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Your 'free' apps could be costing you more than your paid apps

Free versions of apps used 16 percent more energy, 22 percent more memory and 79 percent more network data than paid versions.
/ Source: TODAY

Nobody likes to fork over 99 cents for an app. Free is better, right? Not necessarily, according to a new study.

It turns out those free apps could be draining your phone's battery and your data plan. Researchers compared the paid and free versions of 21 top apps in the Google Play store. It turns out that the free versions on average used 16 percent more energy, 22 percent more memory and 79 percent more network data.

For those struggling to stay below their monthly data limit, adding a free app could be costly — especially if the paid version is only a couple of bucks.

People who downloaded the free apps noticed the drain. Overall, the free version of an app was rated .003 stars lower than its paid counterpart on Google Play's five-star scale, according to the researchers from the University of Southern California (USC), Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and Queen’s University in Canada.

"In absolute terms, this is very low, but in the crowded and competitive world of apps, it’s a huge difference," William Halfond, co-author of the report and an assistant professor of computer science at USC, said in a statement. "It can make the difference between your app getting downloaded or going unnoticed."

So next time you're downloading an app, you might want to spend that extra dollar and give your phone's battery and data plan a rest.