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Security comparison: iOS beats Android by a mile

A group of security experts has published a report on the global availability of security updates for smartphones, with iOS devices easily topping the comparison chart. While it’s not a big surprise that Apple would beat out the competition in a “caring about security” fight, it’s a little shocking to see just how badly some of the big Android manufacturers fared in the comparison.

Microsoft and Nokia also scored remarkably well, with smartphones running Windows OS coming in a close second to iOS devices in terms of security releases. Unfortunately, Windows phones can’t really compete with the diverse app choice and rich feature sets of iOS and Android devices.

The report, which was carried out by independent analysts SecurityLab, looks at how quickly each company provides security updates once a flaw is discovered, and how long each company’s smartphones are continually supported with security updates after the launch of the device.

According to the report, Apple typically responds to security threats within a few days. Google and Essential are the only Android vendors who can boast the same, with most Android response times measured in weeks or even months.

Apple is also miles ahead of the competition in terms of overall support duration, with all devices fully supported with security updates for a full five years after release. (With the exception of iPhone 5C, which was only supported for four years.) This duration is unheard of in the Android world, with companies like Samsung, LG, and Huawei supporting devices for anywhere between 1 and 2.5 years after release.

To be fair, the fact that Android devices are so far behind is in part due to the fact that so many different models and variations exist. It’s difficult to maintain support for such a wide product base, which is probably why Android smartphones aren’t typically supported with security updates for more than a couple of years. By comparison, Apple has much tighter control over iOS and far fewer devices to worry about.

Though this study is fairly limited in scale, it does hammer home one of the big advantages of using an Apple device. With iOS, users are kept safe for longer than any other platform.