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Why you shouldn’t use an Android phone in China (feat. Why the Galaxy S24 for China is equipped with 12GB RAM)Translated from Korean to English via Korean Forum via Meeko

Originally, this article was posted on a Chinese café, but there are also answers to questions that the IT community may have their own questions (e.g., why do Chinese smartphone manufacturers install such a large amount of RAM?), so I will post it here with some modifications.

And I’ve kept the aggro title as it is to increase your click-through rate. Again, as an apology, I will first give you a three-line summary.

1. Android apps basically use a service called FCM to send push notifications to the device.

2. However, FCM is rarely used in China, so most domestic apps eat up a lot of RAM and battery on the device in order for push notifications to go well.

3. Even the Chinese government has tried to solve this problem, but it has been very sluggish.


When I look around the café, I sometimes say, “The Galaxy phone I used in Korea came to China, so the battery seems to be running out quickly and slowing down!” There are people who complain about the problem. Is it because of my mood?

If you didn’t do anything and your phone tasted bad as soon as you stepped into the airport in China, it would be a ghost, but in order to prepare for settling in China, you can use the essential apps for life in China, such as Alipay, WeChat, Meituan, Godeokji, Didi Taobao… If you feel that way while using your phone, this is a very normal phenomenon. Originally, Chinese-made apps slow down Android phones and drained batteries quickly.

Why?

Firebase Cloud Messaging, or FCM for short, is a free push notification service provided by Google. If an app needs to send a push notification to a user’s device, it doesn’t send it directly to the device, but it first sends the notification to the FCM server, which then sends it back to the device.

The good thing about this is that all the apps that need to send push notifications don’t have to reside in your device’s memory, so your phone doesn’t slow down or drain your battery quickly. Therefore, it is common for apps in countries where Google services work normally, except for China, to send push notifications through FCM.

But there’s a problem. FCM is a service of Google (to be exact, a company called Firebase, which Google has acquired), and Google is blocked in China. So you can sell Android phones in China, but they’re released without all the Google services, and of course, FCM is missing.

So what should you do?

The simplest way to do this is to blindly reside the app in the user’s device memory so that it runs in the background 24 hours a day, even if the app is terminated. That way, you never miss an app notification from the server and deliver it to the user’s phone.

Of course, the disadvantages of this method are also obvious. It eats up your battery and memory tremendously, causing your phone to stutter rapidly and your battery to start draining quickly.

(Not long ago, the basic RAM capacity of the Galaxy S24 was 8 gigabytes, but it was quite controversial because it added 12 gigabytes only for domestic use in China. The industry analyzed this as “to keep up with the RAM inflation competition in the Chinese smartphone market”. Then why do Chinese phones have a large RAM capacity? Is it because China’s technology is superior? Or because they want to show off their specs? No, in China, the amount of RAM must be that much to be able to use the phone smoothly.)

This simple and ignorant method is such a no-answer that manufacturers have even created their own push notification service. Among them, relatively major push services are Xiaomi’s MiPush and Huawei’s Huawei Push.

Of course, this also has its drawbacks: it can only be used on the manufacturer’s phone (although there is a Magisk module that allows you to use mipush on other manufacturers’ phones…), and the app has to support the push service separately. The second drawback is particularly fatal: even MiPush, which has the most supported apps, doesn’t support WeChat, China’s national messenger app.

WeChat is such a big app that it’s indispensable to life in China, so if you don’t get notifications properly, you’ll think, “That’s my phone’s problem, not mine, right? If you twist it, you can delete WeChat or cast “ha ha” and it won’t hurt them at all. In a word, the developer is the absolute gap, the manufacturer is the Eul.)

In the end, the lesser Chinese government (the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, to be exact) set out to overhaul the Chinese app ecosystem. In addition to regularly removing apps that insert excessive advertisements and induce financial damage from China’s major app stores (such as each manufacturer’s App Store and Tencent’s App Store), in 2017, the company gathered major Android device manufacturers in China (including Samsung) to launch a push notification standard called 统一推送联盟 (Unified Push Alliance).

But actually, the government is very lukewarm about this push notification standardization project. Seven years have passed, and apart from changing the name to 统一推送工作委员会, there is nothing to be called an achievement or change. In the interim, the homepage domain was sold, so someone bought it and posted a composite photo of the grave with the Push Federation logo.

In other words, the conclusion is, “If you use an Android phone in China, the battery will wear out and stutter, and this seems to be a problem that will not be solved until Google enters China again.”


So is there a solution? Not that there isn’t.​

1. Buy an iPhone

This is the most fundamental solution. Unlike Google, which was kicked out by China a long time ago, Apple has not yet been blocked by any service because it has done a good job with the Chinese government, such as putting its iCloud servers in China. Apple’s push notification service, APNS, also works well in China.

On top of that, the iOS App Store scans all the apps that come up, so even the biggest apps can’t eat up your battery or bombard you with ad push notifications.

It is said that a small number of Chinese people who must use Android, such as diehard fans and developers, buy a separate iPhone to install Chinese apps.

But you can’t get used to the iPhone at all?

2. Buy your phone in China

In order to cope with the chaotic app ecosystem in China, most of the major Chinese smartphone manufacturers have very good convenience features such as forcing the root of background apps and blocking apps that run in a hurry. Samsung, perhaps the only foreign smartphone manufacturer that seems to have the heart to do business in China, is also very good at localizing its products for the domestic market in order to survive in this tough market. On top of that, some manufacturers have their own push services, so you can feel less battery drain. (However, you have to bear the problem of backdoors and unauthorized insertion of advertisements by some manufacturers.)

3. Don’t use Chinese apps as much as possible

This method is somewhat in line with number 1. If you don’t use Chinese apps, you don’t have to suffer from Chinese apps. When I was in China, I didn’t use any Chinese social media except WeChat (although app optimization wasn’t the only reason), and I used PC or mobile web for services that I didn’t need to install on my phone, such as Taobao. Alternatively, you can replace it with WeChat mini-programs.

Of course, there are apps such as WeChat, Alipay, and Maps that are impossible to do without in Chinese life, so it is not a fundamental solution.

4. Download it from the Play Store if possible

Apps on the Play Store, not on the Chinese App Store or its own website, adhere to Google’s standard norms “by no reason”. In the case of WeChat, 1. Install it from the play store and 2. They said that if both conditions used in foreign countries are matched, FCM will be activated. The only problem is that many apps aren’t even listed on PLS.

5. Methods for Professionals

Apps like Brevent, IceBox, and Greenify can help you prevent apps from running in the background to some extent. However, this also has its limitations, and some of them require complicated or even dangerous processes such as ADB or rooting, so we won’t go into detail here.

Source: Meeko korea (forum) – Korean