Let’s Debunk Mobile Crypto Mining

Let’s Debunk Mobile Crypto Mining

Nicoleta Balan Avatar
Nov 11, 2022
8 min reading time

Cryptocurrency mining may seem attractive to those looking to get some of that magical internet money. But as ASIC took over the proof of work mining, while staking kept getting more expensive, people started to look towards mobile crypto mining. 

Mobile mining sounds attractive, considering you only have to use your mobile device for it. And as mobile devices started being used more and more to access the internet, mobile mining opportunities also increased. 

But are they for real? Let’s see. 

The concept of mobile mining explained 

The concept of mobile cryptocurrency mining refers to mining for cryptocurrency directly from a mobile device. 

Let’s see how proof-of-work and proof-of-stake apply. 

Mobile Proof-of-Work 

For proof-of-work mining, the mobile device has to solve the equation as fast as possible, using as much computation power as possible.  

Considering that most proof-of-work cryptocurrencies have dedicated ASIC devices for mining, not even the most performant smartphone would do much.  

Let’s take an iPhone 14Pro Max, which is supposed to have a 2×3.46 GHz Everest + 4×2.02 GHz Sawtooth frequency Hexa-core processor. Do you think it would do well in POW?   

Well, not really.  

Apple does not build its devices for mining, so the 14Pro Max may only reach around 100 H/s. On the other hand, dedicated mining hardware such as an Antminer R4 has a hash rate of 8.7 TH/s

At this rate, any non-specialized mobile hardware may get to confirm a transaction only out of sheer luck. 

Mobile Proof-of-Stake 

Proof-of-stake might be more suitable for a mobile phone. If you delegate your stake to a node, you may use any device as you don’t need much computational power. 

However, actively mining on a PoS cryptocurrency would imply opening up a node

A decent smartphone will do if you open up a node and confirm transactions.  

However, you might need advanced technical skills to set up a node on your mobile device. You may even find yourself in a situation where you must adapt the staking software to your mobile device. 

You can check on Tezos’ requirements for a node to understand what that would imply. 

Besides technicalities, you still need to fulfill some staking requirements to open up a node, which may vary from one cryptocurrency to another. Those requirements usually refer to the minimum amount of funds staked and getting an endorsement. 

Is Bitcoin mining on smartphones possible? 

Bitcoin mining on your phone is possible. Various apps facilitate Bitcoin mining on Android. 

But is it worth it? Not a chance! 

Again, you are competing against specialized hardware. 

You will only overclock your phone continuously and burn out the device. The phone will stay connected and draw as much energy as possible to run its computational power at full speed, and it won’t be anywhere near having a slight chance against an ASIC

You can play around with a mining calculator and see your profitability. 

By the way, consider that you must include the cost of replacing your phone after mining for only one month. 

But there is, of course, the illegal way, which some bad actors employ. They infect numerous mobile devices with malicious bitcoin mining software. This way, they get a lot of distributed computational power from many mobile devices. 

But as blockchain technology evolves, we hope those guys will be rooted out as soon as possible. 

Popular mobile mining apps 

Many apps offer all sorts of mining opportunities for bitcoin and altcoins. 

MinerGate 

Miner gate is an android app that offers proof of work mining for android devices.  

It indeed does what it says it does.  

However, we’ve found TechWizTime’s experiment in which he mined Monero with three OnePlus 5T phones, a Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus, a Bluboo S8 Plus, a Lenovo Tab4 8 Plus Tablet, and a Umidigi S2 Android Smartphone.  

With this setup, he got 110 h/s, and the mining calculator showed he could earn around 78 cents per week

Adding the cost of electricity and replacing burned devices, it sure sounds like a “deal.” 

Electronium 

Electronium promises to be a lightweight cryptocurrency that can be mined from a mobile device. 

At first, it employed a public GPU-based proof-of-work mining system. But as time passed, GPU mining became private, while the general public could get ETN only through cloud mining and plain app rewards

Today, anyone can download the app on their phone and check in every seven days to reset the mining period. It’s an airdrop that pours pennies at you for installing the app. 

Sweatcoin 

With the emergence of fitness apps and steps tracking apps, the crypto world found a way to imagine new consensus protocols based on them. 

It’s not the only cryptocurrency that does this, but we will only refer to Sweatcoin. It is a kind of “proof-of-activity” cryptocurrency that rewards you with a token for walking. 

You may earn, at best, 20 SWC for 20,000 steps per day. 

As the token is not traded on any exchange, its value ($0.012 USD) can only be derived from the rewards showcased on the app. 

There is no way you can claim your funds other than claiming a top prize. In exchange for 20,000 Sweatcoins, you can receive $1,000 via PayPal or a new iPhone (only once, though). Also, the app has a marketplace from which you can buy different types of subscriptions and other rewards. 

As a crypto-earning app, it doesn’t sound that great. But as a fitness app, it sounds charming. You can focus on regular daily exercise and get small rewards from time to time. 

As for that $1,000 prize, you would most likely qualify for that after years of usage. 

How about simulated mining? 

Besides traditional mining, there is also simulated mobile mining, which is more of an airdrop. 

First, simulated mining is not actual mining, as understood by the standard definition. It does not employ any resources and does not confirm transactions in any way. 

Users receive funds for acting like checking in after a while. 

We’ve already mentioned that Electroneum distributes its cryptocurrency through an airdrop-like app, which also includes it in this category. 

Besides Electroneum, the Pi Network project has gained much traction through its mobile simulated mining.  

Pi Network 

Pi Network is one of the most successful projects that has implemented simulated mining and gained traction. By October 2022, the app already got over 35 million engaged members with a 0.0147 Pi/h base rate and is currently working on the testnet.  

The Pi network launched its mobile mining app as a token distribution tool. 

While the simulated mining has no other role than distributing tokens to the community, the developers use it as a testing ground to see how a Byzantine Fault Tolerance protocol would apply. 

Once it reaches the mainnet, the team plans to move to a BFT consensus requiring a general network consensus over transactions instead of mining. 

One thing to mention is that the mining software, as explained in the whitepaper and launched for the testnet, only works on desktops. If that goes on the mainnet, will Pi really be mineable from a mobile device? 

Key takeaways 

  • The concept of mobile cryptocurrency mining refers to mining for cryptocurrency directly from a mobile device. 
  • Proof-of-work mining can be done through mobile devices with dedicated apps but is unlikely to be profitable. On the other hand, a smartphone could handle a proof-of-stake node as it won’t require much computing power but might require advanced technical skills and specific conditions. 
  • Bitcoin mining on your phone is undoubtedly possible. But another sure thing is that it will only lead to you burning up your phone without getting a profit. 
  • Some mobile crypto apps advertise themselves as game-changers. But the more you get into them, the more flaws you find. Do your own research thoroughly before deciding to install any crypto app.  
  • Simulated mobile mining works like an airdrop. It does not confirm transactions. But it can be used to understand the dynamic of a community. 
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