Google’s developer dashboard is perhaps the best indicator of Android fragmentation as it directly relates to its mobile operating system. An equally as important metric that often goes overlooked is just how many different devices make up the Android community.
An eye-opening report from OpenSignal found that there are at least 24,093 distinct Android devices in the wild. That’s up from 18,796 unique devices last year and a huge increase from the 3,997 Android devices in circulation in 2012.
As OpenSignal brand strategist Samuel Johnston notes, the complexity is both good and bad.
One of the perks, Johnston highlights, is that if you can imagine your dream phone, there’s a pretty good chance that someone, somewhere will have probably built it. Conversely, a huge pool of devices to choose from means the apps you install may not be optimized for your device’s screen size or features.
OpenSignal said it has also observed other trends over the past several years that were too broad to include under the fragmentation umbrella such as screen size, NFC prevalence and increases in CPU core count and included RAM.
Johnston singles out NFC prevalence as one interesting trend. The chart above shows the rapid adoption of NFC in Android devices between 2012 and 2013 before leveling off over subsequent years. The reason for this, he notes, is that the technology was expected to be revolutionary but it ultimately never took off.