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Android Phones Collect 20 Times More Data Than iPhones: Study Reveals

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London, UK - July 19, 2018: The buttons of Whatsapp, Messenger, Telegram, Pinterest Twitter, Facetime and other chat apps on the screen of an iPhone.

Android phone users might be surprised by this report and its unclear how they would feel because a study found that Android phones collect user data 20 times that of similar iPhones.

According to the latest reports, published by Ars Technica and 9to5Mac, research conducted by a professor of computer science at Trinity University in Dublin, Ireland, shows that both iOS and Android phones are constantly collecting data and sending it back to Apple and Google, respectively. The information collection behaviour starts from inserting the SIM card into the smartphone, including the interaction of hardware and application programs.

It is reported that when the user is not logged in, opts out of data collection in the privacy settings, and the mobile phone is in an idle state, the data collection process may still run. Experts also found that iOS shares information about IMEI, hardware serial number, SIM serial number, phone number, device ID (including UDID and advertising ID), location, telemetry, cookies, local IP address, and nearby Wi-Fi Mac addresses.

However, Android sends similar data, adding the Wi-Fi MAC address of the device, but does not include the location information of the phone, the local IP address and the nearby Wi-Fi Mac address.

As for the test conditions, the test is performed after the phone is restored to the factory settings, the first time it is started, the SIM card is inserted or removed when the phone is idle, the settings are checked, the location is enabled or disabled, and the data collected for the first time when the user logs in to the AppStore.

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The study also mentioned that “currently, there are few options to prevent this data sharing”, that is, users must accept the collected data as long as they use their mobile phones.

In response to this result, Google responded that Leith’s method is flawed, and they believe that data collection is the core function of any connected device. The spokesperson questioned the validity of the experiment, pointing out that the experiment could not capture data such as UDP/QUIC traffic.

Google’s statement said, “We identified flaws in the researcher’s methodology for measuring data volume and disagree with the paper’s claims that an Android device shares 20 times more data than an iPhone. According to our research, these findings are off by an order of magnitude, and we shared our methodology concerns with the researcher before publication. This research largely outlines how smartphones work. 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.

The full study can be found here.