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Can you increase your data speeds just by downloading an app? There are many apps in the Play Store that claim they can do this, and they’ve gotten pretty good reviews. They just seem too good to be true.
Do they legitimately increase data speeds? I put them to the test.
Before we get started testing apps, we’ll need a control round. I ran 6 instances of the Speedtest app on my AT&T 4G LTE connection in Los Angeles, and averageg the results to gauge how quick my data is before installing any “Internet booster” apps. Then, one by one, I downloaded the apps and ran them, being sure to remove them completely before moving on to the next app.
The averages of the above results come out as follows:
Download: 2.07 Mbps
Upload: 2.33 Mbps
So, can any of these apps really improve on these speeds? I tested each one three times and averaged the results to find out.
Download: 1.79 Mbps
Upload: 2.54 Mbps
While the download speed went down, the upload speed and ping actually increased by a bit. However, that’s easily within the margin of error for data speeds, and these results are negligible. My data speeds were unchanged after running Faster Internet 2X.
At only 986kB, this app is a placebo. It doesn’t do anything.
Actually, at the very bottom of the app description for this app, it says “Note – this is a placebo app.” That certainly makes them more honest than many of the developers on this list, but it’s still a tad deceitful. Who reads the entire description before downloading? That’s like reading the ToS before installing something on Windows.
Some scams are outright malicious, like phishing scams that try to steal your login info, but this is a lower level of maliciousness. You aren’t outright harmed — your data isn’t stolen, your money isn’t stolen — but the developers intentionally advertised an app that purported to do something they know it doesn’t, and they make money off the ads. Not cool.
Download: 0.85 Mbps
Upload: 4.74 Mbps
By some strange coincidence, my upload speeds managed to double while my download speeds were cut in half. Ping stayed about the same, but the other whackiness can simply be attributed to the general inconsistency of data speeds.
Besides, would you really download an app that doubles your upload speed and cuts your download speed in half?
This app also details in the description that it is a placebo, meant only for pranking friends.
Download: 1.60 Mbps
Upload: 1.89 Mbps
This app, from the design to the description, seems like a carbon copy of the last Internet Booster, with nothing really added to make it “Advanced.”
Still a placebo.
Download: 0.75 Mbps
Upload: 2.47 Mbps
If anything, my data became slower with this app, but again, that’s most likely caused by regular fluctuations in data performance.
This app says nothing about being a placebo in its description, and it uses the permission to draw over other apps to display ads to you even when you’re not in the app. That’s just scummy.
Download: (A) 0.44 Mbps (B) 1.49 Mbps
Upload: (A) 1.54 Mbps (B) 3.40 Mbps
Ping: (A) 91ms (B) 84ms
This app definitely tries to be more legit than the others, requesting root permission which at least makes it possible that it could be doing something under the hood. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The good news is that there are no ads.
All of the results fall within a regular margin of error here, maybe even slowing down a bit. This app has Booster A and Booster B settings, which are supposed to be different. Not sure if this was coincidence or not, but A was much slower for me than B. This app seems to be the closest one to not being a placebo so far.
Download: 1.35 Mbps
Upload: 0.80 Mbps
Tired of apps called Internet Booster yet? This one is yet another placebo. Not only does it not warn you that it’s a placebo, but it asks you to use the app every several days. Moving on.
Download: 1.4 Mbps
Upload: 1.61 Mbps
Surprise, surprise. Another placebo.
Download: 2.16 Mbps
Upload: 2.59 Mbps
The developer claims this is a “known Linux tweak” and references this XDA forum thread. They also warn users that because it requires root permissions and messes with system files, it’s recommended to make a backup before using it.
My results with it, while slightly improved, don’t give me any cause to believe this will significantly improve my data speeds in the long run. They fall within a normal range.
Is There A Legitimate Way To Increase Data Speeds?
Yes, but not with these apps. There are ways for certain custom kernels to tweak the TCP congestion-avoidance algorithm to possibly give you faster data speeds. This process is fairly technical and requires users to root their devices and install a custom kernel — you won’t get it simply from downloading an app, and there’s always the possibility that it wrecks your data speeds entirely.
Also, you may have heard of Download Booster, one of the Galaxy S5’s great new features. This feature takes advantage of 4G LTE and Wi-Fi at the same time to increase the speed at which something can download, but it can’t increase the speed of either your 4G LTE or Wi-Fi separately.
These apps don’t work. They’re free placebos, which aren’t really that harmful, but they don’t deliver on what they promise: increasing data speeds.
Don’t fall for these. If an app sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be sure to read the fine print in all the app descriptions before downloading, and check the permissions that an app needs. If the permissions are too invasive, it could be harmful (does it really need to be able to send text messages?) and with no permissions it’s not likely to do anything at all. Apps that require root can be especially malicious too, since you don’t know what they’re doing with that root permission.
And if you ever pay for one of these scams — like this $4 malware protection placebo that earned $40,000 — learn how to get a refund from the Google Play Store. Otherwise, you’re best off just avoiding these and uninstalling any that might already be on your device.