Tens of millions of Android tablets have gone years without a security update and could be at risk of hacking. In some instances, both Google (author of the Android OS) and the tablet vendor have pulled support for the devices.
The latest data on operating system share, released by analytics firm Net Marketshare, shows 13% of tablets (that's one in every eight) still run Android 4.4, which is nearly seven years old.
The last time this version of Android received a security patch was in October 2017 when a fix was issued for four vulnerabilities, two of which were deemed critical.
- Here's our list of the best business tablets of 2020
- We've curated the best rugged tablets on the market
- Protect your tablet with the best Android antivirus apps around
Other 4.x variants (Android 4.0 to Android 4.3) account for another 3% of tablets, while Android 5.x (Lollipop) devices make up nearly 10% of the userbase, making it the second most popular Android variant.
Up to a billion Android smartphones still run on version 6.x or older and unpatched devices are at significant risk of being infected with malware.
It was not long ago that tablets were regarded as the rightful heir to the laptop throne, spawning countless articles on why "they were better than notebooks" (although that didn't exactly pan out).
Android tablets based on Android 4.4 (AKA KitKat) were the first to truly bring the best out of Android on a slate form factor, boasting features that are now considered de facto standard.
Popular tablets that ran on Android 4.x include the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 LTE, the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet LTE, Samsung Google Nexus 10 and the original Nvidia Shield tablet.
Owners of older Android tablets would be wise to check for available updates, back up their data and protect their devices using antivirus services.
- Here's our choice of the best tablets right now
Are you a pro? Subscribe to our newsletter
Sign up to the TechRadar Pro newsletter to get all the top news, opinion, features and guidance your business needs to succeed!
Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.