Jelly Bean on more than half of active Android devices, with Gingerbread following in second

by: Andrew GrushNovember 2, 2013

Galaxy S4 vs Moto X

While there’s a lot to love about Android, timely updates to new versions of the OS isn’t one of those things — at least for most users.

To be clear this isn’t really Google or even Android’s fault, but it’s just part of how an open OS works. Manufacturers and carriers are responsible for rolling out updates, and often enough the process is slow going or non-existent for all but the most popular high-end and mid-range Android devices.

While we still see many active pre-Jelly Bean devices out there, the good news is that number is starting to shrink.

In the wake of Android 4.4 KitKat’s official unveiling, Google has now updated the developer dashboard with the latest Android distribution numbers. Keep in mind that these numbers only apply to official Android devices (those with Google apps).

So what’s the verdict? While we still see many active pre-Jelly Bean devices out there, the good news is that number is starting to shrink. Jelly Bean now accounts for more than half of all Android devices, with 52.1% of all active Android devices running either Android 4.1, 4.2 or 4.3.

Not surprisingly, Gingerbread still hangs in as the second most actively used version of Android, representing 26.3% of Android devices. In third we have Ice Cream Sandwich hanging on with 19.8%, Froyo with 1.7% and Honeycomb barely hanging on with just .1%.


Do these numbers really matter?

We hear it all the time: Android fragmentation is everywhere! It’s true that Android will now have six versions (including KitKat) with active users, but is this really a bad thing? Yes and no.

Some folks really don’t care what version of Android is running on their device, as long as it can handle a few basic apps, check email, browse the web and check their favorite social networks. Remember that even Gingerbread is still compatible with a great deal of the Android apps you find on the Play Store. On top of this, with several ‘core’ Google apps making their way to the Play store as of late, the issue is probably even less significant than it was in the past.

It’s true that Android will now have six versions with active users, but is this really a bad thing? Yes and no.

What’s really the problem is the timely updating of devices that are aimed at more hardcore Android users. This means mid and high-range devices from brands like HTC, Samsung, Motorola, Sony and LG.

Many Android users don’t care if their low-end handset is running Android 4.1 or older, but those that paid top-dollar for a premium Android experience are going to obviously feel differently about the situation.

Will the update cycle get any better with Android KitKat? While history tells us no, the good news is that brands like HTC have really been stepping up their game recently. Even better, many manufacturers are already chiming in with some details about their KitKat plans. This includes HTC, Motorola, Sony and even Samsung.

What version of Android are you currently rocking? Does Android ‘fragmentation’ bother you or are you mostly happy with the version of Android you are currently running?

  • It bugs me a little because my phone can run 4.2 and 4.3 based on the spec requirements, but because it’s not popular, it’s not getting updated. Makes me a bit sad.

  • TechDevil

    As much as I would like to always have the latest version, I feel new Android versions aren’t always giving me what I want in the updates. For example, I enjoy Android with Samsung’s TouchWiz much better than vanilla Nexus (things like quick settings in notification panel, ability to take phone up to ear while texting and have it call the number for me, etc are things I adore about Samsung). Therefore, I am not going to cry if I don’t get the newest version, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it either.

    • ws24

      Those options would still be available because the os would pass through Samsung to get to u.

      • TechDevil

        I know, but I’m talking about vanilla Nexus. I don’t want a vanilla Nexus phone because they don’t give me the TouchWiz interface and features that I want. Especially with how Galaxy Nexus now is “outdated” according to Google, I definitely don’t want a Nexus phone. That means Google is just as bad as HTC, Samsung, Sony etc. at updating.

        • ws24

          Got u. I understand

  • geel

    Version does not matter. Stable work is more important.

    • adam evans

      I find as long as version is 4.x their is no comparability issues , apps can be modified to be backwards compatible but it’s work for not much gain !

    • TechDevil

      I partially support this. A lot of cool, new features may arrive with new versions, but yes, a stable OS is better than a buggy, experimental OS despite having fun new features.

      • Humaan

        Probably why i use fedora over ubuntu is that bleeding edge does not mean as buggy as unusable and i am able handle some issues which may not be true with everyone

  • Marcus

    Still rocking 4.2.2 on the Galaxy S4. Hopefully soon 4.3 whenever the big magenta rolls it out.

    • Tommy2shoes

      It’s out. Couple buddies already updated to 4.3 on big red. Try manual update.

      • TechDevil

        Even if your buddies get it, that doesn’t mean it’s universally available. I had a Galaxy S4 until I switched to Note 3 (a decision I do not regret :D), and it’s still sitting there with 4.2.2 and no new update available.

        • jc

          get omega rom for it. samsung is too slow rolling out updates. and they put a lot of bloatwares on it.

  • satsmine2k4

    “Do these numbers really matter?”
    Ans: Only to trolls… or WP and IOS fans…

  • RanRu

    My friend just recently got a prepaid phone for $70, no contract. I was surprised to see that it already came with 4.1.1.

    I don’t think fragmentation is an issue. It’s not like your phone is ever going to be any less useful than the day you bought it, and most popular app developers are already working hard toward backwards compatibility.

  • NeedName

    As long as Android devices last longer than 18 months Android will always be heavily fragmented. . . and 4.4 will do nothing to solve that issue.

    • AbbyZFresh

      Which is why we need contracts to be eradicated. They are a large problem on why people still have phones longer than 18 months.

      • Tanner Hoyt

        I don’t think contracts have much to do with it. Without contracts, people would be paying a lot more since the phones wouldn’t be subsidized. The average person is not going to pay $500+ for a phone every year.

      • NeedName

        Seriously? The N5 should last an easy 3 years. Mobile hardware today is as good as any laptop and I sure don’t change out laptops every 18 months, let alone every 3 years.

        The idea the smartphones need to be changed out frequently is antiquated. The hardware has caught up and is good enough to last several years.

        And FYI, the Nexus is primarily sold as an unlocked device. . . who wants to pay $350 every other year for a new device? Would rather sign a contract for the top of the line device for $200.

        • AbbyZFresh

          You may believe that. But Google and the other OEMs seem to think otherwise.

          • NeedName

            OH, I get they believe I should be buying a new phone every year LOL

            And that’s the sad reality of Android. It has become a trojan horse for the OEMs to push obsolescence faster.

            I can see 18 months support from end of sales, but 6 months from end of sales??? NO!

  • TSventon

    Jelly bean 4.2.2. Waiting for some Kitkat treat. :-)

    • geel

      Like Hatiko ;)

  • TSventon

    Jelly bean 4.2.2 on LG G2. Waiting for some Kitkat treat. :-)

  • Brian Shieh

    HTC, better release that KitKat update within 90 days! Can’t wait to see the changes

  • AbbyZFresh

    That just means more fragmentation now that KitKat is out.

  • Mathias Christensen

    I really really like following the progress of Android trough news sites like this and watching live events and trying out all of the new features. At the same time I really like the purist of Android straight from the source. That is why I bought the Galaxy Nexus…

  • asd

    Well done google for 4.4 but I think they should sort out the fragmentation problem by forcing manufacturing to create their phones with 4.4 and also they should force manufactures to update their phones to the latest OS (that are able to) but it has just been announced so lets see in a year time.

    • spade

      LOL.. I thought the same before, but now look what happened to GNexus…yeah, it still will get custom ROMs though.

      • NeedName

        yep, I don’t expect anything to change in the Android world as far as fragmentation goes. . . may even get worse.

        Google needs a one year release cycle with minimum of two upgrades from end of sales for all OEMs to stop fragmentation, and that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.

  • Jorge morales

    It really bugs me a lot. I have an s4 active and just because it’s a variant of a flagship(equally expensive and powerful with the same main hardware) I’ll have to wait more for the updates. My phone is not even running 4.3 I’m still in 4.2.2 and I decided to paid the money for the phone because I wanted a better experience. I really like my phone but it makes me kind of mad knowing that Samsung brag a lot about being the best Android manufacturer device and then do whatever they want with the updates. My variant of the phone is not even less expensive, it’s even with the normal s4 in performance with the difference that have a 8mp camera but is water resistant and dust prove. Why did I pay big money for my phone if they are not going to update my phone at the same time as the other devices. I think from now on I’ll buy Nexus devices or move to Apple if they stop doing that toy like phones and overrated devices.

    • AbbyZFresh

      Galaxy S4 Active is already on the list to get 4.4. along with the S4, and Note 3,

  • Dusan

    I wish you would use numbers instead of names. I have no clue what version Jelly Bean is.
    Just go with 4.3, 4.2, 4.1, it’s much easier.

  • Groud Frank

    My phone has 2 GB RAM, a quad core processor, a 6.1″ 720p display and a massive 4050 mAh battery. It came out this year and yet I am still stock on this version of Android.THANK YOU HUAWEI!

    I have decided to ONLY give my money to OEMs that are serious about updates. Oppo is looking pretty good right now!

    Huawei Ascend Mate 6.1
    JB 4.1.2

    • jay

      wait for oppo/ i think cyanogenmod is gonna work with them.

    • geel

      as I know, 4.2 update is avaliable for Mate.

  • Rishi

    To me, fragmentation bugs me a lot. Not because of the fact that the upcoming os might be bringing a slew of changes but because of the fact that the updates add to my experience. Atleast it shows, dat the oem cares abt the bucks i have spent. That’s why i went with a nexus. The regular updates add new lease of life to the device. Its even bizarre to understandthat the manufacturer of past two nexus devices, LG failed to get 4.3 aboard their flagship, the G2!

  • Thomas Vanderick

    I have a nexus 4. No probs on my end

  • nishantsirohi123

    I think as far as updates are concerned

    Sony and Samsung has had the best record
    they still support the Galaxy S2

  • Android 4.0

    I got the LG motion from MetroPCS and still got ice cream sandwich. I hate it. I hope i get android 4.4