Google Collects 20 Times More Data on Android Than Apple Does on iPhone: Study

A new research report states that Google collects more data from Android users than Apple does from iOS users. Researchers from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, compared the data that a Pixel phone shared with Google with what iPhones share with Apple and found that Google collects 20 times more handset data than Apple. The research also found that even when “minimally configured,” the Pixel and iPhone models shared data quite frequently, on average. According to a report, Google disagrees with the methodology behind the research.

The research conducted by Douglas J. Leith and his team from Trinity College Dublin on mobile handset privacy pit a Pixel phone made by Google against an iPhone by Apple against each other to see which manufacturer collects more user data. The data collected includes IMEI, hardware serial number, SIM serial number and IMSI, handset phone number, and telemetry. It found that Pixel and iPhone models shared data with their respective manufacturers every 4.5 mins on average.


When a user inserts a SIM in either of these smartphones, both Google and Apple are sent details. It was found that iOS sends the MAC addresses of nearby devices to Apple and their GPS location. iOS users cannot opt out of this, and there seem to be no realistic options for preventing this. When not logged in, while both phones send IMEI, hardware serial number, SIM serial number, and phone number to the manufacturers, Google collects Android ID, Resettable Device Identifier, or Ad ID that is used for measurement and ads (RDID/Ad-ID), and DroidGuard key that is used to devise attestation. In comparison, Apple only collects UDID and Ad ID.

A report by Arstechnica, which first spotted the research, cites a Google spokesperson who states that Google disagrees with the methodology of this research. Apple was found to collect users’ location even when not logged in and the local IP address, whereas Google did not. Google also collected Wi-Fi MAC addresses, while Apple did not. Both operating systems send telemetry data even when the user opts out. Within 10 minutes of startup, Google collects about 1MB of data, while Apple collects about 42KB. Google collects about 1MB of data every 12 hours when left idle, while Apple contains about 52KB.

“We identified flaws in the researcher’s methodology for measuring data volume and disagreed 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 order of magnitude, and we shared our methodology concerns with the researcher before publication.” It says, “This research largely outlines how smartphones work. Modern cars regularly send basic data about vehicle components, safety status, and service schedules to car manufacturers, and mobile

phones work similarly. 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 report adds that, as per the representative, saying that an Android user can opt-out of sharing telemetry data is “inaccurate”. Google considers this data crucial for the Android device to operate normally and that telemetry data is not covered under Android Usage and Diagnostics.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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