Free apps are great, right? They save you money on apps you would otherwise pay for, but according to a new study conducted by Abhinav Pathak and his team at Purdue (via New Scientist, CultofMac), free ad-supported apps may actually cost you more in the long run.
According to the study, between 65% and 75% percent of the energy used by free apps goes directly to the in-app ads, which could affect the long-term health of your device’s battery and cost you more in energy to keep your device charged in the long run.
The Purdue study focused specifically on the Android and Windows Mobile platforms, but the findings should be true of iOS apps as well. The main concern is that the apps and their adds tend to target power-sucking features of your phone like the GPS and camera app to fuel their location data, meaning the app itself is only using a fraction of the total battery power depleted by the experience of actually using the app.
Even though the iPhone gets pretty great battery life, the long-term affects of using ad-supported apps could affect the life of your battery, forcing you to replace your device (or pay to have the battery replaced) sooner than you otherwise would have needed to.
In short, paying the extra buck or to to buy paid versions of apps actually ends up costing you less in the long run than using free ad-supported versions. It’s an interesting finding, to be sure! For more information, you can download the entire study on PDF here.