This is the iPhone vs Android secret Google doesn’t want you to know

It doesn’t get much more heated than iOS vs Android, but the world’s biggest mobile debate could soon be a redundant one if current adoption trends continue.

Recently released statistics from Apple reveal that an impressive 72% of iOS devices sold since 2014 are running iOS 12, while a further 21% are on iOS 11. Combined, that makes for 93% of iPhones and iPads (and iPod Touches, if you must) that are using an Apple mobile OS designed in the last two years.

By way of contrast, Android distribution figures from October 2018 show that a worrying amount of devices are still on ageing versions of Google’s mobile OS.

The most prevalent version of Android is 2016’s Android Nougat, which (taking versions 7.0 and and 7.1 together) is running on over 28% of devices, followed by last year’s Android Oreo releases (8.0 and 8.1) at roughly 21%. This year’s Android Pie doesn’t even register in the stats.

Worryingly, though, 2015’s positively ancient Android 6.0 Marshmallow is still running on around 21% of devices, while the even older Android Lollipop from 2014 is on approximately 18% – the Apple equivalents are iOS 9 and iOS 8, to put into context how long-in-the-tooth these operating systems are.

The pie chart below further illustrates the severity of the problem.

Related: Best Android phones



Android fragmentation has always been an issue  but it’s one that many industry onlookers (including myself) thought would improve over time. On the contrary, it seems to be as problematic as ever, so while it’s all well and good defending Android’s open source merits and unique features over the idiot-proof usability of iOS, the question seems increasingly null when hardly any Android devices actually run recent software.

The latest and greatest Google functionality, therefore, isn’t available to huge swathes of Android users – and this is the crux of the problem with Android fragmentation.

It also slightly tempers excitement around next year’s big Samsung releases, the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy X, which will likely run the newly revealed Snapdragon 855 chipset from Qualcomm.

These are both going to be great – and in the case of the Galaxy X, very possibly revolutionary – phones with heaps of power and the latest specs, but the Android issue will almost certainly persist. They’ll ship with this year’s (by then, last year’s) Android Pie, and stay stuck on it for who knows how long.

The iPhone 11, by way of contrast, is virtually guaranteed to come with the newest version of iOS – barring a radical rebrand by Apple, this will be iOS 13.

Framing the eternal iPhone vs Android debate in this light, it’s hard not to feel there’s a clear winner and it resides in Cupertino, not Mountain View.

Does Android fragmentation bother you? Let us know @TrustedReviews.