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Proxies are a universal tool to gather data, overcome geo-restrictions, and take care of your security—all at once. Residential and mobile proxies, in particular, are known for being hard to detect. They help you create a “genuine user” look and stay under the radar of anti-bot systems. However, there are several major differences between them in terms of performance, speed, and reliability. In this article, we explain the core advantages and use cases of both types and answer the most important question: how to make the right choice between residential and mobile proxies.

How do proxies work?

Residential or mobile, all proxies have the same operating principle. They stand between your device and the target server and act as intermediaries. When you send requests, proxies receive them and forward them to the target server. The same happens to the server’s response. In the process, your real IP stays invisible to the sources you visit. Instead, a proxy’s IP is what websites see. You don’t contact the external network; you only connect to a proxy.

As IP carries a lot of data about you—for example, your location—and is itself a valuable piece for figuring out even more information, proxies are irreplaceable for maintaining security and anonymity as well as bypassing geo-based limitations. Different types of proxies fulfil those functions to varying degrees.

What are residential proxies?

Residential proxies are IPs of real devices, such as home computers or notebooks. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) assign those addresses. Such IPs are tied to a particular location and provider. The lease of residential IPs, e.g., the period of time a user utilises the same address, is relatively long and varies from several days to several months. It means that a user sticks to the same address even if they reconnect to the network. When a lease ends, an ISP assigns a user a new address.

Residential IPs are unique, e.g., not many, but only one household uses a single IP. That’s why websites rarely detect such proxies and let you scrape data, verify ads, or whatever without CAPTCHAs and blocks.

What are mobile proxies?

Mobile proxies are IPs assigned by cellular operators when you go online using mobile data. Usually, smartphones and tablets receive them. Note that if you connect to a Wi-Fi network via your mobile device, you use a residential network, not a mobile one. At the same time, you can use mobile data with computers and notebooks with the help of tools that can read SIM cards, such as a dongle.

A dongle looks like a USB stick that you have to plug into your device.

Mobile networks work differently from residential ones. As there are many more devices than IPs available, a lot of users—from dozens to hundreds—utilise the same IP simultaneously. Each time you connect to a network, you receive another IP. One more difference lies in the lease duration. Users stick to the same address for no longer than several hours, and then they get a new IP. It’s also highly likely to get a new IP when you move from the coverage area of a cellular tower to the area of another tower. It’s called a handover process, and it happens because each tower controls only a particular range of IPs. 

So, what do those differences between residential and mobile IPs mean to you?

Advantages of residential proxies

The upsides of residential proxies include:

  • Stable connection

Residential proxies rely on wired connections, thus providing you with a more stable connection. Sticking to the same IP for a prolonged period of time also means more stability.

  • A bigger pool of IPs

There are more residential IPs available than mobile. It provides you with broader options in terms of rotation and geographical diversity.

  • More stable sticky sessions 

Generally, it’s possible to have sticky mobile proxies. However, due to the longer lease time of residential addresses, it’s more likely that you will hold the same IP within a set period of time, especially if you want to stick to one address for more than 30 minutes.

Advantages of mobile proxies

Mobile proxies have their own strong points: 

  • The most secure and anonymous

As a lot of users use the same IP at once and a network often reassigns you a new address, it’s beyond hard to trace traffic back to you or to identify you. Residential proxies are secure and anonymous as well; however, in this regard, they lose to mobile proxies.

  • Speedy proxies

Mobile networks are designed to provide users with high-speed connections. This includes using optimised data routes and the latest technologies, like 4G and 5G. Thus, mobile proxies are fast.

However, it’s worth noting that, due to the fluidity of mobile proxies, they may be less reliable than residential proxies. When a system reassigns you a new address or a handover happens, you may experience connection issues. Also, mobile proxies are the most expensive option.

Which type of proxy is less likely to be banned?

There is a lot of controversial info about the topic. The truth is that a lot depends on what platforms you visit and what anti-detection systems they imply.

Web sources generally consider residential traffic more trustworthy than mobile. Residential IPs are unique, and they have established user patterns. Also, platforms often have to comply with local regulations and laws. Residential traffic is more likely to do it, as local providers also take such laws into consideration and users have already agreed to the terms while buying service from a provider. As a result, traffic looks genuine when you route it via residential proxies. As the majority of sites implement IP-based bot detection systems, when you route traffic via numerous residential IPs to websites, it looks like real user behaviour. This way, you successfully avoid being detected and banned.

Mobile proxies, due to their dynamic nature, have both pros and cons. As a lot of users share one IP, numerous requests originate from the same address. It may look like bot activity. Also, a user who had an IP before you may have done something fishy, like spamming. As a result, mobile IPs may be flagged as suspicious. You get those flagged IPs and face captchas or bans. On the other hand, platforms have become more accustomed to mobile users, and they differentiate between residential and mobile traffic. If a website detects suspicious activity and blocks this IP, all the users who use the address will be banned. That’s why websites are hesitant to do so, not wanting to block a lot of users, who may be potential customers, because of somebody who acts deceptive.

Also, there are platforms targeted at mobile users. If you use residential proxies, you may alter their anti-bot systems. 

That’s why it may be hard to give a definite answer as to whether mobile or residential proxies are the hardest to detect and ban. You should consider your particular use case and tasks to make the right choice for each situation. Anyway, it’s necessary to choose a reliable provider like DataImpulse, which offers you ethically-sourced whitelisted proxies. The provider’s reputation also plays a part in your being able to use proxies without getting unnecessary attention from anti-detection systems.

For your convenience, here is a comparison table of residential and mobile proxies. 

Characteristics / Types of proxies  Mobile Residential
Speed Faster Fast
Reliability Reliable More reliable
Security More secure Secure
Anonymity More anonymous Anonymous
Detection Hard to detect Hard to detect
Price More expensive Expensive 

Residential and mobile proxies: what to use

As both types of proxies provide you with severe advantages, it may be hard to decide which one to use. So, your choice of proxies starts with defining your needs and targets. There are use cases when either residential or mobile proxies suit better, as well as overlapping use cases.

Use cases for residential proxies

Residential proxies are necessary when you need to look like an ordinary user to platforms and websites you visit. Also, they are indispensable when you need a broad pool of IPs at hand. You should consider using residential proxies for:

  • search engine optimisation
  • sneakers and ticket reselling

To complete those tasks, you need to avoid seeming suspicious to websites and platforms. Unique residential IPs are the best choice for that.

Use cases for mobile proxies

That type of proxy is what you need if you deal with:

  • mobile app development
  • mobile network testing
  • mobile services testing

Such proxies fit with every mobile-related task. They help you create a real-like environment for your apps or network.

Overlapping use cases

There are a lot of use cases when both residential and mobile proxies are widely used. For example:

  • web scraping
  • ad verification
  • price comparison
  • market research
  • brand protection
  • web testing
  • social media management
  • geo-targeting

The final choice depends on the specificity of your situation. If you need to scrape mobile-targeted platforms, verify mobile ads, test mobile versions of a website, gather data about mobile users, or compare prices within mobile services, mobile proxies are the best option. Also, they usually provide more precise geo-targeting, as an operator assigns you an IP based on your location at the moment of connection.

If your activities are web-based, for example, general web scraping or ad monitoring, residential proxies suit you better. If you need to track residential users or test web versions of a website, residential proxies are also the best bet.

In terms of geo-targeting, residential proxies aren’t that precise; however, they usually cover larger areas and give you a better idea of your customers in terms of demographics. If you need such data, that type of proxy is preferable.

What can you do with DataImpulse?

You don’t have to look for different providers, as DataImpulse offers you both residential and mobile proxies, all legally sourced. You can manage your proxy servers, track proxy usage, and replenish your balance all from your DataImpulse account.

Other advantages you experience with us:

  • IPs from 194 countries
  • support HTTPS/SOCKS5 protocols
  • no extra charges for features like country targeting
  • residential proxies at a fair price of $1 per 1 GB
  • mobile proxies for $2 per 1GB
  • 3G/4G/5G/LTE mobile proxies on hand
  • 24/7 human support

Final word

Both residential and mobile proxies help you get what’s essential for your success: accurate data. Those two types of proxies have their bright sides; however, they aren’t interchangeable. Residential proxies help you mimic real-user traffic and offer you more IPs available, while mobile proxies provide you with speed and security. Often, you need to have both residential and mobile proxies within easy reach. At DataImpulse, you can get residential as well as mobile proxies without paying for a subscription in advance, as we operate on a pay-as-you-go pricing model. Click on the “Try now” button in the top-right corner of the screen or contact our support team at [email protected] to start.