Revisiting network energy efficiency of mobile apps: Performance in the wild

Sanae Rosen, Ashkan Nikravesh, Yihua Guo, Z. Morley Mao, Feng Qian, Subhabrata Sen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

30 Scopus citations


Energy consumption due to network traffic on mobile devices continues to be a significant concern. We examine a range of excessive energy consumption problems caused by background network traffic through a two-year user study, and also validate these findings through in-lab testing of the most recent versions of major mobile apps. We discover a new energy consumption problem where foreground network traffic persists after switching from the foreground to the background, leading to unnecessary energy and data drain. Furthermore, while we find some apps have taken steps to improve the energy impact of periodic background traffic, energy consumption differences of up to an order of magnitude exist between apps with near-identical functionality. Finally, by examining how apps are used in the wild, we find that some apps continue to generate unneeded traffic for days when the app is not being used, and in some cases this wasted traffic is responsible for a majority of the app's network energy overhead. We propose that these persistent, widespread and varied sources of excessive energy consumption in popular apps should be addressed through new app management tools that tailor network activity to user interaction patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIMC 2015 - Proceedings of the 2015 ACM Internet Measurement Conference
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781450338486
StatePublished - Oct 28 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventACM Internet Measurement Conference, IMC 2015 - Tokyo, Japan
Duration: Oct 28 2015Oct 30 2015

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Conference, IMC


OtherACM Internet Measurement Conference, IMC 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank our anonymous reviewers as well as Erich Nahum, our shepherd, for their valuable comments. This research was supported in part by NSF under CNS-1059372 and CNS-1345226, as well as by an NSERC Canada PGS D scholarship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 ACM.


  • 4G LTE
  • Cellular network performance
  • Mobile energy consumption
  • Smartphones


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