The Android operating system is often compared to Microsoft Windows because of how ubiquitous it is. While Windows continues to dominate on the desktop, Android has been dominating on smartphones for years. At Google I/O 2017, Google announced that Android was installed on over 2 billion devices. That’s a staggering number to consider, and it’s a testament to just how successful Google’s business model with Android has been. Most of us are familiar with Android devices from large brands like Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, LG, Sony, Oppo, OnePlus, Motorola, and more, but there are actually a ton of devices from manufacturers you’ve never heard of. Just how many? There are a little over 16,000 Google Play Certified devices, and even that number likely vastly underrepresents the true number of Android devices that have ever been made!
That figure, by the way, is current as of today, April 17th, 2018. How do I know that? I looked it up on the Google Play Developer Console’s Device Catalog page for the XDA One-Handed Mode App. This webpage allows developers to choose which Android devices they don’t want installing their app, mainly for compatibility reasons.
If you’re curious what devices are on this list, there’s a public list of Google Play Certified devices available from Google. It catalogs all of the Google Play Certified devices—also called Google Mobile Services (GMS) certified or Certified Android—so you can easily see if your device meets the requirements for Google’s Android Compatibility Test Suite (CTS). This list is massive and is a good way to tell if a device you are buying will provide an Android experience that is somewhat consistent with other devices (though that isn’t always guaranteed).
Since this list of Google Play Certified devices only contains those devices made by OEMs that have signed up for GMS and paid a fee to Google, it obviously doesn’t list every single Android device in existence. In fact, it likely highly underrepresents how many Android devices are out there! According to a report from Open Signal, there were 24,000 Android devices in 2015.
Although we don’t have any updated figures for the number of unique Android devices in the wild, it’s likely that the number is much, much larger than it was in 2015. Keep in mind that around the time that this figure was released by OpenSignal, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 was just announced. Since then, Samsung has released the Samsung Galaxy S7, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, the (now-defunct) Samsung Galaxy Note 7 which was replaced by the Samsung Galaxy Note FE, the Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy S8+, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Samsung Galaxy S9, and Samsung Galaxy S9+. And that’s just listing their flagship lineup!
I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the number of Android devices out there has doubled since 2015, especially with how many new devices Chinese manufacturers are pumping out every month. As Android continues to grow in markets like India, there’s plenty of incentive for OEMs to keep making a bunch of budget Android devices, further inflating the number of total devices. The more competition, the merrier!