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Android 10 still most popular (in Zim too,) even as Android 12 is rolling out

Zimbabwe, like all of Africa, is Android country. Just over 85% of the mobile devices in the country run Google’s Android operating system. That is no surprise, Android is great. It is also helped by the fact that there are many options, at every single price point. Whatever your budget, there is an Android phone for you. You’ve got $30? No problem. Want to spend $1800 on a foldable? Android’s got you.

The problem with this is that you cannot expect much in terms of after sales support for most of the budget options. It’s unreasonable to expect a manufacturer to provide a major software update for a $30 phone. The situation is not much better even at the $200 range. To be honest, even at the flagship level, Android lags way behind iOS by a huge margin when it comes to software updates.

The latest and greatest in terms of Android versions is Android 12 which was released in early October 2021. Being an annual release schedule, it means Android 11 was released in 2020 and Android 10 in 2019. 

Most used Android version 

Google used to release information on the most popular versions quarterly but stopped in 2018. They recently surprised us and released that information and here is how it’s looking:

Android Version% Running this version
11 (R)24.2%
10 (Q)26.5%
9 (Pie)18.2%
8 (Oreo)13.7%
7 (Nougat)6.3%
6 (Marshmallow)5.1%
5 (Lollipop)3.9%
4.4 (Kit Kat)1.4%
4.0 (Jelly Bean)0.6%

Android 12 is nowhere to be found as yet. When this data was released it was only a month after release and it appears that this data was collected just a week after Android 12’s release. However, even if we grant that and consider 11 as the latest, it remains that it’s on only 24.2% of devices. That’s not enough to unseat 10, which remains the most popular by a small margin.

Look at Jelly Bean, still holding on. I love that.

On to Zimbabwe

The way Google collected the data above would not produce the most accurate results for Zimbabwean users. I imagine it’s the same for most of Africa too. They look at the number of devices that accessed the Play Store during a 7 day period. A good number of Zimbabweans do not visit the Play Store, like ever. Their smartphones only ever get a WhatsApp bundle and so there will be no Play Store access even in the background.

Now if WhatsApp were to tell us the distribution of Android versions accessing their servers, that would be close to what’s on the ground in Zimbabwe.

So, to see what’s going on in Zimbabwe in November 2021, we look at the data collected by GS Stat Counter.

Android Version % Running this version
11 (R) 7.34%
10 (Q) 21.89%
9 (Pie) 21.4%
8 (Oreo) 20.71%
7 (Nougat) 4.72%
6 (Marshmallow) 9.02%
5 (Lollipop) 5.84%
4.4 (Kit Kat) 4.92%
Other4.16%

Not too bad I must say. Over two thirds running Oreo and later versions is acceptable I would say. Local developers must be encouraged by such revelations.

GS Stat Counter analyses the traffic to over 2 million websites it tracks to produce this data. Of course, for phones stuck on WhatsApp only there is not much that can be done.

Security patches

Android has changed over the years to the point where it’s not as much of a big deal that most phones are not running the latest software version. Security patches are now separate from the main feature updates. This means Android phones may have the latest security patches, which protect against vulnerabilities despite not running the latest Android version.

In my case, at the moment I’m stuck on Android 10 which was released in 2019, darn you LG for abandoning us. However, the latest security patch on my phone was released on 1 June 2021. That’s not perfect but at least in terms of security I’m not too far behind.

I wonder which Android versions ya’ll are running. Hopefully not Jelly Bean.


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24 thoughts on “Android 10 still most popular (in Zim too,) even as Android 12 is rolling out

  1. I’m impressed! Maybe it was my sweet tooth bias, but I was honestly expecting to see Kit Kat at at least 20%! Good job China! Well, this month Nokia finally started a phased Android 11 rollout for my Covid Buddy. Its the final upgrade so it will be bitter sweet when that notification finally hits

    1. I think most of us did expect to see Kit Kat and Lollipop still king in Zimbabwe, alas the Itels and Tecnos have helped in this regard.
      As regards waiting for the last update for your phone, I’m in the same boat. Android 11 will be the last one for mine. But ain’t it ridiculous how 12 is already rolling out on the latest Galaxies and here we are waiting for our 11 updates. For my next Android, it’s going to have to be either a Galaxy or Pixel.

      1. 😂 True enough! I was so frustrated at how the update kept being pushed back while seeing 11 and 12 being rolled out to other devices! At least this way, my phone got an unofficial support extension, nowhere near the new pixel levels though!

        1. These guys are bringing the Zimbabwean experience to Android. I hate having to think, ‘ well it’s better than nothing.’ But I do think it and crazy thing is I’m one of the lucky ones even getting official updates but 2 years waiting for an update is nuts.

  2. Thanks for the great article,I’m running on Android 9 as well as another device on Android 9.Im surprised that most people seem to be running on at least above 8

    1. That bit really was surprising. We really should thank these super cheap new phones from brands like Itel. If not for that, we would all hold on to our flagships from brands like Samsung a little longer despite them reaching the end of their software support.

  3. It’s just difficult for the ordinary man to keep up with Android. I think we got to buy Pixels if we want faster updates. I myself is running android 7😅 with an option for upgrading to 8 but damn i just hate Oreo.

    1. Some have made the point that the yearly update schedule is overkill. Majority aren’t even getting them. I don’t know. Maybe it’s better if a flavour is kept for two years whilst being updated of course. Like how it was with 8.0 and 8.1 except that those two versions would be a year apart. The big deal is when we move from 11 to 12 for example, it can be overwhelming for people.

      1. Maybe they should follow in Windows footsteps and maybe hold android 12 for a few years before releasing an upgrade. Tbh, the differences have been subtle over the years

  4. Most people are using Androud 10 because they are no longer changing phones like they used to as for myself i am happy with my Huawei P20 pro its a great phone with great battery life, great screen and every tiny bits.
    Android phones have gone aheas of technology that using a 2018 or a 2021 phone you will see little difference. So why change a good phone for a few upgrade.

    1. I agree. That is a huge factor. There just isn’t enough progress year to year to warrant getting a new phone. The 2018 flagships, whose support ended with Android 10, are still good enough in 2021.

    1. That’s the thing. If your phone still works good enough, you are less inclined to upgrade just to get the sweet Material You. The latest phone models aren’t leaps and bounds better than the 4 year old flagships.

    1. 😂😂😂 It should be a crime to still use Jelly Bean in 2021. If you were still rocking 4.1 you wouldn’t have been able to post that comment.

  5. Another point is with each version the hardware requirements go up… Maybe better just to not upgrade plus all those bugs…I personally have moved to Android 11 from 10 and noticed a battery issue
    … On the surface there’s not much difference between the two… Probably would have kept 10

  6. Upgrading to a newer version is good, but sometimes it tends to stretch the hardware of the gadget as in most cases the hardware is not designed for the new upgrade.

  7. Software upgrades aren’t really essential or necessary when it comes to Android coz you can easily tweak your old Android 6.0 phone & pimp it with many Android 11 goodies by simply rooting your device.

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