Residential vs. Mobile Proxies: Unraveling the Ideal Proxy for Your Needs

Written By Alla Levin
August 03, 2023

Residential vs. Mobile Proxies: The Ideal Proxy for Your Needs

Proxies are invaluable with the current state of online surveillance and Internet censorship. On the one hand, Big Tech companies blatantly collect user data opting to pay fines instead of adhering to online privacy rules. Simultaneously, governments and private businesses restrict access to crucial data for one reason or another.

Proxies are a popular solution to secure online activities and bypass content restrictions. This networking technology hides the original user IP address and replaces it with an alternative, neutralizing numerous online tracking methods. Moreover, connecting to a proxy server in a different region can bypass geographical blocks and access its local content.

For a good time, residential proxies were the number 1 go-to tool for safe and unrestricted Internet access. But they have a strong competitor that’s been around long enough to make a name – mobile proxies. Because smartphones are now powerful enough to perform various online operations, they can be used as proxy servers with unique features.

Mobile and residential proxies share similarities, but the differences are significant. This article will compare the two to help you choose the best proxy type for your needs.

What are Residential Proxies?

A proxy is a third-party device used as an intermediary between the client and the server. Instead of direct communication, the dataflow is rerouted through the proxy server and assigned a new IP address. This way, the original IP address is hidden and cannot be exploited.

A residential proxy server comes from real users and their devices. In comparison, data center proxies get their IPs from enterprises with large server networks. The latter is easier to identify and unsuited for tasks requiring online privacy, such as competition monitoring, web scraping, and social media management. Residential proxy traffic flows through a genuine user device, making it much harder to identify it as a proxy server.

What are Mobile Proxies?

Like residential, mobile proxies also reroute the dataflow through a different device. Most of the time, it’s a smartphone or a tablet, but it can be any device that can read a SIM card. However, sometimes they are not assigned to a particular device but utilize the cellular network. A mobile device connected to a Wi-Fi network cannot act as a mobile proxy because it does not connect to a cell tower.

Mobile proxies provide the best IP reputation services outperforming their counterparts. Because mobile devices constantly connect to different towers, they always change IP addresses protecting users’ identities.

Cell towers also share IP addresses, making them much harder to ban. For example, Facebook will not risk banning a batch of mobile proxy IPs because it will deny access to many users that connect to a specific cell tower. Residential proxies are easier to ban because they have an ISP-issued IP address for a particular user.

Mobile and Residential Proxy ComparisonMobile and Residential Proxy Comparison

These two proxy types share the same underlying logic: they utilize a genuine third-party device to get its IP address and access the Internet via it. But because mobile proxies use cellular networks, they have significantly different features.

A carrier issues mobile proxy IPs that are not unique, meaning they are not assigned to a specific device or individual. It benefits operations that require online anonymity because it’s nearly impossible to trace back the IP address to a particular user. Furthermore, once another person starts using the same tower, they can get the same IP address. That’s why websites withhold from banning mobile IPs until the last resort.

Residential proxies use ISP IP addresses that are easier to track and can request a static dedicated IP reserved for a single user. Although it’s a setback privacy-wise, it allows browsing the Internet comfortably without exposing your original IP address. Social networks or banking websites can raise an eyebrow at constantly changing ISP IP addresses and put access restrictions preventable by a static IP.

Rotating residential proxies regularly changes user IP addresses for private online operations. They are also called backconnect proxies. Is there a difference between back connect and mobile proxies? The latter is much harder to identify as a proxy because the IP switch is inherent in the design. On the other hand, rotating residential proxies are also private and secure if their servers have not been flagged for illegal activities, spam, or irresponsible web scraping.

To summarize, mobile proxies are much harder to detect. And that brings us to the last difference – they are also more expensive than residential proxies.

Mobile and Residential Proxy Use Cases

It’s essential to notice that mobile proxies improve on residential rather than provide different use cases, with an exception. Mobile proxies can uniquely be used to access mobile-specific content and combined with a scraper to target mobile-centric websites. Currently, more than half of all Internet traffic is mobile, with more and more websites optimized for it. Gathering such website data will go smoother using mobile proxies instead of residential.

Otherwise, the two types can be efficiently used to evade geographical restrictions, perform market research, monitor competitors and verify ads, manage social media, optimize SEO tasks, compare prices, etc.

Mobile proxies are best used when online anonymity matters most. For example, if you want to manage dozens of Twitter accounts undetectably, then mobile IP rotation will look more organic than ISP-issued IPs. Using a static IP address for multiple accounts can result in all account bans. Don’t hesitate to check our other article to learn more about staying anonymous online.

Lastly, residential proxies are more reliable and have better uptime. If your mobile proxy server takes a metro, you will experience a huge lag or be disconnected. Residential proxy devices (most often personal computers) are mostly online, offering a 99.9% uptime. They should be used for operations that require a stable connection, such as data scraping, large file transfers, or simply watching a geo-blocked TV show.

Last Words: Is the Future Mobile?

You must have noticed that mobile proxies offer valuable and unique advantages. Although we don’t say that residential or datacenter are going anywhere, the mobile proxy industry is expanding. Opting for mobile-only proxies is inefficient because residential can perform the same tasks cheaper. However, if the pricing changes, the situation must be reevaluated since mobile IPs provide outstanding undetectability and privacy features.

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