    “appalling”
    where is the letter u?
    oops! @H no harry doesnt make mistakes hehehehe.since i made no sense in your language. I shall perhaps try ARABIC.

  30. jujukemist
    January 11, 2013 at 09:24

    I remember a lady in
    2007 who recently
    acquired a Sony
    Ericsson K750i

    check out this trader’s pidgin, for this cannot be English language: How possible for a lady in 2007 to recently acquire a phone? @Harry’s lifestyle.
    Notice I didnt mentioned the other one that was permanently disgraced on this blog,whom we all stuck out our necks for,worthless piece of S**t.
    Let our history here judge us all. mafi mishkila!

  31. Harry Echemco
    January 11, 2013 at 09:41

    It’s becoming obvious that you are a half-wit and maybe a waste of time trying to put you to the right.

    Appalling is not derived from Paul and so no “u” in the spelling. Are you a sound follower? I think your wariness serves you a lot better than your attempt at expressing yourself because the more you try to comment, the more you expose your emptiness. I can imagine people around you look up to you as an institution, so enjoy that but don’t try to prove it in the open.

  32. January 11, 2013 at 09:59

    …..lol

    best entertainment I have had this year from a total ..(insertt any descriptive adjective)…!

    but then, each time somebody opens he mouth, he exposes how empty or sound he is.

    ApPAULing! A new non_word NOT to add to my overflowing vocabulary.

    Notice I didnt mentioned the other one that was permanently disgraced on
    this blog,whom we all stuck out our necks for,worthless. piece ofS**t.

    Erudite peace of scholarly expressiveness abi?

  33. Noni
    January 11, 2013 at 10:07

    Gotta love Naija sites where topics rapidly deteriorate to tit-for-tat!

    Mr Mo, to a degree I believe it is overflogged. Lammy would have found it the same whether she went to WP or iOS.

    The illusion most BB users have is that all phones consume data like a BB. I have a friend who made the transition to WP form BB and complained it consumed too much data. I explained to him that you have to turn off the data so it doesn’t sync at regular intervals or at least change the app settings. He said “why should I? I never did with my Blackberry”

    If turning off settings that auto sync is now classed as a “geeky” thing, maybe it’s not about being smart and owning a smartphone after all.

  34. January 11, 2013 at 10:38

    Gotta love Naija sites where topics rapidly
    deteriorate to tit-for-tat!

    yeah.

    the problem of course rears its ugly head where someone makes a comment on personalities or their competence, rather than focusing on the topic at hand..

    Imagine an academic illiterate exposing himself to opprobrium by not acknowledging his ignorance incapacity.

    one good thing to take away from this, though, is how to learn to maintain a dignified silence where your superiors are talking!

  35. jujukemist
    January 11, 2013 at 15:17

    I remember a lady in
    2007 who recently
    acquired a Sony
    Ericsson K750i
    check out this trader’s
    pidgin, for this cannot
    be English language:
    How possible for a lady
    in 2007 to recently
    acquire a phone?
    @Harry’s lifestyle.

  36. olusheenor
    January 11, 2013 at 18:49

    hilarious….lol

  37. Noni
    January 11, 2013 at 18:59

    Ah Eye.Bee.Kay, the bane of many a conversation online, the superiority complex!

  38. January 11, 2013 at 19:48

    @Noni, abi oooo. needed to put thus dirt in the appropriate dustbin!

  39. Belushi
    January 12, 2013 at 03:16

    Loooll… These days I get to read articles too late. See all these mad fun I’ve been missing. Lol.

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