New report puts Android vs iOS security to the test — here’s the winner

Pixel 8 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max next to one another.
(Image credit: Future)

Most people think Apple's devices beat Android in smartphone security, especially in the never ending debate on Android versus iPhone. Researchers have decided to test that notion, and while Apple's smartphones do appear to be more secure than the competition, the iPhone is far from a perfectly locked-down device in terms of security issues.

Ernestas Naprys of Cybernews performed the research by taking a brand new iPhone and Android phone and installing the top 100 free apps from each platform's app store. He also created new social media accounts and authorized them in apps that would allow it.

From there, he let the phones sit idle for five days and tracked how often they connected to foreign servers and where the servers were. Interestingly, the iPhone sent more server queries than Android—3,308 daily versus 2,323. 

Don't let the number fool you, though. While Apple sent almost 1,000 more queries, 60% of them went directly to Apple, where they're safer. On Android, only 24% went to Google, with the rest going to third-party servers worldwide. For example, the iPhone averaged one Russian server daily, and the Android phone averaged 13. For Chinese servers, the iPhone didn't contact any, while the Android connected to five per day.

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 14 Pro Max in hand.

(Image credit: Future)

Overall, the iPhone was pickier about which servers it contacted despite the overall number being higher. With Facebook, the iPhone connected 20 times a day compared to almost 200 times daily for the Android phone. 

To track when server queries were sent and where they were sent to, Naprys used a private Domain Name System (DNS)

You don't necessarily need to be alarmed about the state of your Android or iPhone and its security, but it's something to think about. 

The Cybernews team said, "This by itself is not something that is unusual or very suspicious. These endpoints are used quite often in apps to track which ads users have watched, app usage, search patterns, and others. While this is a common practice, it does raise serious privacy and security concerns." 

"While the data that is collected by these services is generally not that sensitive, however, journalists, activists, opposition, or other people that could be of interest to governments should take this extremely seriously and be careful. They should avoid using such apps or, at the very least, block traffic tracking services," the team continued.

If you are concerned about your phone sending out requests to countries like Russia and China, you might want to stick with an iPhone. It's not perfect, but it does seem to be a little more thoughtful about choosing safe places and sticking with its own servers when possible. There are also privacy focused phones, like the Punkt phone introduced earlier this year at CES 2024, which uses an open-source code version of Android.

More from Tom's Guide

Back to Mobile Cell Phones
Storage Size
Any Price
Showing 10 of 224 deals
(256GB Blue)
Our Review
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max Blue...
Mint Mobile
Our Review
Samsung - Galaxy S24 Ultra...
Best Buy
Our Review
Google Pixel 8 Pro 128 GB in...
Our Review
Google Pixel 8 Pro - 128 GB
AT&T Mobility
Our Review
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max 256GB...
Our Review
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra...
Our Review
Total by Verizon - Samsung...
Total by Verizon
Load more deals
Dave LeClair
Senior News Editor

Dave LeClair is the Senior News Editor for Tom's Guide, keeping his finger on the pulse of all things technology. He loves taking the complicated happenings in the tech world and explaining why they matter. Whether Apple is announcing the next big thing in the mobile space or a small startup advancing generative AI, Dave will apply his experience to help you figure out what's happening and why it's relevant to your life.

  • JustJoeMan
    I'm sorry, who's the winner?
  • Techtomic
    So they installed the top 100 free apps in each app store; presumably this accounts for the geographical differences of the requests. What is so sinister or insecure regarding the results....or is it click bait?
  • Techtomic
    Techtomic said:
    ...or is it click bait?
    Oh I noticed the forum thread title is which phone pings foreign servers more? But the article title is New report puts Android vs iOS security to the test
    I think I answered my own question.