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Huge increase in number of Android devices reported, but Samsung still king

Some fresh data has emerged on the state of fragmentation of Android devices, courtesy of OpenSignal's August report on the issue which has just been published.

And the headline figure is that there are no less than 18,796 distinct Android devices out there this year – that is different devices which have downloaded the OpenSignal app, so this isn't a definitive figure for the total number of Android variants. Clearly, though, it's a hell of a lot – and it's also up considerably on last year's figure of 11,868 (indeed it's up over 50 per cent).

So, there are more and more different pieces of Android-powered hardware flooding onto the market this year, which is no surprise given that Google's mobile OS is becoming increasingly dominant. Indeed, recent figures from IDC show Android has an 85 per cent share of the global smartphone market.

While fragmentation is an issue which causes major headaches – all those different devices out there running different flavours of Android don't make it easy for developers to target their apps – OpenSignal also notes the positive side of the equation, namely the developing markets which can be leveraged with cheap Android handsets running older versions of the OS. The budget end of the global market is what has helped Android become such a dominant smartphone force.

Read more: Android and iOS dominate smartphone market with 96 per cent share combined

OpenSignal notes that "Android is successfully filling the gap left behind by the decline of Nokia's Symbian", and adds: "Android is now the dominant mobile operating system and this is because of fragmentation, not in spite of it."

As regards actual Android OS fragmentation, 21 per cent of users are now on KitKat, but the vast majority (54 per cent) are still on Jelly Bean (which is of course fragmented into three incarnations itself, 4.1 through to 4.3).

10.6 per cent are still on Ice Cream Sandwich, and 13.6 per cent on Gingerbread.

As for the most dominant Android phone vendor? Well, you'll get no prizes for guessing that's Samsung with a staggering 43 per cent share of all devices. Sony is a distant second on 4.8 per cent.