The 4 Types of Android Users

Android is huge. This year alone, it will outsell all Windows, OS X, and iOS devices combined, although many of these sales won’t come with Jellybean installed or even with the prospect of it ever being installed. And the Android user base is nearly as fragmented as the OS itself. Its wide reach has brought together a strange group of folks from all points along the tech-savviness spectrum.

While messing around with the classic Androidify, I came up with these four umbrella groups that I think capture most of the total Android user base. Some of these groups overlaps (The Hardcore Hacker and The Holo Purist, for example) while others are obviously mutually exclusive.

The Hardcore Hacker

Androidify sample

Hardcore Hacker?

Raison d’être: To take advantage of Android’s flexibility via custom ROMs, rooting, and power-user apps.

Quintessential apps: XDA-Developers, Titanium Backup PRO Key, Tasker, Paranoid Android Preferences, ROM Manager (Premium), various custom keyboards

Device of choice: anything that can run their latest creation

Modding an Android device is enormously popular, especially in the US. Developers in particular can take advantage of Android’s less locked-down structure to make it look like nearly anything. Rooting can also get rid of unwanted bloatware and allow for more nuanced battery management.

The Holo Purist

Androdify sample

Holo Purist?

Raison d’être: to show off how pretty and elitist Android can be; to show off that Android users actually care about design.

Quintessential apps: Google+, Notif Pro, Falcon Pro (RIP), Sliding Messaging Pro, Robin, Pocket Casts, Google Play Music, DashClock Widget, UCCW, various icon packs, Nova Launcher Prime

Devices of choice: Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, “Nexus Experience” phones (maybe)

Google has created a nice aesthetic with Holo, its recommendations for 4.0+ app design. A Holo Purist would lean heavily on Google’s own apps at the expense of third part alternatives, but she would also seek out non-Google apps that followed the same guidelines, too. I consider myself part of this category.

The Accidental Android User


Accidental Android User?

Raison d’être: to use a phone that is more affordable than the iPhone

Quintessential apps: Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Candy Crush Saga, Snapchat, Pandora

Devices of choice: HTC Evo 4G, Samsung Galaxy S2 (or S3), Amazon Kindle Fire

The Accidental Android user may not regard their phone as anything more than a phone. They likely use Android because of cost or carrier encouragement or (in rare cases) extreme anti-Apple bias. Their apps are likely to be hugely popular apps that aren’t differentiated much between platforms or which are popular alternatives to SMS and niche Google Services.

The Overzealous Reviewer


Overzealous Reviewer?

Raison d’être: to announce that she isn’t using an iPhone/iPad and that this new Android device might just be “the best smartphone, period” after running it thru a real-world use case like looped video streaming on maximum brightness with Twitter running in the background.

Quintessential apps: The Verge, Evernote, Twitter, Rdio, Spotify, Netflix

Devices of choice: HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4

This category is an outgrowth of the huge media “Apple is doomed” meme, in which some of the most technically powerful Android phones are analyzed in terms of irrelevant specifications like gHz or video playback endurance (the latter doesn’t even matter much unless you install a third party player) rather than user experience. The S4’s Geekbench score vis-a-vis the iPhone 5 is a good example. Also, one need not be a professional reviewer to fit into this category.

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