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How to monitor resource usage on your Android smartphone

Worried about apps utilising too much battery or eating up all your data? We’ve got you covered.

As an Android power-user, you might be utilising a long list of apps on a daily basis. It could be apps for productivity, fitness or even games. Using a lot of applications might lead to a sense of insecurity on the kind of resources they could be eating up. Eventually, when there are multiple apps running in the background, you could face annoying lags and stuttering. Monitoring memory usage will give you a better idea on the apps that are taking up more RAM. Most of the apps you use probably require an Internet connection, but how would you know if there are certain ones that are sneakily trying to establish a connection? If you think it’s time to take matters into your own hands and actually monitor everything going on in your smartphone, here are a few apps to let you track all the usage and activity.

CPU usage

The first parameter you’d want to monitor would be your CPU usage. Starting with Android Oreo, third-party applications won’t get access to CPU utilisation numbers of different applications due to security reasons. This means the only data that you can now view are the clock frequencies of all the cores. Although this is a bummer, we’d prefer better security. Hence, all you can monitor is the rise and fall of CPU frequencies but you won’t be able to determine which apps are doing it. You’ll also get an idea on how much time the CPU has spent at certain frequencies. You can try out an app called Simple System Monitor to view your CPU frequencies and even other usage parameters such as GPU, RAM, Disk Activity, etc. One interesting feature is that the usage graph of certain parameters can be viewed in a floating window.

simple system monitor

RAM monitoring

RAM or memory usage monitoring is something Android offers by default. And now, there’s much more granular data being provided. In order to check which apps are taking up your memory, head over to Developer Options and look for Running Services. Here you will find all the applications loaded onto your RAM along with the amount of memory they are occupying. If you come across some application that you don’t want to run in the background, you can simply force stop it. Do note, certain system services do need to be running in the background when your phone is switched on. However, you should be fine with killing off third-party applications. This section gives you a visualisation of the amount of memory occupied by the system and third-party apps.

android ram usage

Network activity

As stated earlier, you can’t be sure which apps are trying to connect to the internet even though they don’t really need a connection. GlassWire Data Usage Monitor keeps a track of all the applications that try to establish an internet connection through cellular or Wi-Fi. It conveniently sends you an alert whenever an app connects to the internet for the first time. Not just connections, you can also track the amount of data uploaded and downloaded by every app. It serves as a great tool to keep in check which apps are using a lot of data. You will be able to view the amount of data being downloaded or uploaded by every app and accordingly change your preferences. If you’ve wondered where your monthly cellular data vanishes, this is a great app to help you save the unnecessary usage of your valuable data.

glasswire data usage monitor

Battery levels

Some applications running in the background take too much battery. You can easily determine the same if the app is also taking up too much RAM. For a better visualisation of which apps are responsible for your phone running out of battery, you can take advantage of the built-in system battery application. Under Settings, you can find the app that gives you all sorts of data such as your battery level, time since the last full charge and screen usage since the same full charge. Apart from that, it will also list down the applications or services that used up the battery since a full charge and tell you how much of the battery they utilised. If you find a certain application using too much battery, you could replace or stop using it completely. If you wish to see a detailed breakdown of your battery stats such as discharging speed (down to individual apps), battery health, etc., then you should definitely check out AccuBattery. It also gives you data on the charging speed and average battery usage over a few days.


Sensor data

Your smartphone comes loaded with sensors to record different kinds of data that is ultimately used by different applications. System information apps will only confirm which sensors are present inside. However, there are a few apps that will visualise all the data being recorded by the sensors. There are two apps we came across for both beginner and advanced users. Android Sensors (formerly called SensorLab) displays all the sensory data using graphs and charts on one single screen. You can individually expand the graphs to fullscreen and even record the sensory activity from the app. However, it doesn’t visualise data from all the sensors. A more advanced form of tracking and recording data from your sensors would be by Physics Toolbox Suite. This app is a gold mine if you’re a physics nerd because it generates so much data from your sensors. Some of the interesting ones are Colour Detector that can give you the colour of a subject in hex code. You can also emulate a Spectrogram for audio and even generate tones at different frequencies. The best part about this app is you can record and save the data and then export the values in a .csv format. This app could be overwhelming for beginners but it’s an interesting way to learn about the kind of data a phone’s sensors can generate.


System information

If you’ve always wanted to read a detailed description of all the features present on your phone, we would recommend Device Info: Hardware and Software. To refer to the specifications of your phone, you would be dependent on the product page or websites which list them down. If you fall among the sceptical ones, a more trustworthy approach would be using system info apps. There are many out there but the free ones usually have a clunky user-interface overwhelmed with ads. This one lists down details of different components like Processor, Network, Camera, Display, Storage, etc. The app is simple to use with a colourful user-interface.

device info
Abhijit Dey

Abhijit Dey

While indulging deep into conspiracy theories surrounding comic book movie plots, he can be found rewatching them looking for easter eggs. Otherwise, his weekends are spent on gaming and browsing memes.