It is nothing new, actually: Android lags far behind Apple's operating system iOS in terms of updates. Apple recently published new figures about just how up-to-date iPhones are, with the statistics probably exceeding even the boldest expectations.
The problem of Android fragmentation is as old as Google's operating system itself. Manufacturers that rely on Android for their smartphones usually have plenty of customizations to do of their own. This, in turn, means that major updates such as moving from Android 12 to Android 13, cannot be adopted for old phones without making major adjustments.
In addition, such product maintenance is very time-consuming and thus expensive for the manufacturers. Therefore, it is not uncommon for some manufacturers to stop supporting older devices. NextPit reported about the update policies of Samsung, Xiaomi, and others a few times prior.
Unfortunately, Google hardly publishes figures about the exact Android distribution, with the most recent one being April this year. This indicated that the relative share of Android 13 installations more than doubled from 5% to around 12% between January and April. Over 70% of all Android smartphones are still running on Android versions that are a few years old. For example, Android 10 is the common operating system on more than 18% of all active Android smartphones.
Such fragmentation isn't just a problem for consumers. After all, they don't receive so many features (and sometimes important security updates) that are now available in the latest OS versions. It's also a challenge for many app developers, who have to adapt their programs to these realities.
iPhones are much more up-to-date
It's a different story for Apple, which not only offers software support for iPhones that are up to 5 years old — the smartphones are also updated much more consistently by their owners. According to new, official figures, 90% of all devices launched in the last four years use the latest iOS 16 operating system. If you were to take all active iOS devices into consideration, the figure is still extremely high at 81%.
Apple is definitely pulling away from the Android competition at this point, leaving the latter in the dust.
What about you? Which operating system version do you currently use on your smartphone? Did you also have an annoying (or great) experience with software updates? Tell us about it in the comments!