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How Good Is Chrome’s Bandwidth Saving Feature on Android and iOS? Help Us Find Out

Chrome Bandwidth FeatureThe latest stable release of Google Chrome on Android and iOS features a new feature to ‘reduce data usage’ – but how good can it really be?

Google claim that, when enabled, the ‘data compression and bandwidth management’ feature can result in data savings of as much as 50% on normal use.

Having had the feature enabled on my Android smartphone for a month or so this seems to hold up. Chrome tells me it’s made data savings of 40% – which is fantastic news as I browse in perpetual fear of my going over my paltry 250MB data cap!

But Google’s word and my experiences only tell part of the story. To help determine just how good Chrome’s bandwidth compression feature is I’m presenting a challenge – one that you can help with.

OMG! Chrome! Bandwidth Challenge

For the next week I want as many of you as possible to switch to Chrome on Android or iOS, enable the data saving feature, and continue to use the web as you normally would.

After 7 days have passed take a screenshot of your results (visible in Settings > Bandwidth Management) and share them with us here in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or through our contact form.

We’ll collate all your results and present our findings, including the best, worst and overall average scores, in early February.

If you already have the feature enabled and want to take part you’ll need to reset your usage stats as we’ll only be including data that starts tracking after the date at the top of this article.

The challenge isn’t limited to mobiles either. Chrome’s new data usage feature works on WiFi-only devices like tablets – so you’ve no excuse not to take part!

How to Enable Data Usage Savings in Chrome

Google don’t enable their data compression technology by default, so you’ll need to turn it on manually.

To do this, assuming you already have Chrome installed, launch it from your app tray or dock then:

  • Tap on the three vertically stacked dots to open the main Chrome menu
  • Select ‘Settings’ followed by ‘Bandwidth management’
  • Pull the slider next to ‘Reduce Data Usage’ to “On”

That’s it – you’re all set.

How Does It Work?

How can Google reduce the amount of data you use?

When the feature is enabled Chrome creates a connection between your mobile and one of their secure optimisation servers.

“The proxy…performs intelligent compression and magnification of HTML, JavaScript and CSS resources, which removes unnecessary whitespace, comments, and other metadata which are not essential to render the page. These optimisations, combined with mandatory gzip compression for all resources, can result in substantial bandwidth savings,” explains Google.

Images are converted to the nimble WebP format to make them up to 80% smaller.

How to Take a Screenshot in Android and iOS

To take a screenshot:

  • Android: Power + Volume Down
  • iOS: Power + Home button

Are you in? Help us get a more accurate result by sharing this post on your favourite social networks. 

  • Mine is not as good…

    When I opted in, my data saving was 35% (max 40%). As soon as I started browsing, this reduced first to 30%, then to 25%.
    I noticed that many websites have mobile version and I think Google just can’t reduce the size if it is reduced already. I think the 40% that Google shows us in promotions is the theoretical maximum.

    But who cares? In my case Chrome downloaded 1.66GB instead of 2.23GB! That’s impressive!

    • kristo

      I’v been using it on beta since it was implemented and have now 47% saved on my Nexus 7 and 42% on my Nexus 5.

  • kristo

    “If you already have the feature enabled and want to take part you’ll need to reset your usage stats”, yes, but how?

  • SweetBearCub

    I have been using this feature since it was available in Chrome Beta for Android. On my GS3, it currently stands at 37%.

  • Nighthawk700

    Okay, I turned mine on. Can you send out a reminder post to check this in a week? I’m sure I’ll forget.

  • Brandon Watkins

    Mine wasn’t that good. From December 22 to today it has saved 27%.

  • W.G.

    I wish they would add this feature to desktop Chrome, it would be great for tethering, data caps, etc.

    • Juan Carlos Cornejo

      I was thinking the same thing. Definitely useful for those of us on mobile modems.

      • alaskanjackal

        Go to the Google App Store and search for Data Compression Proxy. It adds the feature to Chrome Desktop (yes, routing through Google’s servers, so your data is secure). It’s a bit buggy and doesn’t always work (and sometimes randomly flips itself off), but it’s better than nothing when on a limited-bandwidth connection.

  • indolering

    “Google don’t enable their” -> “Google doesn’t enable their”

    • infarvo

      I do believe this may be a British/American langauge thing: When writing your company profile it’s correct to say “Who is Google?” in US English, but the British would write “Who are Google?”

      • alaskanjackal

        British treat collective nouns as grammatical plurals, while Americans treat them as singular. In other words, in the UK, a noun representing multiple people or objects (family, team, company, legislature, etc.) takes the third-person plural conjugation (the family travel, the team play, the company are, the legislature vote), while in America, it takes the third-person singular (the family travels, the team plays, the company is, the legislature votes).

        The British way may make more sense if you think about the subject (if a noun is representing a group, shouldn’t it be plural?) but, IMHO, the American way makes more grammatical sense (the word itself is singular, so the verb should also be singular).

        But like the Oxford comma, it’s all rather arbitrary and really comes down to what someone in authority has decided is correct.

        • onijitsu

          Third-person conjugal visits (conjug-a-trois?) must be messy affairs… ;-)

        • Jeremy Perrott

          Not true. We use both, as should US English speakers. It depends on the sense of the word in the sentence. It’s not a hard and fast rule, as you suggest.

  • Fernando Fernandez

    Well, it saved me 12%, I think

  • Simon Buckley

    Between December 28th and January 26th, Chrome on my Galaxy S4 has saved 39% of data. Pretty impressed.

  • Pierre Gardin

    It would be interesting to know the side effects in terms of page loading time and CPU usage/battery life.

    • alaskanjackal

      Doubt the extra processor load, especially on a modern, high-powered device, is much. Whatever minimal extra processor load there is is vastly more offset by the shorter time the cellular radio is active.

  • mekmar

    34 %

  • Abin Joseph

    Only 29%

  • Mark Faine

    But what about security?