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Android vs. iOS Users: How Do They Behave Differently?

Smartphones are becoming small extensions of us and send messages about who we are to those around us. Our phones are now an integral part of our lives and we’re more mobile than ever. One of the most recent US Mobile App Reports from comScore indicates that:

  • We now spend 50% of our digital media time in smartphone apps

  • Time spent in mobile apps absolutely dominates over mobile web

  • We most often only access 20 or fewer apps in a month, but we position them on our screens in a way that makes them easily accessible


And what’s even more interesting is the fact that our choice of smartphone and mobile platform can speak volumes about our behavior, habits, and even personality.


But first, the basics

Let’s begin by covering some basics on the mobile operating system market. Android and iOS devices combined make up over 97% of the mobile OS market share. And as of August 2017, Android takes up almost almost two thirds (64%) of those!

Because of its broad price range and a lower entry-level price point, Android has the largest global share in lower income areas and developing nations. It holds an advantage over Apple in emerging markets such as Asia and Africa.


Apple, however, dominates the profit share despite Google’s global dominance of market share because the average iOS user is more active that the average Android user.

They offer different capabilities

There are several core differences between Android and iOS that affect user experience at its foundation and the choices we make when we engage with either of them.


Apple is incredibly strict when it comes to app submissions, push notifications, rules and timelines, and they push operating system updates to users to ensure consistent experience for them.


On another hand, Android apps and app listings can be updated without a human review. They are also fragmented across various phone manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, HTC and Motorola, which gives a customizable experience to the end user.

Now, both of these scenarios come with benefits and disadvantages, and if you ask the users of either iOS or Android, they will tell you it’s exactly what they want. Apple users are usually loyal to the consistent experience across all their devices and any updates that come along, while Android users vouch for the freedom and customizability their devices provide. This just goes to show that, while all smartphones are similar in their core purpose, each user sees their own smartphone in a unique way.


The differences in core demographics


As mentioned earlier, Android currently has the largest global platform share, with a particular prominence in lower income areas and developing nations. Comparatively, iOS users typically have higher income, higher education levels, more engagement, and spend more per app. Of course, that doesn’t mean that those who have those same characteristics won’t own an Android device. Instead, this data is simply indicative of the general Android population.

Men are slightly more likely to be iOS users than women. Android seems to be the most common platform among all age groups, but its edge over iOS was a bit smaller in the 65+ age bracket.

While the age and gender differences of users between platforms probably aren’t significant enough to influence a platform decision for an app, income and location definitely shouldn’t be neglected. As you’ll see below, this can impact actions like in-app purchases and paid subscriptions, which plays a huge role for a business model that relies on such behavior!

On the other side of the spectrum, Android users seem to be late adopters and they are less likely to backup their computer. They prefer a full-featured device at the expense of its appearance, and they are more likely to use Yahoo Mail as opposed to owning an email domain associated with work or their website.

Push notifications behavior

It’s fascinating to see that even actions like reacting to push notifications vary so much between Android and iOS users. This will help you benchmark your open rates better based on the device your user is on!

About 3.5% of Android users open push notifications, while just under 1.8% iOS users open them. One of the reasons for this discrepancy may be the fact that push notifications on Android stay visible on the lock screen until the user actions on them. On an iPhone, they disappear after the first screen unlock.

There’s a chance that this exact difference in features causes iOS users to open push notifications quicker. It only takes an average of 7 minutes for an iOS user to respond to a push notification, compared to 48 minutes for Android user. This may indicate a higher quality of interaction when it comes to Apple users.

Acquisition, in-app engagement and retention

Liftoff released an interesting set of data that covers the cost necessary to acquire a mobile user who subscribes to a paid service, as well as the post-install engagement activity.

This data is segmented based on whether the app main goal was registration, reservation, purchase, in-app purchase, or a subscription.

When it comes to user engagement after installing the app, iOS outperforms Android in all the mentioned categories, except for the registrations, where Android has a narrow advantage.


Now that you've learned a bit about the demographics of users on each operating system you now have some knowledge as to what to expect from users on either platforms.


Let us know below if you have any questions or comments or if you'd like us to dive deep into discussion about any particular topic.

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