Smartphone Reliability: iOS Outpaces Android

A new report shows that when it comes to smartphone reliability, Apple devices have an edge over Android systems.

Paul Heltzel

August 23, 2018

3 Min Read
Person holding phone

Although Android smartphones outsell Apple in the United States, they lag behind iOS devices for smartphone reliability, according to a report by security and data erasure firm Blancco Technology Group.

“Android phones still dominate the market with over 60% penetration, yet they demonstrated higher failure rates than their iOS counterparts,” according to the report.

The company reported that of the devices they have received from carriers and manufacturers for erasure, about 20 percent were using Android versions from 2013 or earlier, before encryption of data was a standard feature of the OS.

“Although it makes sense that many of the devices currently coming into processing centers would be at least a year or two old,” the report said, “it’s interesting that such a volume of these devices haven’t been updated by their users in quite some time.”

The report found that the majority of iOS devices in their mobile processing centers are running the latest operating system.

“[This] speaks to the update challenges devices running on the Android platform may face,” according to the report. “While there are many different brands of devices running Android software, Apple owns its OS. Apple keeps providing updates as regularly as possible, and it phases out legacy versions so that none linger behind.”                 

Cody Swann, CEO of software firm Gunner Technology, said he isn’t surprise that Android devices are lagging behind in OS updates and overall smartphone reliability.

“iOS is a much more tightly controlled environment with far fewer configuration and device combinations,” said Swann, whose company develops Javascript-based mobile apps. “The better comparison would be the Google Pixel versus the iPhone. The Pixel obviously runs on Android, while the iPhone runs on iOS, but I don't think you'd find a reliability gap between those two devices."

As for Apple, the company found that the iPhone 6 was the least reliable of the phones still being sold by the company. “For the fifth successive quarter, the Apple iPhone 6 and 6S demonstrated the highest failure rates of all iOS devices,” the report said. “To meet customer expectations, these models may require additional attention before they are processed and resold.”

The report also found that among iPhone users, Bluetooth is the most frequent issue bothering customers, “with Wi-Fi and headset issues following close behind.”

“Bluetooth is a vexing problem because it deals with peripherals,” Swann said. “This adds another element to troubleshoot that is outside the scope of the devices themselves.”

Among Android models, Samsung phones were among the most disappointing performers, the company found.

“Samsung devices haven’t been doing well in our diagnostics tests for some time,” according to the report. “In our Q1 2017 Mobile Performance report, we noted that ‘...various Samsung smartphone models once again appeared on the list of top 10 Android devices with the highest failure rates.’ In Q1 2018, the numbers again pointed to Samsung models having the highest failure rates, with about 27 percent showing performance issues.”

Android phones examined in the report also had a surprisingly high rate of camera problems.

“In Q1 2017, 3 percent of Android devices that came through retail stores using the Blancco Diagnostics platform worldwide were identified as having camera issues,” the report said. “One year later, this number has increased to nearly 14 percent. That’s bad news for consumers, who increasingly rely on their smartphone cameras to capture their daily lives through selfies, videos and fun photography. It’s also negative news for mobile processors, who need to be aware that these issues are common.”    


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Paul Heltzel

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