Just because you’ve got your phone on standby doesn’t mean it’s not doing anything. And in China, where high data rates are currently a major issue, how much data bandwidth a phone passively “steals” could be a big deal. The latest company to get wrapped up in China bandwidth complaints is Apple, as state television network CCTV recently aired a report that accuses the iPhone of passively “stealing” as much as US$10 of bandwidth every month.
CCTV reports that it put ten phones to the test by putting them on standby for 120 hours while tracking their data usage via China Mobile’s official site. Ten phones were tested and virtually all of them wasted some data – Sony and Nokia phones burned through about 4 MB each during that time, for example. But Apple’s iPhone was apparently the worst, passively eating up 80 MB of data over 120 hours on standby. China Mobile charges RMB 15 for 110 MB of bandwidth, so over the course a month that means that iPhones could be costing their users as much as RMB 60 (about US$10) in bandwidth fees.
The report also criticized Apple (among other handset makers) for including pre-installed software that cannot be removed.
Of course, it doesn’t seem that CCTV’s test was particularly scientific, and results might vary quite a bit depending on your mobile carrier, your model of iPhone, the apps installed, and your selected options – it is possible to completely turn off mobile data, after all. In fact, on tech sites like Sina Tech some commenters have already implicitly accused CCTV of organizing a smear campaign, joking that Apple must not have bought enough ads on the network this year. Others have pointed out that those who can afford Apple products probably aren’t that worried about spending a few extra dollars a month on bandwidth anyway.
This is not the first time that China’s state media has taken aim at Apple. There was a fairlysustained campaign against the American tech company in 2013, and it got slammed again by CCTV in 2014 for allegedy being a security threat (Apple denied this). The bad press certainly hasn’t done much to harm Apple’s business in China in the past, and it’s likely that the company will skate through this latest incident unscathed.