One of our neighbors down the hall bought a smartphone for the first time. Not an iPhone. Not even a Samsung Galaxy whatever. It was a no-name, off-brand something or other running Android Nougat from 2016.
The very next day she read about Android’s security problems and how hundreds of millions of smartphones never see upgrades, and never see security updates. So, she asked me how often iPhones are updated? I said, “Often. Multiple times each year. In fact, almost four out of five iPhones and iPads are running the latest version of iOS already.”
That was met with stunned silence, then disappointment over settling for the cheap and less secure choice, then a growing anger that her cellphone company said nothing about upgrades and security risks.
That little neighborly incident indicates a growing problem for Android-based smartphones that most customers do not understand, and it displays a huge advantage for iPhone and iPad customers. Apple gets upgrades to customers faster than Android. Most Android smartphones are running versions from two, three, four, and even five years ago, and most of those phones– the previously noted few hundred million– have never seen an upgrade let alone a security update.
Over the last decade of smartphone growth, Apple manages to get the latest iOS version onto about 90-percent of all iPhones and iPads by the time a new iOS is launched in late summer or early autumn. Compare that to Android Oreo from summer of 2017, now installed on almost 2-percent of all Android smartphones. All those cute Android OS names belie a single fact. Old operating system versions are the norm on most smartphones.
You gotta love the names, though.
Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitTak, Lollipop, Marshmallow, Nougat, and Oreo. This year’s Android is code named Android P. I’ll let you figure out what that means. It won’t be on most Android smart phone for about four years.
Most Android smartphone customers don’t know about the security risks of using an old version, and their phones probably wouldn’t run Android P anyway.
Meanwhile, Apple continues to sell iPhones that were launched three years ago as new iPhones New? They all run the latest, iOS 11.x. An iPhone 5s, launched in late summer 2013, almost five years ago, still runs the latest iOS. That means iPhone 5s actually has improved and enhanced features every year since launch. Except for the battery, of course.
My neighbor took her Android-whatever back to the carrier and upgraded to an iPhone 8. That should last for another five years.