Should I Buy an Android Smartphone? Cons: Fragmentation
It seems as though nothing is ever simple when it comes to Android. And once again, the diversity of the platform — fragmentation as it’s known in more negative terms — can significantly narrow the number of apps an Android user actually can run.
The first part of fragmentation is the operating system. Apple says that 78% of iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners are running iOS7, its latest mobile operating system.
In comparison, a mere 1.8% of Android smartphone owners are running KitKat, the latest version from Google. Even the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Android hit of 2013, hasn’t received a KitKat upgrade yet. Only 8.9% are running the previous major release, version 4.3 of Jelly Bean. 35% are running version 4.1 of Jelly Bean (an OS released in 2012) and 20% are still using Android Gingerbread — a four-year-old operating system.
Then there’s display size and resolution. For the iPhone, there are very few combinations to support (3.5-inch or 4-inch and Retina or non-Retina). When it comes to Android smartphones, there are almost unlimited combinations to test. Samsung alone offers Android smartphones in 22 different sizes and there are eight display resolutions that could be used including qHD, HD, Full HD and WQXGA.
In other words, between the OS version, display resolution and whether your Android smartphone supports certain hardware standards like NFC and Bluetooth Low Energy, you may only be able to run a small fraction of those 950,000 Android apps. This fact can make life frustrating for Android smartphone owners.