Android users love old, mostly Samsung phones

New data finds the most popular Android devices in the US are more senior than new and shiny -- and still mostly Samsung.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Expertise Solar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects. CNET's "Living off the Grid" series. https://www.cnet.com/feature/home/energy-and-utilities/living-off-the-grid/ Credentials
  • Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Eric Mack
2 min read

This 2-year-old Samsung phone is still king of the Androids. Josh Miller/CNET

Based on all the hype and sales numbers, you might presume that the world of Android users is dominated by folks with a flashy Samsung Galaxy S5 or Galaxy S4 in their hands. The truth seems to be that the public is much slower to upgrade to the latest and greatest phones.

There are over 3,500 unique types of devices running Google's Android mobile operating system in the United States, but the most popular model -- used by over 13 percent of American Android users when all the major carrier models are counted, according to data from HandsetDetection.com -- is the Samsung Galaxy S3, which was released two years ago. The next most popular device is the even older Motorola Droid Razr with 5 percent of users, according to the site, followed by the Samsung Galaxy S2 with nearly 5 percent.

In fact, the most "modern" smartphone to make HandsetDetection.com's top ten list of Android devices currently in use in the Samsung Galaxy Note II, with 1.5 percent of American users.

Alternate Android app store AppBrain also keeps track of what devices its users are connecting with, and also finds the Galaxy S3 to be the most popular model, but by a much smaller margin over the Galaxy S4, which comes in second.

The disparity between the two data sources may come in the fact that AppBrain doesn't break down numbers by country, or because the type of Android fan who knows enough to install an alternate app store is much more likely to be an early adopter. According to HandsetDetection.com, its data was collected in May from unique visitors meeting a "minimum usage threshold."

Perhaps this shouldn't be too surprising, given how often I talk to a friend, family member, or acquaintance who is thrilled to inform me that they've finally got "a phone with apps on it." Just recently, I was told by the significant other of a good friend that the reason he didn't respond to half my texts is because his ancient feature phone -- that continues to function with the help of a taut rubber band -- isn't capable of receiving group texts.

I understand we can't all have the latest gadget, but by now I would have thought group texts had been enshrined as a globally-recognized human right. If you support this cause (and your phone supports Twitter), tweet what model of phone you use to @crave using the hashtag #upgrades4all, and perhaps some philanthropic billionaire will take up the cause of upgrading humanity.

Updated at 9:15 p.m. to add details on data collected by HandsetDetection.com.