Are Free Smartphone Apps Draining Your Battery?


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Keep that portable smartphone charger handy if you use free apps: Image by groenmen

Free Smartphone Apps and Ads

Unfortunately, advertisements on your free apps can turn your fully charged smartphone into a very expensive paperweight in just a few hours. When asked how consumers can protect themselves from app-related power drain, Dr. Hu responded:

There is always the choice between paid apps versus free apps, and often different versions of free apps for the same game. We are developing a rating system that will rate the energy efficiency of apps to help consumers. 

A Dead Smartphone Battery: So What?

If you think that you can’t live without Angry Birds or Facebook, keep the potential consequences of power drain in mind when you download your popular apps. First of all, you don’t want to find your phone dead when you need it most. Secondly, running your phone’s battery down completely and then recharging is bad for a smartphone’s battery. Over time, charges will last for shorter and shorter periods, until you’re forced to replace the phone completely.

Whether you end up with a powerless phone for an afternoon, or your expensive smartphone suffers an untimely demise – those free apps could end up costing a lot more than you thought. Are they worth it to you?


Pathak, A., Hu, Y. C., Zhang, M. Where is the Energy Spent Inside My App? Fine Grained Energy Accounting on Smartphones with Eprof. (2012). In Proceedings of EuroSys: European Conference on Computer Systems, Bern, Switzerland, April 10-13.

Purdue University. Free apps drain smartphone energy on ‘advertising modules’. (2012). Accessed April 6, 2012.

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