In-app services company Urban Airship recently pushed a wealth of information on mobile device connectivity, or more specifically, something called "connection durability." This metric refers to the average duration of an IP connection, which can be measured by the number of times a device's data connection reconnects throughout the day.

Although its sample isn't clean enough to make statistically supported statements, Urban Airship believes it's still a fascinating look into the life of a mobile device on data networks throughout the world. We agree. For example, why is the Nexus S at the top of the charts for reconnections? Why do devices in China stay so well-connected? And how often does your own device lose a signal, on average?

Top Four Findings

So what did Urban Airship discover in its analysis? There are 4 main takeaways (click for bigger charts):

  1. Most devices (55%) lose their connection and reconnect less than 10 times per day, averaging one connection every 2.4 hours. 96.2% lose their connection less than 100 times per day. Those phones that lose their connection more often are probably malfunctioning or have a consistently poor connection.
  2. Devices in China have the fewest disconnect/reconnect events, while devices in Japan have the most, followed by France. (Note: Countries with fewer than 1,000 devices in the sample were excluded from the chart.)
  3. NTT Docomo (Japan) and Bouygues (France) have the highest number of reconnections.
  4. The Samsung Nexus S and T-Mobile G2 showed the highest reconnect rates. LG's Optimus V, T and M phones were similarly troubled. The Motorola Xoom showed the fewest reconnections, but that could be because tablets aren't carried around as often as phones are.

About the Research

Urban Airship's interest in this data is due to its effects on the reliability of background services like sync and messaging, and as a company providing background services, it needs to have a thorough understanding of what's going on in this area.

There are a number of things that can affect low-quality or short-lived connections, the company says. Walking into an elevator, getting on the subway, moving away from windows in a large building or going down into a basement. Also, CDMA devices drop their data connection whenever calls are made. In addition, mobile networks have dead spots, some users run "Task Killer" apps to shut off unneeded connections and some phones drop connections when switching from 3G/EGDE to Wi-Fi.

The company performed its analysis using logs it had collected from devices in the field with a special focus on Android devices running Urban Airship's Helium messaging platform. It should be noted that the sample isn't pure enough to support statistically sound statements about the reliability of any given device, carrier or connection within a country.

You can read about these tests in more detail on the Urban Airship blog.