Last update: May 2021

5 mins to read - 2020/10/19

Study Shows OpenBack Library Reduces Device Battery Drain

Getting the most battery life out of your device is a recurring problem for mobile phone users. It seems the more advanced our devices get, the quicker they drain the battery. This is especially a problem with iPhones, and many users are frustrated at how the new iOS 14 update has turbocharged battery drain. There are many tips and tricks device users share to help each other maximize battery life. Some OS developers have even suggested turning off push notifications. However, a recent study by Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation Programme has ascertained that mobile devices that run apps integrated with the OpenBack library for push notifications suffer from less battery drain than devices integrated with other notification platforms.

The test was performed by the Telecommunications and Software Systems Group (TSSG), a research group associated with the Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland.

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openback battery drain

What Was the Study Setup?

The study is based on 4 devices:

  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
  • Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini
  • iPhone 4
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace Mini

These were used rather than new devices, in the interest of taking a ‘real-world’ approach to the results. These 4 devices were then subjected to a series of tests, each done in a uniform environment. Each device would run for 48 hours, connected to Wi-Fi but not to a cellular service. The device would be running minimal OS applications, with no interaction from users to cause unpredictable results. Each device started the test at 100% battery life, or as close as possible. And the testers recorded results for each of the devices at various intervals over all of the tests.

How Did the Study Test OpenBack for Device Battery Drain?

These 4 devices were then subjected to 3 tests. Test 1 was the control test, in which the devices were running with only the operating systems active.

Test 2 was the OpenBack test, where devices were running an application using the OpenBack notification library, and battery drain was quantified.

And Test 3 was the same as Test 2, but the device had an application running that used Airship as its notification provider.

The standard 48-hour test was then repeated 6 times for each of these 3 subgroups.

What Were the Results of the Tests?

Results noted that, of the 4 devices, the Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 Mini had the weakest battery, which didn’t even survive the 48 hours of the control test. Otherwise, results were varied based on the different devices, and the study noted that past habitual charging of the devices may have affected their current battery life.

However, across the board the study observed that, while OpenBack did cause a small amount of extra battery drain, it was not much compared to the control test. And it was notably less drain than that caused by the third-party SDK Airship.

openback battery drain test
Image Source: Waterford Institute of Technology, Data Mining and Social Computing Research Unit –


The researchers concluded:

“Reviewing the average of the two sets of each test result on a per device basis shows that OpenBack performs marginally better than the 3rd party push provider for all devices tested. The percentage of battery use attributed to the application (shown in parentheses) as reported by the Android operating system would appear to make sense and when you consider that this is a device that is doing nothing else except staying alive, 2-3% of this power consumption is miniscule.”

Why Does OpenBack Have Such a Light Effect on Device Battery Drain?

It all goes back to the architecture of the push notification SDK. In traditional SDKs, the device network radio has to wake up from standby every time there is a notification request. This includes with the SDK for Airship, as we saw for Test 3. This is extremely draining on the device battery. One option to fix this issue has been to wake up the radio in batches, rather than each individual time there’s a request. However, this can then affect notification reliability, and is not suitable for notifications that need to deliver immediately.

OpenBack takes an approach that’s friendly to bother device battery life as well as notification reliability. Our hybrid, device-side software that utilizes edge computing to leverage data on the device, rather than transferring it to a third-party cloud server. This means OpenBack notifications are fully compliant with data privacy regulations – such as GDPR, COPPA, and HIPAA – as well as being highly reliable.

It also is beneficial to device battery life. This is because there’s no need to continually wake up the radio network for each individual notification. Rather than storing the push token in the cloud, OpenBack returns it to the device from the app’s backend. This means it’s the app itself that chooses when to send the push notification. This is without having to wake the radio to receive data from the backend server.

Devices are becoming more complex, and user preferences more imperative. This means that every small advantage becomes a much-needed edge for mobile apps.

To learn more about the benefits of using OpenBack’s premium mobile engagement platform, get in touch with one of our experts.

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