Apple vs. Android
An Android mascot is seen in front of a displayed logo of Apple in this photo illustration taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, May 5, 2015. Reuters/Dado Ruvic

Android is developing a lead over iPhones in terms of smartphone reliability, according to “The State of Mobile Device Performance and health: Q1 2017” study done by data security firm Blancco.

The study measures the reliability of a device based on the failure rate, referring to the excessive performance issues with the device, which could not be resolved. Blancco claims that the data used in the study has been “collected from millions of iOS and Android mobile devices that were brought into mobile carriers and device manufacturers for diagnostics testing in North America, Europe and Asia during the first quarter of 2017”. Using the failure rate as a yardstick, the survey found that the overall failure rate of Android devices stood at 50 percent for the first fiscal quarter of 2017, while iOS’ failure rate for the same period stood at 68 percent. Both rates had increased in comparison with the previous quarter — Android stood at 47 percent in the previous quarter, while iOS stood 62 percent in Q4 2016.

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The study also found that apps crash almost 3 times more on iPhones than Android devices — in test simulations, iPhones crashed 28 percent of the time, while Android devices crashed 10 percent of the time. Both devices had different causes of malfunctions — while unstable GPS connection and overheating was the leading cause of iPhone malfunction, Android devices faced malfunctions either due to weak carrier signal or camera malfunctions.

Among iPhone models, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus reported the highest failure rate — iPhone 7’s failure rate increased to 10 percent in Q1 2017 from three percent in Q4 2016. The reason for this increase could be Apple’s software updates iOS 10.3 and iOS 10.3, which caused many users’ devices to shut down or freeze. The issues were sorted with Apple’s iOS 10.3.2 update.

Among Android devices, the Samsung Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge and Galaxy S5 reported the highest failure rates.

The fact that both devices had been premium flagships and high-sellers in the market makes the findings peculiar. The high volumes of these devices sold could also affect the high failure rate, the study says. But, the fact remains that smartphone makers are yet to figure out a strategy that works for a smooth software update cycle.

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Even though flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7 are launched after extensive testing, the smartphone companies need to constantly issue software updates for such devices post launch to take care of vulnerabilities and bugs, which have surfaced since. Also, they need to port software features to devices. So, in a few months post the launch, the software looks way different than it was at launch and there is no way for a smartphone manufacturer to figure out in advance whether it would be compatible with the device it put out in the market — the cycle of updates and accommodating them properly with the device still needs to be figured out.