Research shows Android handsets share 20 times more telemetry data than iPhones


Posts: 1,052   +15
Staff member
Bottom line: A recent analysis highlights the extent of the telemetry data collected by Google and Apple from phone users and paints an awful picture about Android data collection. However, both companies disagree with the findings, noting that they only reveal what's necessary to keep phones running smoothly.

By now, it's no secret that companies like Google and Apple collect telemetry information from mobile devices and software that you use. Still, there is a difference in terms of the amount and types of data collected. Even when you're not using your Android or iOS device, or just as soon as you've turned them on for the first time, there is some data that gets sent to Google and Apple's servers. Timestamps for inserting a SIM card into your phone or whenever you change a hardware setting or open an app are a couple of examples.

Research conducted by Douglas Leith from Trinity College in Ireland suggests Google collects more than twenty times more data from a typical Android handset than Apple does from an iPhone. That finding stays true even after a user has explicitly opted out of such telemetry collection. On average, both Android and iOS handsets share data with Google and Apple servers every 4.5 minutes, and there's little you can do as a user to prevent that from happening.

Researchers noted that devices on default privacy settings share information related to the IMEI, SIM serial number, phone number, hardware serial number, location, cookies, local IP address, nearby Wi-Fi MAC addresses, and advertising ID. When a user has not yet logged in, Android phones don't send location, IP address, and nearby Wi-Fi MAC addresses, while iPhones don't send their own Wi-Fi MAC address.

Factoring in the estimated 113 million iPhone users and 129 million Android users in the US and the volume and frequency of data collection on both platforms, Apple collects somewhere to the tune of 5.8 GB of data every 12 hours. In contrast, Google collects a whopping 1.3 TB in that same timeframe.

Leith believes the extent of the data collection concerning since it can be used to link your personal information to a particular device, which can then be used for targeted advertising or other purposes. The researcher sent his findings to both companies. Google offered some clarifications and expressed its intention to publish documentation on the telemetry data collection soon.

Image: TechCrunch

"This research outlines how smartphones workGoogle said. "Modern cars regularly send basic data about vehicle components, their safety status and service schedules to car manufacturers, and mobile phones work in very similar ways. This report details those communications, which help ensure that iOS or Android software is up to date, services are working as intended, and that the phone is secure and running efficiently."

Apple has a similar view on the findings and noted that the report gets many things wrong. For instance, the company says that personal data sent to Apple is protected, and the company doesn't collect data that can be associated with a person without their knowledge or consent.

Additionally, Google calls into question Leith's methods in determining the telemetry volume on Android and iOS. It claims the study didn't capture UDP/QUIC traffic, nor did it look at whether the data was compressed or not, which could skew the results. That said, Apple doesn't disclose non-app data collection, and Google has yet to detail the types of telemetry data it collects, so the jury's still out on the paper's findings.

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Posts: 5,714   +6,522
I appreciate APPLE for pissing off these app makers and fighting for my privacy.

If they don't like it - they can go kick rocks.


Posts: 445   +415
It is no secret that all our devices that connects to the net collects data of our usage patterns and more. I am also not surprised that Google collects more data than Apple as its one of their core business. Apple's walled garden is sometimes a blessing because they like to keep things to themselves, so less likely to sell data as freely as Google in my opinion. I may be wrong, but that's my impression currently. If the study is accurate, the actual data shared may double if you get an Android base phone that is not from Google. Samsung as an example will also be collecting data at the same time. So double whammy.

Hai Karate

Posts: 6   +14
Yeah, this research has already been pored over on Reddit. The research (that nobody took the time to read) actually says that Apple collects MORE TYPES OF DATA than Google does. Google sends MORE BYTES OF DATA. That doesn't get the ol' clicks in a headline, though.


Posts: 448   +586
Another, equally accurate, analysis of their findings is: Android users are 20 times more interesting than iPhone users.
Another, equally accurate, analysis of their findings is: Android users has 20 times bigger mojos than iPhone users.

Without disclosing an ounce of detail on why the data size is bigger, it's all nonsense.


Posts: 4,020   +2,039
Another fear mongering article about data collection!
Wake me when the contents can't be disputed.


Posts: 41   +43
Any simple VPN (no root required) that shows system apps can do the trick, apart from some 5-7 seconds upon reboot that it needs to set itself up.

Second - Settings, Accounts - Google/Gmail. Go through every single setting in there designed and left by default to hog your data and violate your privacy.

Deactivate "Find My Phone" (able to turn on location and send WiFi info even when Global Location if off). Deactivate YouTube keeping you logged in, saving browsing history and personalising your experience. Uninstall/Deactivate Chrome, use Opera or Firefox instead. Uninstall/deactivate Google Music, Movies and all other useless system crap your phone comes with. Uninstall/deactivate Google Drive and turn Contacts and Messages sync Off (you can easily do backups on local storage and SD card if you wish so and it takes almost no space).

Use a VPN (Netguard, NoRoot Firewall etc.) to block each and every (system) app from accessing Internet. Very few do really need it to function and Contacts, Messages, Camera and Microphone (apps) DO NOT need it, however are left On by default.

Do not leave apps like Shazam or Soundhound accessing the Internet as they run in the background and record you and your environment 24/7. Have them blocked in the VPN and when you need a song name, let them have it for you, then block again. The rest is common sense.

No one is to be blamed (especially no-border corporations) for privacy violations if you yourself behave like a *****. They are here for your data, learn how to keep it safe!


Posts: 54   +45
What matters isnt the data size (it can drastically change with different compression for example) but what kind of data they gather.
And right now, the paper says that apple takes more different stuff than android but we don't know what excatly they both take.

So the title is a bit misleading, it's not "Android handsets share 20 times more telemetry data than iPhones" but "Android handsets telemetry data are 20x the size of iPhones one". It's not the same


Posts: 1,173   +214
Not even remotely surprised by this. but what other choice of mobile OS do we have today?

last year I was considering getting a 4G KaiOS phone (Nokia 8110 4G and 2720 4G) until I learned that you can't even do basic things like make a voice call through whatsapp (except in Pakistan). it's not like the hardware is limited because Google Duos video call is supported on those devices. mind you those phone each costs north of $100 so I'd expect a little bit more functionality than $20 phone you found at gas station.

I guess soon KaiOS will see Symbian, Blackberry, Windows phone, Tizen, and Bada in grave.


Posts: 3,517   +3,682
If one party collects less data than the other, they still collect your data, they are not "fighting for your privacy".
And also, nobody guarantees you that if you turn tracking features "off" it actually does anything. Knowing these companies I wouldn't be surpised if those settings are there just for show.


Posts: 748   +544
What cracks me up -is if the product is free your the product blah blah blah - that's why I use Apple.

Are these people for real - At least with say Google we get an illusion of freedom - we can use any media consumption app, we can side load , we can attach SD cards to android phones , we can use any payment method. If you believe that Apple doesn't want a share of all your spending , your car time, your home time, your health time etc etc etc . Some Apple users won't admit they are in an abusive relationship - you follow their strict controlling rules and they will lavish you with false love and security - try to speak out and you will be rebuked - your other choices will be ridiculed and impaired by your Jealous God/Lover- You don't want to be using Apple or holding or loving Apple the wrong way- remember to chant the mantra this phone is the perfect size , this keyboard is the perfect keyboard - their are no inconsistencies just like their are none in the religious books
Don't kid yourself! Apple has never been truly transparent (just Like Biden) and the fact that the technology originates in China makes it easy to spoof innocence for marketing purposes. Apple is nowhere near the market penetration this article claims. They want to keep their flock "ignorant." In Fact: They bank on it.

Of course BOTH will deny the findings. These devices will NEVER be totally secure as long as the Department of Homeland Security has anything to say about it.