Last June, without any announcement, Instagram launched a lite version of its application on the stores : Instagram Lite. A lighter version that fits in the logic initiated by its parent company Facebook with its Facebook Lite app (that we had evaluated at the time) and Messenger Lite app.
Taking photos and posting them on your Instagram feed or within your stories can be very impactful for your battery life. If you are on vacation, lost in the depths of a country where connectivity is a real issue but you still want to share pics of this moment without losing your way back because of a lack of battery, the solution seems natural: adopt the new Instagram Lite application.
In this Lite version, Instagram’s main features are at the rendezvous (take photos, publish, stories, search function explorer…), but forget other more advanced features like messaging and sharing and automatic playback of videos. Only the essential remains. This Lite version was designed so that users in developing countries, where connectivity isn’t optimal, can still take advantage of the platform. The weight of the Lite version (5.15 MB) is 20 times lower than the traditional application (113 MB). The promise of a lower weight is respected, but what about the volume of data exchanged? And especially is the battery consumption of the lite application lower than the main application?
Instagram is a social network launched in 2010, which counted in 2017 more than 500 million daily users in the world.
This is a platform for sharing photos and videos across a network, but also a messaging service and more recently an Instagram TV video application that allows you to upload videos of over an hour in a “vertical” format suitable for smartphones screens.
In order to verify the promises of this Lite version, we have launched several battery consumption and data consumption metrics for both the Instagram and Instagram Lite applications. To make these measurements, we used the Greenspector tool on a Nexus 6 running Android 6.
For Instagram it was version 126.96.36.199.83 of the official application. As for the Lite application, it’s not yet available in France at the time of writing, but it has been deployed in Mexico and will soon be in other countries. So from an APK downloaded on the APKPure website, we were able to test version 1.0.0 of Instagram Lite.
The tests were done on two types of Instagram accounts: an active account with many subscriptions (and therefore an updated feed at each launch) and a brand new account created for our tests, with a single subscription.
Data consumption comparison
Instagram versus Lite comparison with active account
For the “active” account, the data exchanged on the network by the Instagram application ranges from 1.4 MB to 6.7 MB for the first launch of the application on a smartphone (average 3.20 MB). The next app openings consume between 0 and 680 KB (average: 42 KB) in the majority of cases. We notice that the first launches do consume a lot of data. However, subsequent launches consume very little or no data on the network. So there is good cache management for the official version of the Instagram application.
On the Lite app however, the behavior is different. Indeed, the amount of data exchanged on the network is less important on all launches (maximum 1.60 MB and average 480 KB) but doesn’t decrease after the first launch. It seems that cache management isn’t optimal in the Lite version of the application.
Instagram versus Lite comparison with the new account
With a recent account, the data exchanged over the network by the Instagram application are around 2.6 MB for the first launch and 0 MB for subsequent launches.
For the Lite version, all launches cause an average consumption of 170 KB data. The amount of data exchanged on the network is therefore less important.
The promise of a lower volume of data is held on Instagram Lite. But what about the energy consumed by the application?
Energy consumption comparison
Instagram versus Lite comparison with active user account
With the active user account, the energy consumption at the first launch of the Instagram application is 3.15 mAh; subsequent launches consume 2.84 mAh on average.
The Lite version has an average power consumption at launch of 5.13 mAh. It consumes almost twice more battery than the traditional version!
Instagram versus Lite comparison with the new user account
Same findings with a new user account, the traditional application consumes at the first launch 3.70 mAh and 3.0 mAh for the following; whilst the Lite application shows an average of 5.24 mAh at each launch: a higher energy consumption than the official version.
The Lite app exchanges less data on the network than the traditional Instagram app, so it lives up to its initial promise in terms of application size and data volumes. But contrary to user expectations, it consumes more battery. Instagram puts us in front of a tough choice: do you prefer to consume less data, or less battery?
With the Lite version, you will consume less storage space on your smartphone and less data. It will be interesting when you have a bad network connection, or if your data plan is expensive. But if your priority is to save your battery, then you’d better stay with the traditional application – but be careful: with its more advanced features, it may encourage you to increase your use and therefore to consume more …
Kimberley DERUDDER has been marketing and communication officer at GREENSPECTOR for more than 3 years. Kimberley graduated with a master’s degree in Marketing – Communication and specialized in Inbound Marketing after her first two years at GREENSPECTOR. Today in charge of the animation of the marketing, social media and lead generation strategy, she also takes care of app comparisons and battles.