Friday, 13 January 2017 12:56

Apteligent's 2016 mobile phone year in review Featured


Samsung models occupy all the top 10 Android smartphones in use, but strong take-up of Google’s Pixel and XL, and Sony’s Xperia XZ threaten to challenge its dominance in 2017, according to Apteligent, a predictive app intelligence company.

In its 2016 Mobile Year in Review,  it makes some interesting observations about both Android and iOS models.

Apteligent monitors the use of tens of thousands of mobile apps. Its “adoption rate” is based on global app loads and network data, which means it is based on actual usage of the operating system and device. Any difference in numbers reported by other analysts (e.g. IDC or Gartner) is the difference between methodologies – sell-in versus Apteligent’s adoption real use rate.

According to Apteligent, 2017 will be an even more interesting year where Apple, Samsung and some of the major Chinese makers all can act as game changers.


Android data is based on 2500 unique active models running versions from Jelly Bean 4.x to Nougat 7.x – the latter has still has less than 1% activation. Marshmallow 6.x has grown from zero to nearly 50% over that time. Overall Android has about 90% market share.

Samsung models take the top 10 Android positions. The Galaxy S5 has first place with 6.12% and the GS6 is next at 5.44%. The GS7 and Edge have an almost equal combined usage of 8.8%. The table below either indicates that people are holding onto Samsung phones longer or buying earlier flagship models at lower cost. The crash rate is an indicator of the number of apps that fail to load.

AP Sam

New phones coming onto the radar are interesting – Samsung’s Note7 (production stopped due to the risk of fire) totally dominated sales, peaking at over 35% and around 5% were still in use in December before carriers restricted its use on networks.

But more interesting is the data without the Note7 included as it illustrates what people were buying after the recall. The standout performer is Sony’s XZ (iTWire review here) and it is an impressive device gaining about 15% of use. It is followed by the Google Pixel and XL (combined about 12% – iTWire review here) and the Moto Z and its MotoMods (around 5% – iTWire review here).

AP1 Sony


Unlike Android’s 2500 unique models, iOS has only 29, with 52.4% of users on iPhone 6/6S/Plus and 5S. iPhone 7 and Plus combined have about 10%. These were only launched in September so next year’s report will show if they have killer sales. LTE-equipped iPad Air and Air 2 rate in the top 10 but the smaller iPhone SE released in March 2016 has not made the top 10 due to low sales volumes. It has about 3.1%.

Overall iOS has about a 10% adoption rate which is consistent with what other analysts report.


iPhone 7/Plus sales appear to be mainly coming from iPhone 6 and 5S users wanting to update – that is in line with the typical two-year upgrade pattern. Not unexpectedly nearly 85% of users are on iOS 10.x, 15% on iOS 9.x and negligible earlier versions.

Apteligent conclusions

  • Flagship Android device launches with the highest adoption rates this holiday season have been the Sony Xperia XZ, the Google Pixel, and the Google Pixel XL. Samsung’s brand is still incredibly strong but the Note7 recall encouraged flagship buyers to look elsewhere.
  • The residual Samsung Note7 use is still higher than the LG V20, OnePlus 3T, and the HTC 10 combined.
  • The iPhone 7 was adopted at lower rates than the iPhone 6; however, the iPhone 7 Plus was adopted faster than the iPhone 6 Plus reflecting the growing demand for phablets


This year will be an interesting one. First Samsung will release its Galaxy S8 (GS8) and it is strongly rumoured that there will be only a 5.5” Edge (5.5”) and a 5.8” Edge+Stylus (the Note name is likely to be retired). It will not be known for a couple of months but all indications are Samsung is putting significantly more effort into the new handsets and working to reassure customers of its safety competence to counter the Note7 issue.

While Google’s Pixel and XL are especially good, as is the Sony Xperia XZ, and innovative Moto Z, I can’t see these getting into the top 10 Android places if the GS8 is as good as is expected. Of all the brands, Moto (Lenovo owned) with its magnetic snap on mods has the potential to challenge but it means a significant extra commitment from Lenovo, and I have yet to see evidence of that.

Chinese makers will continue to grow and dominate certain markets and it will be a very close race between Huawei and OPPO/Vivo. This fight is not so much about the product (these both play in the price/performance driven mid-upper-range, typical glass slab market) but about distribution in countries like India, Malaysia and, of course, China. I like both Huawei P9/Mate 9 and OPPO R9/Plus but the smart money is on Huawei outspending and outgunning all challengers.

Apple will celebrate the 10th year of iPhone in September and it is rumoured to be pulling out all stops to ensure the next iPhone (may even be called iPhone 10 to commemorate) is epoch-making. Sure, there will be iOS 11 (where I expect more innovation), an A11 10 nm FinFET chip (made by TSMC), it may have an OLED screen (ironically supplied by Samsung Display Division), it may have wireless charging, it may have no home button (that could mean it finally has acceptable screen to body ratios), and it may have a dual camera. It will not have a 3.5mm audio port, microSD support and a removable battery. It is unlikely that Apple will adopt USB-C instead of its Lightning port. Whatever happens it is clear the low volume SE will be dropped in favour of three versions - a 4.7”, 5” and 5.5 (or larger 5.8”). All we really know is that Apple does not comment!


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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