This year could be a wild ride for quality assurance pros who want to predict which phones will be vital to test client apps. Smartphone shipments plummeted in 2022. The industry saw its largest-ever decline in year-to-year shipments, falling 11.3%. That trend is expected to continue in 2023. Despite a gloomy forecast, the smartphone industry does have a few bright spots that could impact the devices tested in the quality assurance industry.
Each year, we offer our expertise to help you decide which phones are most important to include in your device library. Our iOS guide, released in January 2023, talked about the blistering hot iPhone 14 lineup and the importance of testing the new smartphones in the U.S. market. Android smartphones are a bit harder to predict because there are dozens of iterations released each year. By evaluating trends and tapping into our experience testing Android smartphones, we can offer insight into which Android devices and operating systems you need to test in 2023.
Android: Market Share
Android is the world’s most popular mobile operating system, accounting for 72% of the world market share. The Google ecosystem runs phones for Samsung, Google, OnePlus, Sony, Motorola, and other companies that want to test the market. The problem with Android is that most users don’t update to the latest versions. That can be a problem for our industry.
Android: Adoption Rates
Android 13 launched in August 2022, yet by late January only 5% of users had updated their smartphones. It’s surprising, because Android 14 includes privacy, performance, and security updates. Users have recently upgraded to Android 12 and L. The most popular version is Android 11, which runs nearly a quarter of all Android smartphones. Android 11 came preloaded on Samsung’s popular Galaxy A21 lineup. Many of those smartphone users likely never spent the 30 minutes it takes to update.
You can see in the graphic below that many Android users still use the old Pie (2018) and Oreo (2017) versions – both are more prevalent than Android 13. With Android 14 coming out later this year, these numbers are expected to change again. It’s a reminder that while technology advances in the fast lane, many of your client’s users may prefer the scenic route. You will have to account for them. Make sure you save shelf space for some older smartphones and operating systems.
Android: Popular Apps
Google Play is a crowded space. There are more than 2.5 million apps available to download today. At the top are Tik Tok and Instagram, but several games, such as “Coin Master” and “Candy Crush Saga” pull in tens of millions of dollars each month. Not all apps are that popular. In fact, one in five apps is abandoned after just one use. The apps that survive the first day often aren’t around after 30 days. News apps are easily the category leaders in user retention, remaining on 11.3% of phones one month after the first download. Other categories are not as lucky. Our client does not have a lot of room for error. One glitch, one blurry image, one slow-loading screen – all are reasons for users to delete an app. Thorough testing will ensure your client’s app is an Android smartphone survivor.
Android: Best Phones to Test
Samsung is the clear market leader for Android smartphones. The South Korea company accounts for a quarter of the U.S. smartphone market and dominates our list of recommended Android smartphones. However, there are a few other Android-powered brands to consider for your library.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Despite a weak smartphone market, Samsung may have a hit on their hands with the Galaxy S23 Ultra. ZDNet ranked it as their best overall phone. It’s powerful and packed with innovative tech tools – even director Ridley Scott loves the phone. He shot a four-minute film as part of Samsung’s marketing push. Quality doesn’t always translate to purchases, but analysts are optimistic Samsung will see a surge in 2023 – and the S23 Ultra will lead the turnaround.
Image Credit: Samsung.com
Samsung Galaxy S23 & S23+
Samsung’s entire S23 lineup is fueling optimism. Preorders in India set sales records. Executives point to the suped-up core and advanced camera as the reason behind the excitement. Digital Trends praises the advancements S23 made over the S22 and even ranked it higher than the iPhone 14 in a head-to-head comparison. All Samsung smartphones will face a challenge this year when Verizon and AT&T stop offering promotional rates for Samsung smartphone buyers. Still, the S23 and S23+ should see solid sales after their mid-February release because they are Samsung’s flagship smartphones – and will generate massive interest.
Image Credit: Samsung.com
Samsung Galaxy S22 Series
Even with the Galaxy S23 lineup hitting the market in early 2023, the Galaxy S22 series remains a major player in the Android market. The S22 base model is now priced at an attractive $699. The S22+ and S22 Ultra did not see a discount — which should grab your attention. It indicates those smartphones are selling well enough they don’t need a discount – and Samsung expects their popularity to remain even after the S23 lineup arrives.
Image Credit: Samsung.com
Samsung Galaxy A53
The Galaxy A53 is an incredible value at just $400 – half of what you’ll pay for the Galaxy S23. How good can it be? TechRadar named it the second best smartphone behind the iPhone 14 Pro because of the features you get for the price, which is critical as families have cut back on spending. Of course, some people will hold out for the A54 after rumors surfaced of a new camera and battery.
Image Credit: techhhh.xyz
Samsung Galaxy A14
If $400 is too much for consumers, they’re in luck. The Galaxy A14 is just $199 – and Samsung has promised to keep supporting the phone for another four years. The A14’s price makes it popular in Europe. A reviewer for Wired called the affordable phone “phenomenal.” And it may be popular with the analog crowd because it features something more expensive phones do not: a headphone jack.
Image Credit: https://phonesstorekenya.com/
Google Pixel 7 & 7 Pro
Pixel phones are hot right now. Yes, Google phones only make up 2% of the global market, but Google only has one phone brand – and customers are buying them at an unprecedented (for Pixel) rate. Google doesn’t share sales data, but CEO Sundar Pichai said during the most recent sales call the latest series is its best-selling ever. As Phone Arena points out, we don’t know the numbers, but any positive growth is a good sign when just about every other Android-based smartphone saw a decline.
Image Credit: fono.lk
Android: Other Phones to Consider
Motorola still controls about 5% of the world smartphone market. The problem is, the company sells an army of smartphones – not just one like the Pixel. The Moto G lineup is its most popular. The G Play is affordable but not recommended by Wired.
Image Credit: phonetechx.com
Google Pixel 6A
Pixel continues to be a hot phone, especially after the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro hit the market in October. However, don’t count out the 6a just yet. It came out last July and holds its own against the 7. Plus – the 6a now comes with a massive discount.
Image Credit: backmarket.com
OnePlus 11 5G
Image Credit: onlytech.com
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 & Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
Samsung’s Z Flip and Fold 4 smartphones are well-reviewed and starting to grab the attention of smartphone shoppers. Shipments doubled year-to-year in Q3 2022. When the next generation arrives later this year, a newly designed crease could attract more buyers who shied away from the earlier designs.
Image Credit: Samsung.com
Consumers are proving to be a touch unpredictable in early 2023. Sales are sluggish, but analysts say people are willing to pay a premium for innovative smartphones. That’s good news for Apple, Samsung, and Google, which are finding innovative ways to become more ubiquitous in our lives.
As phones get more complex, the needs of people remain the same. Older smartphone users want greater battery life and storage space. Younger generations who have relied on the cloud for most of their lives care more about functionality.
You can’t do much to help your clients to power a smartphone. You can make sure the app they offer is functional. In our iOS app testing guide, we recommended testing functionality two generations back. That may not be enough with Android smartphones. Samsung supports their smartphones up to five generations back and many Android users have not updated their software version in years. Proper quality assurance testing for Android smartphones in 2023 will require a large device library.
We have more than 400 mobile devices in our library with multiple software versions. We’re able to emulate bugs and issues that can provoke smartphone users into deleting an app. We have the devices and the experience to make your app perform flawlessly before and after your launch.
If you need help testing your Google Play app, please reach out to us.