Targeting Android devices based on OS version


When developing a new mobile application, you may wonder what minimum API level should be supported so you can reach the widest possible audience.

You’ll also have questions relating to screen size and common performance of the devices you hope to reach.

So, how does all this stand in 2018? Where can you find these answers?

Look no further.

Data Source(s)

The following sections of this post combine statistical data which originates from the goMobi platform.

goMobi powers thousands of websites that are optimized for mobile devices. They are spread around many countries across the world and experience a wide variety of visitors from all over the world.

All device data are based on information coming from the DeviceAtlas device database; standardized device names, year released, CPU details or screen dimensions. The DeviceAtlas API can run look-ups on the HTTP headers, the Make/Model strings coming from the Android SDK or the IMEI/TAC numbers.

Highlights

  • Use API 14 (Ice Cream Sandwich) for global audience.
  • Tablets remain in use longer than mobile phones.
  • North America (presumably USA and Canada) is the fastest in “recycling” devices.
  • At least four CPU cores are standard across all continents.
  • 16:9 is the most common screen aspect ratio.

Contents

Please note that because of the source of data, ie. coming from the web-based platform, the data might differ in some aspects from data collected by an app only based platform. For example, gaming applications might see a higher tablet user base, etc.

SDK Versions and Distribution

Let’s begin with the minimum API level supported.

The table below breaks down the traffic per continent and counts traffic not for individual API levels, but merged with the upper “newer” levels for better illustration of the coverage if a given API level was set as minSdkVersion.

API Level Name OS Version H1 2018 H2 2017 H1 2017
API 26+ Oreo 8.0 or newer 2.4% 0.0% 0.0%
API 24+ Nougat 7.0 or newer 29.4% 15.3% 3.3%
API 23+ Marshmallow 6.0 or newer 54.1% 47.1% 32.6%
API 21+ Lollipop 5.0 or newer 79% 79% 66.3%
API 19+ KitKat 4.4 or newer 92.3% 93.1% 87.7%
API 16+ JellyBean 4.1 or newer 98% 98.2% 96.8%
API 14+ IceCream Sandwich 4.0 or newer 98.5% 98.9% 97.8%
API Level Name OS Version H1 2018 H2 2017 H1 2017
API 26+ Oreo 8.0 or newer 4.4% 0.2% 0.0%
API 24+ Nougat 7.0 or newer 34.7% 17.9% 5.1%
API 23+ Marshmallow 6.0 or newer 61.8% 49.8% 37.9%
API 21+ Lollipop 5.0 or newer 88.0% 82.7% 75.1%
API 19+ KitKat 4.4 or newer 95.5% 94.2% 91.3%
API 16+ JellyBean 4.1 or newer 98.9% 98.4% 97.9%
API 14+ IceCream Sandwich 4.0 or newer 99.4% 99.1% 98.7%
API Level Name OS Version H1 2018 H2 2017 H1 2017
API 26+ Oreo 8.0 or newer 9.4% 0.5% 0.0%
API 24+ Nougat 7.0 or newer 57.1% 37.8% 11.1%
API 23+ Marshmallow 6.0 or newer 77.3% 69.0% 57.9%
API 21+ Lollipop 5.0 or newer 91.7% 87.2% 81.2%
API 19+ KitKat 4.4 or newer 97.0% 95.3% 92.8%
API 16+ JellyBean 4.1 or newer 99.2% 98.7% 97.7%
API 14+ IceCream Sandwich 4.0 or newer 99.5% 99.2% 98.8%
API Level Name OS Version H1 2018 H2 2017 H1 2017
API 26+ Oreo 8.0 or newer 14.5% 1.3% 0.0%
API 24+ Nougat 7.0 or newer 70.5% 54.8% 19.3%
API 23+ Marshmallow 6.0 or newer 87.1% 80.8% 70.1%
API 21+ Lollipop 5.0 or newer 95.9% 93.4% 89.8%
API 19+ KitKat 4.4 or newer 98.7% 97.9% 97.1%
API 16+ JellyBean 4.1 or newer 99.6% 99.0% 98.7%
API 14+ IceCream Sandwich 4.0 or newer 99.9% 99.5% 99.5%
API Level Name OS Version H1 2018 H2 2017 H1 2017
API 26+ Oreo 8.0 or newer 1.6% 0.0% 0.0%
API 24+ Nougat 7.0 or newer 23.7% 9.7% 1.5%
API 23+ Marshmallow 6.0 or newer 53.7% 42.4% 27.2%
API 21+ Lollipop 5.0 or newer 79.6% 73.4% 63.2%
API 19+ KitKat 4.4 or newer 93.2% 89.7% 84.7%
API 16+ JellyBean 4.1 or newer 98.6% 96.3% 93.6%
API 14+ IceCream Sandwich 4.0 or newer 99.0% 97.8% 96.3%
API Level Name OS Version H1 2018 H2 2017 H1 2017
API 26+ Oreo 8.0 or newer 14.5% 1.0% 0.0%
API 24+ Nougat 7.0 or newer 63.2% 47.1% 15.1%
API 23+ Marshmallow 6.0 or newer 82.8% 76.3% 67.3%
API 21+ Lollipop 5.0 or newer 96.3% 93.1% 89.3%
API 19+ KitKat 4.4 or newer 98.8% 97.5% 96.2%
API 16+ JellyBean 4.1 or newer 99.8% 99.6% 99.3%
API 14+ IceCream Sandwich 4.0 or newer 99.9% 99.8% 99.6%


North America and Oceania seem to be fastest in adopting the latest OS versions. If starting a project now, with an estimated couple of months development, set the minimum SDK version to at least the API 19 (KitKat), though it would be safer to use API 16 (Jelly Bean).

For a broader audience and for Africa or South America, use API 14 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

Top 10 Devices with Older Android

The percentages below represents only relative (not overall) traffic per a given SDK code name.

Device Name Device Type Variants H1 2018
Samsung Galaxy Grand Mobile Phone 9 1.5%
Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo Mobile Phone 3 2.2%
Samsung Galaxy Note Tablet 10 1.9%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Mobile Phone 14 8.5%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 Mobile Phone 2 1.4%
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mobile Phone 18 7.2%
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini Mobile Phone 3 3.0%
Samsung Galaxy S4 Mobile Phone 17 2.6%
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite 7.0 WiFi Tablet 1 1.8%
Samsung Galaxy Trend Plus Mobile Phone 3 2.3%
Device Name Device Type Variants H1 2018
Amazon Kindle Fire HD Tablet 1 27.1%
Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9 Tablet 1 14.2%
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mobile Phone 7 9.9%
Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet 1 9.6%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos Mobile Phone 4 4.5%
Samsung Galaxy Nexus Mobile Phone 1 1.9%
Barnes and Noble Nook HD+ Tablet 1 1.8%
Samsung Galaxy Trend Mobile Phone 1 1.4%
Barnes and Noble Nook HD Tablet 1 1.2%
Samsung Galaxy S2 Mobile Phone 8 1.2%
Device Name Device Type Variants H1 2018
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Tablet 5 29.2%
Motorola Xoom Tablet 3 13.5%
Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 Tablet 4 10.0%
Toshiba Thrive Tablet 1 9.5%
Acer Picasso Tablet 1 7.2%
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus Tablet 1 5.2%
Sony Tablet S Tablet 1 3.0%
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1N Tablet 1 2.7%
Kenxinda K1 Mobile Phone 1 2.0%
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Tablet 2 1.7%
Device Name Device Type Variants H1 2018
Samsung Galaxy Ace Mobile Phone 12 14.6%
Samsung Galaxy Y Mobile Phone 7 10.3%
Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet 1 6.4%
Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 Mobile Phone 3 3.7%
LG Optimus L3 Mobile Phone 5 3.6%
Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus Mobile Phone 3 3.3%
Samsung Galaxy Y Duos Mobile Phone 2 2.8%
Samsung Galaxy S2 Mobile Phone 11 2.4%
HTC Merge Mobile Phone 1 2.2%
Casio C771 Mobile Phone 1 2.1%

Jelly Bean

All Jelly Bean top positions clearly belong to Samsung Galaxy devices. It’s worth mentioning that there were more than 2,300 unique device models within the same traffic bracket, quite a nice number of devices for an older Android version.

Ice Cream Sandwich

What devices can you expect in that small proportion of 2018 traffic still using Ice Cream Sandwich or older? The answer is quite interesting – it’s mostly Amazon Kindle Fire tablets (one half of the traffic bracket!) followed by the Samsung Galaxy phones.

Honeycomb

So many tablets for Honeycomb! Looking at the data, it seems that the tablets stay active longer. The reasoning here goes that there is no “need” to replace tablets as often as the mobile phones for multiple reasons.

Gingerbread

Still many active devices here, though when you compare device types with Honeycomb it’s the exact opposite. It’s a mix of Samsung Galaxy devices, Amazon Kindle Fire and LG/HTC/Casio mobile phones.

Year Released (Device Age)

Device age data are always relative against a given traffic year and are calculated based on the “Year Released”, hence the range. For example, devices with year released as 2017 can be “Brand new” for 2017 traffic, but a year old for 2018 traffic.

Year Released Device Age H1 2018 H2 2017 H1 2017
2017 0-1 years old 19.2% 9.2% 1.0%
2016 1-2 years old 30.0% 31.6% 25.1%
2015 2-3 years old 26.8% 34.3% 37.4%
2014 3-4 years old 13.3% 15.2% 20.4%
2013 4-5 years old 6.7% 6.6% 10.5%
2012 5-6 years old 2.0% 1.9% 3.5%
Year Released Device Age H1 2018 H2 2017 H1 2017
2017 0-1 years old 23.1% 9.8% 1.0%
2016 1-2 years old 37.0% 36.6% 27.6%
2015 2-3 years old 23.6% 31.9% 41.1%
2014 3-4 years old 8.6% 12.6% 17.1%
2013 4-5 years old 4.2% 6.1% 8.7%
2012 5-6 years old 1.4% 2.1% 3.1%
Year Released Device Age H1 2018 H2 2017 H1 2017
2017 0-1 years old 25.7% 11.6% 1.4%
2016 1-2 years old 31.5% 31.6% 24.2%
2015 2-3 years old 23.3% 30.1% 36.2%
2014 3-4 years old 12.1% 17.3% 23.9%
2013 4-5 years old 4.6% 6.6% 9.8%
2012 5-6 years old 1.2% 2.0% 3.2%
Year Released Device Age H1 2018 H2 2017 H1 2017
2017 0-1 years old 37.7% 19.6% 2.1%
2016 1-2 years old 31.3% 37.7% 37.1%
2015 2-3 years old 16.0% 23.2% 32.0%
2014 3-4 years old 8.5% 13.0% 19.4%
2013 4-5 years old 3.5% 4.7% 6.8%
2012 5-6 years old 0.7% 1.2% 2.0%
Year Released Device Age H1 2018 H2 2017 H1 2017
2017 0-1 years old 13.1% 4.0% 0.2%
2016 1-2 years old 33.7% 26.6% 15.7%
2015 2-3 years old 29.9% 36.9% 38.8%
2014 3-4 years old 14.9% 18.5% 22.9%
2013 4-5 years old 5.8% 9.4% 14.4%
2012 5-6 years old 1.5% 2.6% 4.6%
Year Released Device Age H1 2018 H2 2017 H1 2017
2017 0-1 years old 30.5% 15.4% 1.9%
2016 1-2 years old 33.6% 36.2% 32.4%
2015 2-3 years old 17.2% 24.2% 30.3%
2014 3-4 years old 12.2% 17.7% 24.4%
2013 4-5 years old 2.9% 4.9% 8.4%
2012 5-6 years old 0.7% 1.4% 2.2%


As seen in the SDK Versions section, North America (particularly USA and Canada) are most likely to upgrade their devices and buy new ones, followed by Oceania and Europe.

The other side of the scale belongs to South America, where devices are kept for the longest time.

Available CPU Cores

Data below represents overall number of cores available for a device, regardless of the architecture used – meaning it doesn’t distinguish between big.LITTLE, “Tri-Cluster” (e.g. MT6797 SoC) or future, way more flexible, DynamIQ architecture.

CPU Cores Arch. variants 2018 H1 2017 H2 2017 H1
8 8, 2+6, 4+4 35.8% 34.9% 31.3%
4 4, 2+2 50.3% 50.7% 47.7%
2 2 10.6% 12.1% 16.4%
1 1 2.7% 1.8% 3.9%
CPU Cores Arch. variants 2018 H1 2017 H2 2017 H1
8 8, 2+6, 4+4 44.5% 39.1% 35.9%
4 4, 2+2 47.6% 51.8% 52.4%
2 2 3.5% 5.1% 7.1%
1 1 1.2% 1.3% 2.1%
CPU Cores Arch. variants 2018 H1 2017 H2 2017 H1
8 8, 2+6, 4+4 52.8% 44.5% 36.1%
4 4, 2+2 42.3% 49.0% 55.2%
2 2 2.8% 4.3% 6.7%
1 1 0.4% 0.6% 0.8%
CPU Cores Arch. variants 2018 H1 2017 H2 2017 H1
8 8, 2+6, 4+4 48.2% 36.9% 26.9%
4 4, 2+2 48.7% 58.2% 66.6%
2 2 2.0% 3.1% 4.5%
1 1 0.1% 0.2% 0.3%
CPU Cores Arch. variants 2018 H1 2017 H2 2017 H1
8 8, 2+6, 4+4 33.1% 28.8% 21.8%
4 4, 2+2 56.1% 57.5% 58.4%
2 2 8.4% 10.9% 16.5%
1 1 1.9% 2.3% 3.0%
CPU Cores Arch. variants 2018 H1 2017 H2 2017 H1
8 8, 2+6, 4+4 54.4% 44.5% 35.5%
4 4, 2+2 43.3% 51.8% 59.2%
2 2 1.4% 2.6% 3.8%
1 1 0.1% 0.2% 0.4%


At least four CPU cores are standard across all continents, and in the coming years you can expect more and more devices moving even further, from four to eight cores.

The question is, how many of those eight (or more) cores are going to be big and how many LITTLE ?

Screen Size (Aspect Ratio)

All the screen sizes were normalized to have horizontal orientation only, as this makes illustration easier and allows for a wider grouping. Along with the actual screen size (in pixels) there is corresponding aspect ratio, too.

Screen Size Aspect Ratio 2018 H1 2017 H1 2017 H1
720×1280 16:9 (HD) 30.3% 33.5% 29.6%
800×1280 16:10 2.2% 2.2% 2.6%
1080×1920 16:9 (Full HD) 18.6% 17.5% 15.4%
1440×2560 16:9 (QHD) 10.8% 11.8% 13.2%
1440×2960 18.5:9 (WQHD+) 4.3% 2.0% 0.2%
480×800 5:3 12.1% 10.8% 15.0%
480×854 16:9 (FWVGA) 7.1% 8.1% 8.1%
540×960 16:9 (qHD) 7.2% 8.1% 6.7%
Screen Size Aspect Ratio 2018 H1 2017 H1 2017 H1
720×1280 16:9 (HD) 35.9% 34.1% 34.6%
800×1280 16:10 0.9% 1.0% 1.4%
1080×1920 16:9 (Full HD) 25.0% 24.3% 23.3%
1440×2560 16:9 (QHD) 7.3% 10.1% 11.1%
1440×2960 18.5:9 (WQHD+) 3.6% 2.0% 0.2%
480×800 5:3 6.1% 8.2% 8.8%
480×854 16:9 (FWVGA) 5.1% 6.2% 6.6%
540×960 16:9 (qHD) 10.4% 10.2% 9.8%
Screen Size Aspect Ratio 2018 H1 2017 H1 2017 H1
720×1280 16:9 (HD) 26.9% 27.6% 26.8%
800×1280 16:10 2.7% 3.1% 4.3%
1080×1920 16:9 (Full HD) 27.5% 27.4% 24.8%
1440×2560 16:9 (QHD) 19.5% 21.7% 23.4%
1440×2960 18.5:9 (WQHD+) 8.4% 3.8% 0.4%
480×800 5:3 2.7% 4.0% 5.3%
480×854 16:9 (FWVGA) 2.0% 2.6% 3.2%
540×960 16:9 (qHD) 3.3% 4.4% 5.8%
Screen Size Aspect Ratio 2018 H1 2017 H1 2017 H1
720×1280 16:9 (HD) 18.9% 18.6% 17.9%
800×1280 16:10 2.9% 3.2% 3.6%
1080×1920 16:9 (Full HD) 15.5% 16.7% 17.7%
1440×2560 16:9 (QHD) 30.4% 38.3% 43.8%
1440×2960 18.5:9 (WQHD+) 20.9% 10.8% 1.2%
480×800 5:3 1.6% 2.5% 3.6%
480×854 16:9 (FWVGA) 3.1% 3.4% 4.5%
540×960 16:9 (qHD) 1.7% 2.5% 4.0%
Screen Size Aspect Ratio 2018 H1 2017 H1 2017 H1
720×1280 16:9 (HD) 37.0% 36.5% 34.9%
800×1280 16:10 2.4% 2.9% 4.5%
1080×1920 16:9 (Full HD) 15.7% 15.8% 14.4%
1440×2560 16:9 (QHD) 5.1% 6.8% 6.2%
1440×2960 18.5:9 (WQHD+) 2.3% 1.1%
480×800 5:3 11.9% 12.7% 14.5%
480×854 16:9 (FWVGA) 8.2% 7.6% 8.2%
540×960 16:9 (qHD) 12.1% 11.6% 11.5%
Screen Size Aspect Ratio 2018 H1 2017 H1 2017 H1
720×1280 16:9 (HD) 13.9% 12.1% 11.5%
800×1280 16:10 2.1% 2.4% 2.2%
1080×1920 16:9 (Full HD) 22.1% 25.6% 28.3%
1440×2560 16:9 (QHD) 27.6% 34.9% 40.8%
1440×2960 18.5:9 (WQHD+) 20.7% 10.4% 1.2%
480×800 5:3 3.2% 4.2% 5.0%
480×854 16:9 (FWVGA) 2.1% 2.2% 2.8%
540×960 16:9 (qHD) 1.7% 2.3% 2.9%


We can see more varieties in screen sizes than number of CPU cores, that’s for sure.

There are many screen variants, though some of them share the same aspect ratio of 16:9, with the exception of the steady rise of 18.5:9 (2960 x 1440) and lingering proportion of older 5:3 (800 x 480) in Africa and South America, which nicely correlates with the Year Released section.

It’s worth noting that the devices with higher resolution, like 2960 x 1440, might not have this resolution set by default, and use 2220 x 1080 resolution for better battery life, instead allowing the user to change it in the settings.

Android Emulators

Last but not least – emulators.

If you are planning to develop a game, you should be aware that many people may try to game the game or to play using an emulator.

You can expect around 8% of non-mobile device traffic. Bluestack is one of the most popular, but there are many more Android emulators available.

Main Image By valanzola.t, via Flickr.

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