Sprint Connections Optimizer: Friend or foe?

Sprint Connections Optimizer - for some reason we don't have an alt tag hereNow that the original HTC EVO 4G, the EVO 3D, the EVO Design 4G, and the EVO 4G LTE have all been updated to include Sprint’s Connections Optimizer app, it’s time we take a close look at what this app does, and how useful it really is.

If Connections Optimizer is installed on your phone, it’s generally available as “Automatic Connections” in your mobile network settings. It purports to help you “manage and enhance your data experience by finding and connecting to ‘remembered’ Wi-Fi networks on your device and, if applicable, the Sprint 4G Network.” In other words, this app – which Sprint is actually in the process of rolling out to its entire Android line up – will automatically connect you to available WiFi networks as you travel around throughout the day and go about your business. Sprint claims (with partial correctness) that this will help preserve your battery, as connecting to available WiFi is usually much more battery efficient than connecting to 3G or 4G, although this won’t necessarily always provide you with a “better” data experience.

For example, if someone is constantly walking around a college campus that has spotty WiFi, your phone may constantly bounce between weak WiFi signals and the mobile network, resulting in data that’s borderline unusable for the end user. Additionally, some WiFi networks require you to sign in or accept some terms and conditions before use; Sprint Connections Optimizer won’t take care of that automatically for you, resulting in a connection to WiFi with no data transfer.

Another potential issue with Connections Optimizer is the fact that it doesn’t actually toggle your WiFi radios on and off; you still have to manually shut off your radios if you don’t want your device to connect to WiFi. Failing to do this might result in your phone constantly searching for an available WiFi network, or connecting to weak WiFi networks, which might ultimately kill your battery faster than if you were simply to keep WiFi off and remain connected to 3G or 4G instead.

At the same time, some people have reported connecting to certain WiFi networks when they did not intend to do so; in other words, Connections Optimizer forced WiFi on due to the location of the phone. This might be all right for some people, but others prefer that WiFi remain off when they manually turn it off. This “feature” might be a big headache for some users.

Therefore, I think that for general WiFi management and automatic toggling, there are much better apps out there you can choose. My personal favorite is Smart WiFi Toggler, which I reviewed last month, but others are just as good. Smart WiFi Toggler will keep WiFi off when you manually turn it off, regardless of your location, for example. It will also automatically turn off your WiFi radios when you travel away from a WiFi network, unlike Connections Optimizer.

There are also privacy concerns with Connections Optimizer, too: Sprint warns, “To facilitate quality assurance and enable feature enhancements, your wireless service provider collects information about your battery levels, Wi-Fi, and network connections and usage.” In other words, you are sharing quite a bit of information with Sprint – something not everyone will feel comfortable doing.

However, there is one use case in which I find Connections Optimizer to really shine: If you own a WiMAX phone, like the EVO 4G or the EVO 3D, this app will help you automatically connect to 4G when you travel to an area where it’s available. Unlike Sprint’s newer LTE-compatible phones, WiMAX acts more like WiFi in that you have to remember to turn it on and off; leaving your WiMAX radio on all the time is a huge battery drain – much more so than leaving your WiFi on all the time. Sprint Connections Optimizer can definitely help with this – but only if you occasionally travel to a WiMAX service area.

So what’s my ultimate verdict in regards to Connections Optimizer? It might be OK for the more inexperienced people, and it will certainly help Sprint clear up some space on its overly congested 3G network, But honestly, most Sprint customers can find better apps that will manage what this app is supposed to do.

Pocketables does not accept targeted advertising, phony guest posts, paid reviews, etc. Help us keep this way with support on Patreon!
become a patron button - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

John F

John was the editor-in-chief at Pocketables. His articles generally focus on all things Google, including Chrome and Android, although his love of new gadgets and technology doesn't stop there. His current arsenal includes the Nexus 6 by Motorola, the 2013 Nexus 7 by ASUS, the Nexus 9 by HTC, the LG G Watch, and the Chromebook Pixel, among others.

Avatar of John F

32 thoughts on “Sprint Connections Optimizer: Friend or foe?

  • Avatar of Fritz T
    February 25, 2013 at 1:04 pm
    Permalink

    Thank goodness for root. I got rid of it. it’s just a pain for me. No wimax no LTE in my area, so its either 3g or wifi. It hurt my battery more than it helped.

    Reply
  • Avatar of john
    February 25, 2013 at 1:17 pm
    Permalink

    good article, john. i leave connection optimizer on my evo lte off. i only use wifi at home and at work. i have been picking up LTE more and more as i move around maryland. thanks again.

    Reply
    • Avatar of beans
      October 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm
      Permalink

      Yes it seens like 4g is getting better in Maryland.halethorpe area here

      Reply
  • Avatar of Hwyman
    February 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm
    Permalink

    I thought it was kind of nice that it would jump to wifi when I was either at home or at my gf’s. It saved me a step, but it was oddly inconsistent (i.e. it didn’t always do it). In light of some of the other issues highlighted above which never occurred to me…I’m inclined to disable it.

    Reply
    • Avatar of John Freml
      February 25, 2013 at 1:34 pm
      Permalink

      I tried it for about a week, and it was so inconsistent that I did the same. Back to Smart WiFi Toggler for me! :-)

      Reply
  • Avatar of Paul E King
    February 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm
    Permalink

    it’s a foe.

    Had to disable it when it kept switching modes when the power would be plugged in, or the screen go off.

    Also would randomly interfere with other programs “oh, you want to know the 3G strength here… no, screw you you’re at home you get wifi”

    If I was doing any sort of tethering, forget it… if you’re in a car or walking somewhere it doesn’t know it kept turning off wifi…

    Reply
  • Avatar of NelsonTitua
    February 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm
    Permalink

    FOE!. i would turn off 3g wifi during night time while i slept and it would turn both on for some reason so instead of having 100% in the morning when i woke it would be at around 80 mainly because 3g was being switched on.

    Reply
  • Avatar of james
    February 25, 2013 at 3:43 pm
    Permalink

    you think it would be smart enough to choose a fast, strong 3G connection over an anemic wifi signal.. no

    never works when its supposed to, foe, its crap

    Reply
  • Avatar of Masterpoolcat
    February 25, 2013 at 4:12 pm
    Permalink

    I don’t understand the difference between this and how my phone normally is. I leave WiFi on my phone on all the time. Whenever I go to my office or I’m at home, the phone automatically connects to WiFi. When I leave, it switches back to 3G. This is without the connections optimizer enabled. Am I missing something here?

    Reply
    • Avatar of Zachary Jacob Zblewski
      February 25, 2013 at 4:51 pm
      Permalink

      Many people do the same thing, that is why Sprint came out with this app. You can drain your battery pretty quick by leaving WiFi toggled on all day when you aren’t connected to a network. Your phone will continually search for a WiFi network in the background.

      Reply
      • Avatar of devo4g
        February 26, 2013 at 12:25 pm
        Permalink

        False. Leaving WiFi on all day doesn’t really hurt battery, as mentioned in the article.

        The “reason” Sprint pushed this app out is to try to divert as much traffic as possible off of its crowded 3G networks. As mentioned in the article.

        Overall I don’t really love this “feature”. There are some scenarios where it benefits the user as much as it benefits Sprint, but not many.

        Reply
        • Avatar of Zachary Jacob Zblewski
          February 27, 2013 at 1:11 pm
          Permalink

          My battery drains faster when I leave WiFi on and disconnected from a network.

          Reply
  • Avatar of Jennifer
    February 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm
    Permalink

    Looks like another reason to leave Sprint when my contract ends. How does this app know that I can trust the wireless network I’m in range of? I don’t always WANT to connect to a random wireless network. At least I’m already in the habit of turning wi-fi off when I’m out and about, but not everyone does this.

    Reply
    • Avatar of juan
      February 25, 2013 at 6:19 pm
      Permalink

      Connects only to the wireless networks you have connected to before never a new random WiFi signal. If your at an airport or some where with free WiFi in won’t connect unless you have used that network before.

      Reply
  • Avatar of JRDemaskus
    February 25, 2013 at 10:29 pm
    Permalink

    I would prefer to manage the radios myself.
    How easy is it to disable this “service”? Is root required?

    Reply
  • Avatar of Dan
    February 26, 2013 at 5:31 am
    Permalink

    I just turned it off. Somehow I missed this setting, but I suspect it’s been causing an issue I’ve been suspicious of for a while. On my drive home, it seemed like I would lose internet access (when streaming media), and it’s always in an area where my phone picks up different wifi networks, which I don’t have access to. It stopped/improved, when I shut off my wifi. I’m going to see if turning this off, will improve things.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Zachary Jacob Zblewski
    February 26, 2013 at 7:26 am
    Permalink

    I’ve done a factory reset, turned off the connection optimizer, disabled the actual app in app settings, turned my WiFi off, and connected to 3G. My phone still tries to connect to the WiFi when I get to work. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Avatar of Simon Belmont
      February 26, 2013 at 10:03 am
      Permalink

      I wonder if it turning itself on automatically means it’s associated with your account now. It does mention that it takes analytics from your device.

      There has to be a way to stop it. I’m just out of ideas on how to accomplish that.

      Reply
      • Avatar of Andrew
        April 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm
        Permalink

        if you want it truely gone from your phone might as well root your phone and use a root app uninstaller and take it off

        Reply
  • Avatar of chrislvb
    February 26, 2013 at 8:30 am
    Permalink

    I have this disabled on my phone. I have an ap I love to use called timeriffic. It lets me setup time based profiles, so my phone turns wifi, sound, vibrate, etc. on and off at specific times. My phone already switches automatically from 3G to 4G whenever I am close to a tower, and if my wifi is on, is I go close to wifi, I either connect automatically if I have before, or I have the option to connect. I don’t need Sprint getting involved.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Matthew
    February 26, 2013 at 9:36 am
    Permalink

    The FCC forced HTC to update their devices….read the NY times link on the Evo 3d blog. They had numerous glitches including the ability of third party apps to record calls without permissions. Samsung is more and more tempting for my next phone!

    Reply
    • Avatar of devo4g
      February 26, 2013 at 12:40 pm
      Permalink

      i searched a long time based on many permutations of the keywords in your claim and could not find any evidence of this. link please?

      Reply
      • Avatar of Simon Belmont
        February 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm
        Permalink

        He talked about this in another article comment section. I think he’s talking about the HTC Loggers and CarrierIQ debacle.

        Needless to say, HTC sent out updates for that a LONG time ago. Like back in late 2011 and early 2012.

        Reply
        • Avatar of devo4g
          February 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm
          Permalink

          ah – yes that might explain it. thanks.

          Reply
  • Avatar of Simon Belmont
    February 26, 2013 at 9:58 am
    Permalink

    My beef with it is that I get very little say on what it’s going to do. I don’t like that it will associate with any Wi-Fi network, which is a security hazard in itself (man in the middle attacks).

    This app is mainly to benefit Sprint by offloading throughput from their network. I use Llama which is smart enough to turn off Wi-Fi dynamically.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Martin
    February 26, 2013 at 6:44 pm
    Permalink

    I still don’t understand what additional functionality this app provides over just leaving WiFi on and having it connect automatically to WiFi at work and Home with 3G/4G otherwise.

    It says it only connects to remembered networks, so it’s not doing anything different there.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Andrew
    April 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm
    Permalink

    I work for sprint and I hate it with a passion. It will also cause your phone to stop having data services when you should have it. I have found that turning the damn thing off is best for any phone it is on. I wouldn’t trust it even if my life depended on it!!!!!

    Reply
  • Avatar of Seon
    August 2, 2013 at 8:57 am
    Permalink

    Hey John got one simple question for you, how do i get this cramp off my phone Its killing my battery badly?

    Reply
  • Avatar of Jay
    November 7, 2013 at 3:45 pm
    Permalink

    How is the Connection Optimizer different from your phone finding available WiFi networks on its owe? You still have to choose to connect to the available network that the Connection Optimizer finds. I have been missing calls when it switches in between networks. I just moved back to Android from Windows and Apple. iPhone and Windows notify you of available networks.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Dan
    December 19, 2013 at 9:22 am
    Permalink

    Please tell us where in the menu is this “Connection Optimizer” (or whatever it’s called) option generally located on Android smartphones/devices? I used to have an EVO, but now I have an SG3 and it’s doing what this article describes. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Dan
    December 19, 2013 at 9:24 am
    Permalink

    Ah, I found it on the SG3:
    Settings > Connections > More networks > Mobile networks > Connections optimizer

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.