On the Impact of Code Smells on the Energy Consumption of Mobile Applications

Fabio Palomba, Dario Di Nucci, Annibale Panichella, Andy Zaidman, Andrea De Lucia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)
166 Downloads (Pure)


Context. The demand for green software design is steadily growing higher especially in the context of mobile devices, where the computation is often limited by battery life. Previous studies found how wrong programming solutions have a strong impact on the energy consumption. Objective. Despite the efforts spent so far, only a little knowledge on the influence of code smells, i.e.,symptoms of poor design or implementation choices, on the energy consumption of mobile applications is available. Method. To provide a wider overview on the relationship between smells and energy efficiency, in this paper we conducted a large-scale empirical study on the influence of 9 Android-specific code smells on the energy consumption of 60 Android apps. In particular, we focus our attention on the design flaws that are theoretically supposed to be related to non-functional attributes of source code, such as performance and energy consumption. Results. The results of the study highlight that methods affected by four code smell types, i.e.,Internal Setter, Leaking Thread, Member Ignoring Method, and Slow Loop, consume up to 87 times more than methods affected by other code smells. Moreover, we found that refactoring these code smells reduces energy consumption in all of the situations. Conclusions. Based on our findings, we argue that more research aimed at
designing automatic refactoring approaches and tools for mobile apps is needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-55
Number of pages13
JournalInformation and Software Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Code smells
  • Refactoring
  • Energy consumption
  • Mobile apps


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