Less than 10 percent of Android phones are encrypted, compared to 95 percent of iPhones

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Less than 10 percent of Android handsets are encrypted, compared to almost 95 percent of iPhones, according to recent estimates by experts.

A report in the Wall Street Journal said the Android operating system runs on more than 4,000 different types of handsets manufactured by 400 different manufacturers, which totals more than 1.4 billion Android devices around the world.

Google’s open source Android operating system allows smartphone owners much more freedom and choice compared to Apple’s iOS. Modifications and changes are actively encouraged, while Apple’s iOS is tightly controlled by the company itself.

Some smartphone manufacturers have avoided encrypting handsets over fears that it may slow the device down and affect performance.

iPhone 6

Encrypting a device is generally the safest way to store data. The process of encryption involves distorting contacts, images and other data on the phone so that only authorised parties can decrypt the data and read it.

Apple has been automatically encrypting devices since 2014 with the rollout of iOS 8. Apple’s messaging service iMessage uses end to end encryption to help keep text, video, images and other data protected.

There are currently only around 5 percent of iPhones which are not encrypted and these are on devices which are still using iPhone 7 or below, according to the WSJ research.

However, by comparison, the majority of Android devices use SMS technology which is not encrypted.

In fact, only around 2 percent of Android handsets are encrypted to the same level as an iPhone. These are Android handsets which run the latest version of Google’s operating system, Marshmallow, as it requires devices to be encrypted in order to be able to run it.

Google’s own Nexus range of handsets are also encrypted, and have been since 2014.

Another reason why such a high percentage of iPhones are encrypted is because iOS typically has a high adoption rate when a new version is released.

Android user stats

Android user stats March 2016. Source: Google

However, it’s a very different story on Android, where the latest version of the operating system is rolled out gradually and is sometimes dependent on manufacturers such as Samsung and Huawei updating their devices with their own flavours of Android.

This means that the majority of Android users do not recieve the latest version right away.

User stats released by Google earlier this month revealed that most users (36%) are still using Android Lollipop, while 34 percent are using KitKat 4.4, which was released back in 2013.

The release of Marshmallow shows that Google is taking (slow) steps to improve the overall security of Android, making it mandatory for all OEMs to enable encryption by default.

 

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