My company has written and published some Android Apps on the Android Market. A couple of times now we've had complaints from customers who are not able to download and install the App - I believe the Android Market website is not letting them download it to their phones.

We're still trying to get more details from the customers but one thing I've noticed in common is that these customers are on prepaid providers (specifically, Boost Mobile and Cricket).

One of our App's requirements in the store is "full Internet access" (the android.permission.INTERNET intent must be doing this). I have no idea how these prepaid providers tend to handle data usage. I can't imagine that they have unlimited data but they have to have something, right?

Has anyone run into a problem with using a prepaid Android phone and trying to download Apps from the Android Market?

  • 1
    I've got a Virgin Mobile android phone, but they also give me unlimited data with the prepay (with throttling added come March), so I can't say if hard limits break it. But, at least not all prepaid phones will.
    – fire.eagle
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 20:24
  • The Market does seem have the ability to restrict apps by carrier, I think. I don't really know how that works or if it would be a factor in your instance, though. Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 20:26
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    Google will block apps from carriers if so requested by the carrier, from what I understand, but they should be invisible and not merely fail to download. What exactly is the error they get / behavior they see? If it's just general failure then you should probably take it up with Google support -- we can only help with the end-user side of things here. Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 20:43
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    @Schnapple I have a test phone on Boost running Gingerbread. If you provide a link to the apps I would be happy to try to download them and take a screen shot of any errors I see
    – amy
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 7:29
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    I have noticed that apps larger than 20MB are marked with a "Wi-Fi" badge that indicates the app can only be downloaded via Wi-Fi. Maybe the carrier controls that limit?
    – Roy Goode
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 21:15

2 Answers 2


I highly doubt it's to do with being 'pre-paid' or not.

More likely, it could be from a number of reasons. Such as internet connection where carriers can limit the download file size.

I personally know that DL'ing larger files over the carrier network will fail unless it has a 'resume' or some sort of authentication feature.


The internet permission should affect how your app runs (or if it's visible on the market) but I wouldn't expect it to affect installation. Do you have any additional permissions that you require? Is your app set to download by Wi-Fi only?

Is it possible that you sometimes access a feature that you haven't requested in the manifest? For example, if you don't have access to a 3G network to you query the ConnectivityManager to get a different connection? Your app may exhibit certain behavior only when it encounters a specific network configuration. You'll have problems only when your app tries to use a permission that it hasn't requested.

If your app is paid, it could be a problem with the customer's payment method (carrier billing may be a problem with prepaid). I sometimes see repeated attempts to purchase an app of mine, which are all declined.

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