Toward Accurate Network Delay Measurement on Android Phones

Weichao Li, Daoyuan Wu, Kow Chuen Chang, Ricky K.P. Mok

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Measuring and understanding the performance of mobile networks is becoming very important for end users and operators. Despite the availability of many measurement apps, their measurement accuracy has not received sufficient scrutiny. In this paper, we appraise the accuracy of smartphone-based network performance measurement using the Android platform and the network round-trip time (RTT) as the metric. We show that two of the most popular measurement apps-Ookla Speedtest and MobiPerf-have their RTT measurements inflated. We build three test apps for three common measurement methods and evaluate them in a testbed. We overcome the main challenge of obtaining a complete trace of packets and their timestamps using multiple sniffers and frame-based synchronization. Our multi-layer analysis reveals that the delay inflation can be introduced both in the user space and kernel space. The long path of subfunction invocations accounts for the majority of the delay overhead in the Android runtime (both Dalvik VM and ART), and the sleeping functions in the drivers are the major source of the delay overhead between the kernel and physical layer. We propose and implement a native measurement app to mitigate the delay overhead in the Android runtime, and the resulted delay inflation in the user space can be kept under 1.5 ms for almost all cases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-732
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • accuracy
  • Android
  • mobile phone
  • Network measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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