The infamous Android versus iOS debate can get pretty intense. Both sides have avid fans that will seemingly defend their favorite mobile OS to the death. And one of the most popular subjects for the two sides to argue about are the numbers.

Numbers directly reflect the success of a product. That’s why companies share sales data and other things like revenue on quarterly earnings calls — to show their progress. So the big question is, what do the numbers say about Android and iOS?

It’s impossible to do head-to-head comparisons between Android and iOS because the platforms are so different, but we’ll try to look at this as fairly as possible. Keep in mind that we will just be discussing smartphones today.

Customer Demand

Just by looking at the results of the recent iPhone 4S launch, you can tell who wins this category. With customers piled up outside of Apple Stores and other retailers, the Cupertino company was able to sell over 4 million handsets during its opening weekend. That’s more than most Android-based phones sell during their entire lifespan.

We can go even deeper than that by looking at what the most popular phone is on each wireless carrier (US obviously). The only operators we can really judge are the ones that carry both Android and iOS handsets. In this case, that would be Verizon and AT&T (Sprint just recently started offering the iPhone).

Conaccord Genuity (an analytics company) recently published a report that revealed that the iPhone 4 has been the best selling smartphone on the top two US carriers for the last 6 months. Considering that both companies offer a number of Android handsets, this would suggest that the iPhone is generally more popular among consumers.

Market Share

Android wins this category hands down. While it’s hard to determine an exact number here, marketing research firms place Android’s smartphone market share between 40 and 55 percent. The iPhone, on the other hand, garners anywhere between 24 and 28 percent. But Jim Dalrymple from The Loop made a compelling argument earlier this year for why these numbers don’t really matter:

“There is no compelling argument that anyone can give that says that comparing an operating system to a hardware device makes sense. None… That would be like comparing one model of Mercedes against all cars that GM makes and saying that Mercedes is losing. It just doesn’t make any sense… There are currently six manufacturers — Dell, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorla, and Samsung — making 42 smartphones using the Android operating system.”

So market share is by far an unfair way to measure platform success, but for all intents and purposes, we’ll give this one to Android. If you’re blindly throwing 50 darts at a dart board and are up against someone throwing 5 darts at a dartboard, hopefully you’ll have more stick than your opponent.

Most Phones Shipped

As aforementioned, it doesn’t make sense to measure the number of iPhones shipped versus the number of 43 Android handsets shipped, so we’ll just talk about the leading contenders. Samsung has recently been making headlines by announcing that it has reached the 30 million mark with its Galaxy S smartphones. The line includes the Galaxy S and the new Galaxy S II, which are Samsung’s best sellers, and has been available since March of 2010. In comparison, Apple has sold over 37 million iPhones in its last two quarters (6 months) with its latest two smartphone models, the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4.

Another manufacturer to look at would be Motorola Mobility. With its popular Droid line and recent acquisition by Google, Motorola Mobility is certainly considered a top Android manufacturer. The most recent report I could find regarding smartphones shipped was for Q2 of this year, which ended in July. During the three month period, the company shipped 4.4 million smartphones. That number included multiple models including the Droid 2, the Droid 3, the Motorla Atrix, and several other carrier variations. The company has since introduced the Droid Bionic and the Motorola Razr, so it certainly has a bright future.

I couldn’t find any recent official statements from HTC regarding smartphone sales either, but I did come across a few reports that placed the company’s handset shipments this year in the neighborhood of 11 million units. That’s quite a bit more than Motorola Mobility, but keep in mind that HTC makes phones with both Android and Windows Phone 7 operating systems.

The bottom line here is that there isn’t a single Android manufacturer that can compete head-to-head with Apple in regards to most smartphones shipped, so I have to give this category to the iPhone.

Revenue From Smartphones

This, in my opinion, is the most important category for smartphone manufacturers. That’s why everyone is in this business right? To make money? So what better way to tell who’s winning than to see who is making the most money off of their products. Android is obviously just software, and Google doesn’t directly profit off of manufacturers using it, so once again we’ll have to compare iPhone revenue to that of the top Android handsets to even the playing field.

Last week Apple announced a record-breaking quarter for revenue, bringing in $28.27 billion dollars. If you figure that iPhone sales make up 50% of Apple’s revenue (and a lot of folks believe this to be the case), that’s roughly $14 billion dollars in revenue from, once again, just two smartphone models — the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4.

In comparison, Samsung’s total revenue (which comes from more than just smartphones) for the same quarter is thought to be just under $4 billion dollars.

The most recent revenue report I could find for Motorola Mobility was for the previous quarter which ended in July of this year. Over the three month period, the company brought in $3.3 billion dollars (this, once again, isn’t just from smartphone sales).

HTC came in at $4.4 billion dollars in revenue for the most recent quarter, which ended in October. That number includes tablet sales, and smartphone sales including both Windows Phone 7 and Android handsets.

Given this data (and mind you, it’s not dead on accurate considering some companies haven’t announced their earnings for this quarter yet), you could determine that the iPhone generates more money for Apple than the top three Android manufacturers make from their smartphone sales combined. Interesting.

In Conclusion

So as you can see, numbers tell a lot about a product’s success. And if we are looking strictly at the numbers (trying to be as least biased as possible), the iPhone is outperforming the competition. It clearly wins in customer demand (if you don’t believe me, show me the last time customers lined up around the world for an Android smartphone launch), it sells better than any single Android handset out there, and it generates more revenue than smartphones from the top three Android manufacturers do put together. The only category that the Android platform seems to be winning in is market share, which is a given, considering the vast amount of different models that are available.

Don’t get me wrong, Android handsets are cool gadgets, and they’re equipped with cutting-edge technology. NFC, LTE chipsets, 3D displays — they have it all. But what they don’t have is the average person’s attention, and the numbers reflect that. More consumers are choosing Apple’s iOS-based smartphone than any Android handset on the market. There’s no fanboyism here, just facts. Men lie, woman lie, numbers don’t.

  • Eric

    cool. I just skipped to the last part haha.

    • Alex

      I loved the article. Well written, comparatively shows both sides of the arguement, and expresses the thoughts clearly. Your a very good writer. IDb should value you.

    • jeddanel

      did exactly the same. -CONCLUSION… bam!

    • ViewRoyal

      This is another way to put it:

      Android is an operating system… NOT a phone.
      iPhone is a phone… NOT an operating system.

      Comparing the two is like comparing the market share of jet engines versus the market share of pineapples.

      If you are comparing the market share of operating systems, iOS (the operating system on Apple’s mobile devices… iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) is more than TWICE as large as the market share for Android (the operating system used on Android mobile devices).

      If you are comparing phones, then compare the iPhone to the most popular Android phone… which currently is the Samsung Galaxy S II. Recently Samsung announced proudly that they “shipped” a total of 5 Million Galaxy S ii’s in the first 6 months. In contrast, Apple recently announced that they “sold” more than 4 Million iPhone 4S’s (not including iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS also currently for sale) in the first weekend of sales. This really puts things in perspective!

  • Keith

    My man Cody went jay-z on the article! Not bad! Lol

    • yonafoe

      actually that would be “lil wayne & yo gotti” not “jay z” lol

      • sheryl

        Actually, they used the Jay-Z line for a title to their song sooo, you’re wrong.

      • Kelz

        Well we can see who doesn’t know there music. Shawn said it way before the 2 rappers you mentioned. Good try tho. Next..

  • Goofygreek

    That’s the problem with android. It’s literally on everything. In some cases it’s a good thing, in other cases it’s bad. The galaxy s2 is a really nice phone. And the new galaxy nexus is also going to be nice. I think if the main company’s that make android phones are just over populating the market with different types. There is to many to choose from. Unlike the iPhone which is only one new model per year. Besides, iOS is also easier to use. Andriod is more of an advanced os. (no insult intended.)

  • MicroMina

    I am a very happy android user and can not stand using an iOS device, but that doesn’t make the iOS bad for everyone.
    Customization is important for some, while an easy, works-out-of-the-box phone is the deal breaker for others. Some care about true multitasking while others don’t mind a phone with no flash in web browser.
    There is no better or worse, it depends on who uses it and what does they need in a smartphone.

    • Hershey

      I agree with you

    • mhsamma

      Well said mate. I use both platforms i.e. Android and IOS. Android for my phone and tablet and IOS for my iPad. Here is how I “personally” break down my need vs. want in utilizing which one to use when.

      ANDROID: Ditched my IP4 for G2x because I wanted more on a phone. Same for my Acer A500. Cloud+personal “removable” storage space is a MUST for me.
      IOS: I love this (my iPad) for its simplicity and how well the whole program is made including all its apps.

      All in all, I agree 100% with the person above on getting what suits you the best. In all honesty, I may see myself using an IOS phone sometime in future BUT in a Tablet I just have to choose Android for its infinite uses.

    • Kelz

      You & the two under you are way off point. No one cares if your happy with a android. Read the title & repeat the last part if you still don’t understand. Numbers don’t lie.

  • Zintuananh

    Cody, It would be much better just having a comparative table instead of a long boring article

    • Tannerozzy

      You only read picture books, don’t you?

  • anon

    “That would be like comparing one model of Mercedes against all cars that GM makes and saying that Mercedes is losing.”

    That is nonsense, Mercedes makes bunch of models and trucks and lorries and what not. Apple purposefully decided to be a closed platform and only ship 1 handset. So that decision is Apple’s and Apple’s only, they have to live with. If an open platform and various handsets out market shares you, you don’t get to arbitrary ignore your key weakness. You have to own it.

    I’m a happy iPhone user but not a blind fool.

  • CJ

    WTF is with most people nowadays, up until a few years ago handsets got smaller and smaller each year, also getting better and now all of a sudden people want tablet sized handsets, look at the size of the S 2, why would any1 want handsets like that, seems to me they are getting bigger and bigger now, going against everything that happened prior to smartphones. Why does any1 want a bigger screen etc, buy a tablet if you want a big screen, they are called mobile phones for a reason and the iPhone screen is big enough as it is.

    I for 1 won’t be buying any new smartphone when my contract expires, they are ok to start with whilst it’s all new but it’s just a fad, all I care about is sending texts, making calls, taking snaps and listening to music .. I don’t need a 4.5″ screen to do that and I want a phone that fits into my pocket and I barely notice it, not a brick like all Android handsets.

    • anon

      Then you should buy a phone only. I spend 98% of my time on my iPhone not making phone calls, so think of the Galaxies’s and the iPhones as mobile computers first and phones last and it will all make sense.

      • anon

        Also, that is why some of us have an inch to spare in our pockets for a larger screen, it pays dividends once you take it out and use it.

    • AppleBits


    • Broo2

      That is why there are several different sizes for Android; if you want to watch movies, facebook and work on spreadsheets get a phone with a big screen. If you only want to text and talk, go with a small phone.

      I like to use remote desktop to connect to my PC when not at home- a big screen on a phone is much better for that specific task- and I can have it in my pocket and check where-ever I am.

      Choice is good. 🙂

  • Drama

    I stopped reading when I saw “Cupertino company was able to sell over 4 million handsets during its opening weekend”. That is the point for me.


    Android users Hate on the 4S alot so here’s what i think.
    Lets compare iPhone 4S to (galaxy s2 & HTC sensation & Motorola devices)

    People that say Siri sucks i say what is the equivalent on android?
    People that say 1080p & 8mp camera is not a good enough upgrade i say android advertisements used that as a major selling point (galaxy S2 specially)
    People that say the design is the same as the iPhone 4 i say whats the different between the galaxy s & galaxy s2 apart from the screen the design is the same. only square on s2. HTC desire & Sensation design is the same & Motorola has 1 design milestone.
    People that say iPhone sucks i say how many fanboys did apple have in 2007 and how many customers do they have now?
    People that say iPhone copies alot from samsung and htc (YOU USE THE SAME OPERATING SYSTEM?!?!?!??!!) why buy a htc or Samsung or Motorola if they all have the same camera then how do you decide?

    I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this. I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion [£25bn] in the bank, to right this wrong

    • BLTKOR

      BTW i have been a very very moderate person when it comes to android but their fanboys are crazy a******s

      • The Swed

        And Apple fanboys are not?

      • BLTKOR

        @The Swed
        Did i say Apple fanboys are not?

    • Goofygreek

      Just a heads up, my s2 uses google voice control right out of the box, and it works almost perfect. Like 90% of the time it gets it right. Siri, on my friends 4s, gets it right about 80% of the time. Well at least when I use it. Also, the s2 has 2 different voice controls, samsungs which is a little worse than Siri, and googles which is great. As far as picking a handset, I like the look of the s2 more than any other android phone. And the bigger screen is nice. Fits a lot better in my hand then the iPhone4 did. I have big hands so the s2 fits perfect.

    • Broo2

      If Apple used their $40 billion to ‘destroy Android’ the Apple stockholders would go thermonuclear on them.

  • tdo

    Its not comparing Android vs iOS, is comparing SALES!!! I got symbian, then, by the statements of this article I have no smartphone!
    Numbers are just numbers. What makes the difference is what men and/or women can really develop or discover from them.

  • anon

    What a useless article.

    “Samsung’s total revenue (which comes from more than just smartphones) for the same quarter is thought to be just under $4 billion dollars”

    Since they reported it publicly we don’t have to guess,Samsung’s quarterly revenue was: $37billion

    How do you like them apples?

    • anon

      I guess numbers do lie?

    • Lian

      We can go even deeper than that by looking at what the most popular phone is on each wireless carrier (US obviously).

    • If you are going to troll, at least get your facts straight. $37 billion was Samsung’s revenue for the entire year of 2010.

      “To sum 2010 up: Samsung shipped 280 million mobile phones or 23% more than they did in 2009. They also made 4.3 trillion won ($3.86 billion) in profit on 41.2 trillion won ($37 billion) in revenue.”

      Thanks for reading!

      • Lian

        HE IS TALKING ABOUT THE US NUMBERS!!!!!!!!!!!! @#$!@#$% !@$()!@#!@#!@#

    • Derek

      “Since they reported it publicly we don’t have to guess,Samsung’s quarterly revenue was: $37billion

      How do you like them apples?”

      What the fuck are you saying? Samsung made $37 billion off smartphones?

    • Trinity

      You’d have to note that samsung is a massive conglomerate which deals in all sorts of products (like ships) as well as all the electronic parts which they make.

  • Andrew

    If were looking at the numbers, you could have thrown in Consumer Satisfaction. iPhone is tops 6 years running.

  • anon

    Perhaps the author should Google the following:

    Samsung shipped more than 20 million smartphones in its previous quarter, beating its fierce rival Apple who shipped 17 million smartphones.

    • Andrew

      Right on!

      And 4 million people waited for iPhone 4S opening weekend.

      • anon

        Doesn’t change the fact that Samsung sold more Smartphones than Apple did in the last quarter.

      • Steve

        @anon and again that doesn’t change the fact that 4 million people waited for iPhone 4S opening weekend. Let me know when there is a line for an android device.

    • Lol, the article only focuses on Android handsets. Samsung makes handsets with Windows Phone and its own proprietary Bada OS.

      Samsung even makes multiple Android phones, so to keep it fair, I just used numbers from its most popular models — the Galaxy S and the Galaxy S 2. Makes sense doesn’t it? Apple has only had two handsets on the market for the last 6 months, the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4.

      “More consumers are choosing Apple’s iOS-based smartphone than any Android handset on the market.”

      Thanks for reading!

  • iMarc

    Android users lack class.

  • anon

    Here is some more info for the author since these numbers are public

    Samsung, fourth quarter revenues for Smartphones only: $10billion

    • Anon is gay

      Why do loser android fanboys come to this site? Got nothing better to do? No android fanboys to hang around?

      • anonisgay is gay

        Happen to be both a iPhone and Smartphone user. These numbers too much for your reality?

  • lucidthinker

    One thing that this article and practically EVERY other article on IOS vs. Android is that Ipod touch sales are completely ignored. iPod Touches should be counted as devices that run IOS. Yes. Yes. They’re not phones but they run the same apps and including them would reflect the TRUE size of the platform. For that matter, you should include tablets as well (from both sides: IOS and android) to get a true comparison between the two platforms.

  • Aux

    most people who rock iphones nowadays dont even know how to use a iphone… all they have is stock apps and they just know how to call and text

    • Lian

      What’s wrong with that?

    • kubricklove

      Are you implying that “most” people that use iPhones are stupid? What percentage is most? To what degree is that percentage to be considered “stupid,” if that is your implication? Do you have any other pearls to cast before yourself?

    • Derek

      To be fair there are just as many people that use Android the same way. What is with Fandroids (not all android users, just the die hards) think that everyone that picked up am Android rooting, launcher switching, keyboard switching no life that don’t have other things to worry about than the boner they get about tweaking the shit out a phone 24/7?

      As soon as you buy an Android you are instantly a geek to these people.

  • ds

    true.. don’t forget that android has made smartphones available to more people, by giving them a whole range of gadgets to suit their different budgets.. not everybody can afford an iphone, mind you.. and what i love about android is just the number of things you can do on it! it’s way beyond phone~ it doesn’t dictate you how you should use your phone.. it lets you customize your phone to your own preferences.. yeah, apple lovers, you can just let apple dictate you what you should and shouldnt do with your device 😉 p.s. i was once an iphone user~

    • Tannerozzy

      iPhone 3GS is now free

  • Mj

    Who says ios cnt play flash vids / try skyfire 4 online n vlc for downloaded 1s haha apple rocks yo

  • Mj

    Who says ios cnt play flash vids / try skyfire 4 online n vlc for downloaded 1s haha apple rocks yo…

  • lrd

    Apple’s bringing home all the bacon. Like revenues are estimated at between $37 to $40 Billion for this coming quarter. That may turn out to be more than Google, Microsoft and Intel combined.

  • Jt

    I dont get it. Are we comparing phone to phone or os to os? Think its about 250k android activations per day. No specific brand. Just android phones. This is over the world. Not in usa only. Iphone is way more popular over there.

    And lol@the guy who missed to mention more manufacturers of android phones. I can come up with 3 more then the article said

  • Apple Turnover

    Wall Street only seems to be interested in market share numbers. That’s why they think that Apple is going to lose in the long term. Wall Street believes that Android market share will continue to grow to around 90% and therefore choke iOS and the iPhone to death. That’s their perception. In reality, Android market share is growing rapidly against the iPhone but Apple seems to be growing in smartphone financial percentage. Since Apple can never sell more iPhones than all the Android smartphone companies combined, Wall Street disrespects Apple and considers it a failing company. That’s why the P/E continues to be compressed which will hold down Apple’s share price long-term.

    • realtyme

      “android market share will continue to grow to around 90% and therefore choke ios and the iphone to death”… yeah no poop, because 90% of the earths population isn’t rich enough too be financially abused ( riped off )

  • mohgui

    i’m laughing my ass off reading all these comments…

  • Mai Tai

    What you said is not all correct to answer the question why iPhone is the best seller phone in the US and worldwide.
    Not everyone like us know what is inside the Iphone. Not everyone who owns an iPhone care about how fast it is or what OS it is running. However, I think that iPhone attracts people with its design, its look. And another thing is the price and its name. It is out of people’s thought. It is leading or somehow bringing a sense of the future, what it may be like to the world.

    For me, Iphone and other’s product of Apple are the best in design. They give user a sense of touching something great. Of course Apple’s products cost much higher than any. It also expresses the personality of the person who is using it.

    Nobody in the world would buy an iPhone 4s and just say..i love it processor.

    • John doe

      You couldnt be more wrong if you tried

  • Scaredy Shroom

    Once you’ve used a fully flavor buttery smooth iPhone before, you can’t just go back to low fat Android 😀

    • Broo2

      lol, I wouldn’t say that…

      I had a 3GS and went to a Motrola Droid. From the Droid I went to the Droid X and then went on to an iPhone 4. iPhone 4 is in the closet and I am using a xPeria Play. Once the Galaxy Nexus comes out I will be putting the xPeria Play on eBay.

      Zero interest in the iPhone 4S; it is the same as the 4 but a better camera and ‘Siri’ (completely useless to me). Maybe I will try Apple again when the iPhone 5 comes out.

  • Oh Boi Reg

    Couldn’t have said it any better. Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t. The entire iPhone line is killing all competition. If you ain’t first, then your last. And the iPhone is first.

  • anon

    Before the Samsung Galaxy Nexus even goes on sale, Samsung has managed to take the lead against Apple to become the largest mobile phone maker by revenue in the third quarter of 2011. Nokia still holds the crown for mobile phone sales by volume, while Apple has dropped behind both to take the number three spot in terms of revenue.

    Analyst Jae Lee, who estimates that Samsung sold around 28 million phones in the third quarter. In the same period, Apple only sold 17 million phones,

    With the help of the Samsung Galaxy S II no doubt, Samsung’s telecommunications business broke records this quarter with sales of 14.9 trillion won (US $13.5 billion), up 37 percent from last year.

    Them numbers don’t lie.

    • Jim Piwniuk

      Funny how Samsung looks like an iPhone. What would their sales be like if they didn’t copy others innovations?

  • John doe

    Once again you miss lead the readers.

    Reveenue from smart phones
    The $12.3 billion figure is made up of iPhone sales, carrier agreements, services, and Apple-branded / third party iPhone accessories.

  • Ben

    The intentionally misleading title makes you look like an idiot or a sensationalist. Either way, this is obviously a hardware vs hardware article. Not an Android vs iOS as you pitch it.