PIA consumes more battery than any other app on Pixel/Oreo

My wife's Google Pixel running Android Oreo has been getting terrible battery life for the last month, and we're fairly certain PIA is to blame.  Each time we check her battery stats, we see something like this:

 

My own Nexus 6P does not demonstrate this behavior, even after the recent update to Oreo.  And my wife's phone wasn't having this problem when we first signed up for PIA, it's a new issue.  We're both up-to-date, using version 1.3.3.1.

I already contacted support about this, and their response was pretty terrible:

Me, 2017-10-17:
My wife's phone drained almost entirely while inactive overnight, so this morning she asked me to investigate. Android's Battery Usage stats report PIA was primarily responsible for the rapid battery drain. It reports "102% of total app usage (4350mAh)" which sounds absurd - I have a screenshot; the breakdown of multiple apps reports it causing 70% of total battery discharge since the last full charge (maybe 36 hours ago) and "Android System" responsible for another 25%, bluetooth for most of the remaining 5%.
Why would the PIA app cause such significant battery drain and is there anything we can do about it?
We've had this app on her phone for months but haven't seen it get this bad before. She's using a Google Pixel (1st generation) and was recently upgraded to Oreo. I also have the PIA app on my phone and have not had problems with it - I'm using a Nexus 6P and am still on Nougat. Please let me know if there are any other diagnostics we can pull for you.
PIA Support, 2017-10-27:
I apologize that you have experienced such a battery drain. Unfortunately the app does use a lot of battery because it needs to maintain a constant connection to keep you encrypted tunnel secure. In order to do this the app needs to ping our server every 8 to 10 seconds. you may be able to supplement this by turning on the batter saver function on your phone. The best option is to turn the VPN off when you are not using the phone.
Me, 2017-10-27:
...Your recommendation is to turn the VPN off when I'm not using the phone? It's a smartphone. If the phone is powered, it's sending and receiving data that should go through the VPN.
Anyway, I'm trying to say that this behavior isn't just normal battery drain. Again, my wife and I have both been using PIA on our phones for months and haven't seen anything like this before. If there's no known battery consumption issue with a particular version of the the app, on Pixel phones, or on Android Oreo, we can resolve this ticket because there's probably nothing you can do for us. But at least throw this report over the wall to your engineering team so they can add it to the pile :)
PIA Support, 2017-10-28:
I appreciate your understanding. I will make sure that our team is aware of your ticket.

All that to say, they're either in denial or have just decided this problem isn't worth their time right now.  To anyone at PIA reading this: Please take this issue seriously!  It's not worth sticking with your service if it has such an adverse effect on our phones.  To everyone else: Please speak up if you're having a similar issue!  PIA probably doesn't have a sense of how many people are running into this.

Thanks!

Brad

Tagged:

Comments

  • I have the same complaint. But not about PIA, it is about WAZE. That app kills my battery in 30 minutes if not plugged in. I have an LG G3 running MM. Same with MAPS.ME when I am running the traffic monitor. I guess what I am saying it that anything that is in a constant state of activity will drain the battery. These batteries are not the best technology available and really are probably the cheapest battery the OEM can get. Not saying you have to live with it, but I do what they said. I turn off my phone or my data when I have no need for it.

    However, I hope that one of the Support guys can bring this up to a developer on increasing the keep alive time interval so the phones can keep the battery up a little longer.
  • I got the same problem. PIA = Pain In the A$$
  • edited November 2017 Posts: 0
    @islemaster @p0136204

    We're looking into it, but many of our own personal devices do not behave this way ((mine included) so narrowing down the specific issue without a debuglog or physically having access to your device will take time to get to the bottom of.

    In my experiences developing and using custom ROMs for Android, not every phone is created equal. You can buy the exact same phone two times and get different results sometimes. This has not been ruled out as a possibility but know we're looking into some potential causes.
    Post edited by [Deleted User] on
  • edited November 2017 Posts: 631
    It would appear that there are issues with Oreo on Pixel phones. Not saying that the issue is Oreo, Pixel, or PIA's fault. Just saying that there are issues. Haven't seen any press about Oreo being an issue with other devices, but that does not mean there aren't any.

    https://9to5google.com/2017/09/21/google-pixel-android-oreo-random-reboot/

    Post edited by Omnibus_IV on
  • edited November 2017 Posts: 1
    I'm also getting major battery drain on a stock s7 edge running Android 7.0. It's gotten so bad that I've had to turn it off when I'm not charging my phone. I really hope something can be done about this.
    Post edited by Chl649837 on
  • @sn0wmonster  Thanks for your patient response, and sorry for the delay in mine - I didn't realize my notifications weren't set up properly.

    Is there anything I can do to help with the pain of debugging from a distance?  I'm a developer and am happy to sideload builds, track down debug logs, whatever will help.  If your team can point me in the right direction, I'm happy to share any diagnostics we can find.

  • Considering being a new user. Any feedback on this in regards Galaxy S8? 
  • @zigzag03, I run PIA on my S8 with minimal impact on battery life. 


  • Posts: 1
    Same problem since November.
    Pixel 1 with Oreo.

    It annoys me so much because I payed for a year after a great first month. Then this started happening.


  • edited December 2017 Posts: 17
    I'm also getting insane battery drain on my Nexus 6P on Oreo 8.1 so it's not just Pixel phones. There seems to be a problem with VPNs and 8.1 at the moment but am unsure if this is what is causing battery drain: https://www.neowin.net/news/google-addresses-android-81-oreo-vpn-issues-fix-to-be-released

    Link to my other post on battery drain: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/forum/discussion/28912/pia-app-glitches-android-8-1-and-battery-life#latest
    Post edited by nedder on
  • Posts: 1
    Same here, OnePlus 3T with Android 7.0.

  • Posts: 1,018
    This issue should be fixed in our next release. It is currently awaiting QA pass and a few remaining things are being worked on.

    In the meantime, I would recommend trying with OpenVPN directly as a workaround: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/pages/client-support/android-openvpn-connect
  • Posts: 1
    Max-P said:
    This issue should be fixed in our next release. It is currently awaiting QA pass and a few remaining things are being worked on.

    In the meantime, I would recommend trying with OpenVPN directly as a workaround: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/pages/client-support/android-openvpn-connect
    Has that update been pushed? I'm seeing the same behaviour (anywhere from 15% to 40%).

    Details:
    Xiaomi Mi A1
    Android 8.0.0
    PIA version: 1.4.5(196)
  • Posts: 1,018
    Max-P said:
    This issue should be fixed in our next release. It is currently awaiting QA pass and a few remaining things are being worked on.

    In the meantime, I would recommend trying with OpenVPN directly as a workaround: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/pages/client-support/android-openvpn-connect
    Has that update been pushed? I'm seeing the same behaviour (anywhere from 15% to 40%).

    Details:
    Xiaomi Mi A1
    Android 8.0.0
    PIA version: 1.4.5(196)
    It has, yes. That would mean you're probably running into a different issue.

    Can you send us a screenshot of the details of the PIA app's consumption? I highly suspect it's going to be because it keeps your mobile radio active, which is a big battery drain.
  • edited March 6 Posts: 12
    What usage should we be seeing?

    Pixel 2
    Android 8.1.0
    PIA 1.4.5 (196)

    Mine is currently sat at 17% (358mAh) with the last full charge being 13h 16 min ago.


    Post edited by JollyRoger on
  • edited March 8 Posts: 1
    I'm getting similar usage and would like to know if this is average.
    OnePlus 5T
    Android 8.0.0
    PIA 1.4.5
    Post edited by goldenxtofu on
  • Posts: 2
    So I'm running a pixel 2 with 8.1 and pia of having a huge drain on my battery. I'm coming up to my renewal and while I don't really want to go VPN shopping, PIA is unusable due to the horrible battery drain I'm getting. Over night it sucks 20 of my battery instead of 2 percent it used to on my old Motorola. Is anyone from PIA monitoring this thread?
  • Posts: 1,018
    @phonehog Yes, we are monitoring this thread and still actively look for definitive solutions to this. It's a very non-trivial issue that seems to highly depend on the phone hardware itself, maybe even the carrier and modem chip. This could be a fundamental problem with OpenVPN itself too as the affected people seem to suffer from the same amount of drain when using OpenVPN Connect as well as OpenVPN for Android...

    Somewhat unrelated but I just came back from a trip to the US and while data roaming, my phone was draining battery like crazy at a similar rate than what people in this thread experience (without using the VPN). Running PIA or not had zero effect on my phone, but it was already draining. If normal operation of mobile network can cause the drain then it's possible that on some phones the mere fact of having the VPN connection open, even if idle, could cause significant drain just like my data roaming did to me in my trip.


    I've just asked the developers for more details/status information on this so I can provide more details as to what's going on.
  • Posts: 2
    Right on, glad to see support monitoring. At first I thought maybe PIA was showing really bad drain because all my internet traffic was routing through it and Android just reported PIA as the offender when it was everything. I generally leave only WiFi on at night anyway, but when I turn off PIA I wake up to way more battery than if I had left it on all night. I get that my phone is doing the encrypting and there will be some drain, but it can't be this much.

    I haven't actually checked it since the last update so maybe it's fixed now. Planning on leaving PIA on all night again this week and seeing how it goes. Hoping for the best.
  • Posts: 1,018
    @phonehog PIA definitely does get the blame for both data and power consumption because it ends up being the one transmitting data over the mobile radio, but I still wouldn't expect that much drain.

    You mentioned being on WiFi overnight however, and that grabs my attention. So far, my understanding of this issue was that it had something to do with the mobile radio as for most people, it shows as battery usage over cellular network. I've always suspected it's got something to do with the VPN keeping the mobile radio awake, which uses a lot of power (less so on LTE but if you switch to 3G mode, rip battery). WiFi tends to be a lot more lightweight on battery than mobile data since it doesn't have to transmit nearly as far and maintaining a data channel open is also simpler/faster. That shifts the issue elsewhere which is puzzling.

    Do you download a lot of data over the VPN during the time the VPN is in use overnight? Google Play store updates possibly or other similar things?

    Please do report back if you find anything!
  • Posts: 1
    I have been experiencing the same issues since about a month and a half or so. I can remember restarting my phone one day and seeing PIA open up in what looked like a kind of Dev mode. I can remember it indicating a switch being turned on saying something in the lines of 'mobile data/radio on always'. I just closed of PIA and suddenly had to login again (with the recent warning message issue that my subscription was almost up, which was false). Ever since, I have been experiencing this problem. When I look at my app data usage, the background data is clearly switched off.

    Running a Sony Xperia X Compact on 8.0.0 with PIA 1.4.5.2 (198).
  • Posts: 1,018
    @Switch4x4 That's a strange one. That doesn't sound like something Android lets applications control, therefore I'm a bit suspicious it's PIA in itself.

    Could this possibly be similar to this that Pixel users are reporting with Oreo, since your phone also runs Oreo? https://www.reddit.com/r/GooglePixel/comments/6wiwrq/psa_turn_off_mobile_data_always_on_on_oreo_for/
  • Posts: 1
    I have the same problem with PIA battery draining my Samsung Galaxy S9+ on Oreo 8.0. I just registered to point out the issue is not solved, and makes the mobile app unusable. I had around 25% battery usage consumed by PIA in one day. Around half a day I was on WiFi, other on a mobile network. 


  • Posts: 1
    I confirm having the same problem on my Blu R1 HD phone. Battery usage is over 30% and usually even 40%.
  • Posts: 1
    Crazy battery drain on my Mi A1 running 8.0 on April security update.
  • edited May 14 Posts: 1
    Same issue here... Pixel XL (original) on Oreo 8.1.0 with PIA 1.4.5.2 (198)
    Post edited by Isealm on
  • edited May 19 Posts: 1
    Same here Pixel XL Android 8.1.0 PIA 1.5 (246). I've seen it as much as 48%.
    Post edited by zroman87 on
  • Posts: 1
    Same problem on MotoX, Android 7.1.1. Hope it gets resolved soon.
Sign In or Register to comment.