Google has no new Android fragmentation chart, so what? Updates have never been faster...

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

Google again hasn't updated its Android version distribution numbers for a while - about six montsh, to be exact - sending the tech blogosphere in a tizzy. It, gasp, does this for a second time in a row. 

Back in the spring, there was a brouhaha that instead of the monthly version distribution charts, there was nothing posted for five months, then on May 7 Google updated it, and it is still waiting to be refreshed six months later.

This brought on a frenzy of speculation that Google doesn't want to give Apple fodder for its iPhone introduction keynotes to gloat over, as has happened many times before. We don't blame Apple for trying to point out that iOS updates are quicker, hate the game not the player, as this chart from May, while better than last year, still doesn't sit pretty.


Alternatively, Google may have just switched to a bi-annual Android version numbers distribution reporting. Why? Because updates are now happening in a record fast manner, and Project Treble is finally giving fruit.

Ahead of I/O 2017, the Android household announced Project Treble. Touted as the biggest change to Android's system architecture ever, the undertaking separates the low-level code written by SoC manufacturers like Samsung and Qualcomm from the Android OS codebase. This is the very basic gist of it, and the result is that device makers can now deliver updates by updating only code relevant to the OS without further work needed from the silicon slingers.

While at the beginning not all phones' hardware and software was compatible with Treble, since last year the situation has changed, leading to this year's record fast Android version update sesh. Wait, what? That's right, and we will just leave a few examples to illustrate that Android's fragmentation may finally be on the way to become a non-issue a year or two down the road.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Android 10 update


Last year, Google released the final Android Pie version to manufacturers at the end of August, the 9 Pie beta was served to the US carrier models in November, and the actual Android 9 Pie came to Verizon, T-Mobile and other carrier models at the end of January/beginning of February. It was not an exceptional year in that regard, as we are used to Samsung's Galaxy S series carrier models getting the newest Android version as far out as six months after its release.

This year, however, Android 10 was officially released on September 3 for supported Google Pixel and some other devices. On October 14, the Android 10 beta started rolling to T-Mobile's Galaxy S10 models already, and you'd likely be able to ring in the new year with a carrier S10 model that boast the newest version of Android, something that hasn't happened since, well, ever. Ditto for European or unlocked models.


Huawei P30 series Android 10 update


The world's second-largest phone maker already has its flagship P30 Pro from the spring being updated to Android 10 as we speak, and to the latest version of its Emotion interface. Yep, two months after Google released it, again an update speed with barely a precedent for the maker.

Other top-tier Android makers like the Chinese trifecta of OnePlus, Oppo and Vivo have also updated or started the preview process of their flagship Android 10 builds, and LG said it is following suit with Android 10 on its G8 or V50 juggernauts. Google is certainly proud of this achievement, as it clearly states with the following chart.


All in all, we are seeing an unprecedented speed in everyone getting their popular phones up to the newest Android version this year, and Google may have simply concluded that this will be the future going forward, so monthly updates of the version distribution charts will be becoming less relevant than before, what do you think?

Is Android's version fragmentation finally coming to an end?

Pretty much
26.68%
Nah, update speeds should be even faster
73.32%

Related phones

Galaxy S10
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  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, Octa-core, 2840 MHz
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29 Comments

1. hmd74

Posts: 542; Member since: Jan 31, 2013

It's not about how fast phones get the updates, it's about the number of major updates. So my 1000$ Note 10 came with Android 9 and it's only getting 10 and 11!

7. RevolutionA

Posts: 474; Member since: Sep 30, 2017

Why to cry baby, just buy an iPhone with the same money. You'll understand it's worth

9. rkoforever90

Posts: 475; Member since: Dec 03, 2011

basically a 2019 smartphone launched with a 2018 software. Samsung fanboys will be here soon to defend that by stating they don't need any updates as their phones are super smooth.

11. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1109; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

but it's not that "basic" seeing as the majority of 2019 Smartphones released before the "2019" software

17. SaRPeR

Posts: 152; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Better than having a 2019 phone with 2014 features.

2. dimas

Posts: 3419; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

I never really get this fragmentation issue. I've owned phones from xperia, nokia, lg and s7 to s10, never did i have those super laggy experience even though i didn't get the fastest update. Even lg g4 was buttery smooth except for the bootlooping issue I had. Maybe it's just a blown-out topic because apple users get faster updates than android? I've been saying for years, I don't mind getting late to the major update party as long as the current system is stable. Quality over quantity.

10. kplayon

Posts: 63; Member since: Mar 02, 2018

Trust me, these guys are a bunch of nerds who's excitement in life is about waiting for updates. Ask a normal person if they have android marshmallow, and they'll look at you like you're crazy.

19. andrewc31394

Posts: 302; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

i think you're forgetting one of the main reasons people are upset is because security updates are never timely, if at all with some OEM's

24. MrMalignance

Posts: 325; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

I agree, especially when they have to jump through carrier hoops as well

3. jellmoo

Posts: 2660; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Say what you want about Apple (and there's lots to say), one thing they get absolutely right is software updates. They keep their devices updated in a timely manner, and the devices get 5 years worth of software updates. Android fragmentation will always be a thing so long as Google lets manufacturers off the hook when it comes to giving timely updates, and does not dictate the number of updates they need to roll out. When a device like the Xperia XZ1 gets away with only rolling out a single Android version update, you know that something needs to be done to ensure consumers are getting value for their money.

16. Vancetastic

Posts: 1754; Member since: May 17, 2017

I don't know. We've had several iOS 13 updates, and they ain't right.

4. skyline88

Posts: 700; Member since: Jul 15, 2013

fragmentation or not, Android is still miles ahead of crappy iOS

5. toukale

Posts: 668; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

How does the clone be better than the original? Android is just a more open iOS clone, Google clone everything even down to the way updates and business model is set up. Everything in mobile is set up the way Apple envisioned it. Apple's influence is mobile is everywhere you look.

8. TBomb

Posts: 1662; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

....What?

18. SaRPeR

Posts: 152; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

It is the other way around. Apple copies features from Android.

21. wickedwilly

Posts: 743; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

Rubbish, every year Apple has a major update for IOS, every year the features added are almost all available to Android users already, every year these updates are buggy or worse brick phones. Same story with hardware. Apple is the slavish copier, has been for years.

23. MrMalignance

Posts: 325; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

I'm not saying that there isn't a lot of copying from both sides, but how is Android a clone of iOS? Doesn't a clone have to be created after the original? iOS didn't exist until 2 years after Google purchased the Android software

33. WieXXX

Posts: 25; Member since: Feb 03, 2019

No OS is better that the other. Each OS has advantages and disadvantages

6. tokuzumi

Posts: 1961; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

I would like to see OS updates make it to non-Pixel phones quicker, but Samsung has been sending out the security updates pretty regularly with my S9 over the last 18 months. Security updates are more important in my opinion.

12. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1109; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

I prefer quality updates over receiving 6 updates within 2 months of a phones release

13. riteshrkm

Posts: 164; Member since: Apr 15, 2015

What is the use of Lightening fast updates when Phone can't do a simple Multitasking. I repeat "MULTITASKING" not background refresh.

14. ZEUS.the.thunder.god

Posts: 1172; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

I've been using a OnePlus and though updates are super fast, I can't wait to go back to Samsung. For me the overall experience is more important than anything else including UI speed and faster updates. My overall experience with OnePlus feels like a downgrade despite being faster (by a millisecond) and getting faster updates.

15. monoke

Posts: 1197; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

I'm a 'if it ain't broke don't fix kinda guy'. My last 2 phones, I didn't bother to update, with the OS prompting me to. I just laugh when I see the whiners who always crying about updates. Lol.

20. TBomb

Posts: 1662; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

I don't think it will ever come to an end... but its getting to the point where it really doesn't matter anymore

22. Locked-n-Loaded

Posts: 62; Member since: Sep 13, 2019

The new fragmentation is now Android review outlets trying to slice phones into totally made up categories like "mid-range" "flagship". WTF even is that? That's fragmentation nonsense. Can we get a list of "low end" "mid range" phones?

25. vgking9699

Posts: 214; Member since: Mar 01, 2019

Well only 10% are even using android 9, while the largest percentage for a newish android version goes to android 8 at 27% but that still means that everyone else is still using even older android versions which means older phones So this just proves that majority of android users are just using old non flagship models or cheap budget models from years ago lol So for example, even though android started the trend of dark mode, that was with android 9 which is only 10% of users, so the other 80% of android users don’t even have dark mode lol While pretty much everyone or at least over 90% of iPhones have dark mode from iOS 13

28. MrMalignance

Posts: 325; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

They hit 90%? In October, only 50% of iPhones had iOS 13 running. They caught up quick

29. epdm2be

Posts: 827; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

Probably because the new versions suck. They added useless fluff and removed vital features. Where is that call-recording feature that was speculated to come? I wont update my Android 8 phone until I can record my calls again. F them!

34. cheetah2k

Posts: 2297; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

I love android, but for me, the updates I'm looking for are the security updates. Google should make this an app, downloadable from the Google Play Store so that everyone gets them on time, every time - rather than having to wait for manufacturers pushing major updates to incorporate the security patches.. Google, are you listening?

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