#10yearchallenge: This is what flagship smartphones looked like 10 years ago

#10yearchallenge: This is what flagship smartphones looked like 10 years ago
In the spirit of the trendy #10yearchallenge which might or might not be used by Facebook in training its in-house AI project, we decided to take a look back and explore what the mobile industry looked like 10 years ago. We really shouldn't forget our roots. If anything, the mobile industry has recently proved that history repeats itself by reinventing the slider phone and sort of about to "reimagine" the flip phone by coming up with foldable devices.

Technically speaking, no major manufacturer has yet released their offering in 2019, but we'd still compare their decade-old phones with the current best devices they have on the shelves.

Let's take a look back at the brands and manufacturers that were considered the ultimate Crème de la crème back in 2009, in a time when Farmville ruled over a Facebook that was still cool with the kids, Barack Obama took office for the first time, and "Tik Tok" was merely a single by Kesha.


In 2009, Apple was really struggling to introduce any meaningful upgrade to the original iPhone released two years prior. For all its worth, that "S" at the end stood for little more than an incremental upgrade, a tradition that would subsequently catch up with Apple and accentuate the minor yearly  refreshes of its iPhone releases. Aside from little to no changes in the exterior, the software of the iPhone 3GS wasn't really cutting it at the time, too, with webOS, Symbian, Android, and WIndows Mobile really giving Apple's software team a run for the money. 


That's right, basically the Galaxy lineup turns 10 this year as the Godfather of Samsung's smartphone family was announced and released a decade ago. Similarly to its multiple flagship offspring over the years, the original Galaxy had an AMOLED display that was spanning across 3.5 inches, a rather standard flagship screen size at the time. There was also a 5MP camera and some rather humble hardware that struggled in some situations. The Galaxy i7500 was Samsung's first phone to run a relatively new but very promising operating system you might've heard of. It was called Android. 

10 years later, the Galaxy lineup has blossomed into one of the the leading families of Android phones. 2019 is also shaping up to be a rather eventful year for Samsung, which is announcing its 


No way around that, the HTC Hero was undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best Android phone at the time. Aside from the intriguing curved design and the odd trackball that actually worked wonders in the early days of Android, the HTC Hero also stands out with its anti-scratch, anti-smudge teflon coating that actually turned out to be an excellent choice on HTC's part. Fast forward a decade ahead and HTC is in quite the dire straits as it's been struggling to remain a competitive force on the smartphone market. 

While HTC has not released its 2019 flagship yet, the best device in its current portfolio is the U12+; here's to hoping its successor has all the bells and whistles to be competitive.


10 years ago, Sony was still known as Sony Ericsson and hadn't shown any interest into Android yet. That's why most of its phones at the time came with either Sony's proprietary smartphone system (OSE), Windows Mobile, or even Symbian S60. 10 years ago, the Xperia X2 was announced with Windows Mobile powering the show, a great 3.2-inch display, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and one of the best cameras on a Windows Mobile-powered device at the time.

In 2019, Sony is expected to step up its game with a slew of smartphones, with the Xperia XZ4 being the most anticipated one right now. Currently however, the Xperia XZ3 is definitely the best device the Japanese manufacturer has in the lineup.


Remember the LG enV Touch? Sure you do. Released 10 years ago, this slider phone was one of the bigger competitors of Apple's iPhone lineup and one of the most popular devices on Verizon in 2009. With two 3-inch displays, neat appearance, improved user interface and music player, a 3MP autofocusing camera, document viewer, excellent call quality and reception, the LG enV Touch was quite possibly one of the highlights of the mobile space in 2009.

A decade later, the best phone LG has in its portfolio at the time of writing is the LG V40, a sleek and mostly-underrated flagship that was left in the shadows of others.


How can we forget the OG Droid, the Motorola Droid, the first device to come with Android 2.0 and Google Maps navigation on deck! The slider had excellent ergonomics, display, call quality, reception, and overall attention to detail, which were more than enough to make it a household name. Sure, it had its fair share of issues, namely a teeny-tiny keyboard and not-so-great battery life, but overall, the OG Droid was a trooper.

A decade in the future and Motorola is still heavily-invested in Android, with the Z3 being the crown jewel in its current lineup. We are excited to see what the company hasin store for us!


With excellent performance, admirable multitasking in a time when that was still a rather exotic word for smartphones, superb browsing experience, and a great screen, the Nokia N900 was quite possibly the best smartphone in Nokia's rather eventful year of 2009. Only the rather limited number of Symbian applications could have been cited as a major downside of the N900, and still this didn't prevent it from being an excellent overall performer. A classic phone from a classic manufacturer.

In 2019, Nokia should probably finally release that anticipated Nokia N9 flagship which has been in the cards for more than a year now. Until this happens, however, the current best device in Nokia's current portfolio is the Nokia 8 Sirocco



1. TechNeck

Posts: 657; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

It's amazing how far mobile phones have gotten

2. Ray.S

Posts: 464; Member since: Jul 19, 2011

And how big!

6. Valdomero

Posts: 706; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

And thin!

23. luis.aag90

Posts: 279; Member since: Aug 12, 2014

And expensive!

7. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

It is They ALL were so ugly back then compared to now.

3. dimas

Posts: 3434; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

2019- redmi note 7 2009- "xiaomi or show me for company name, boss?"

4. whatev

Posts: 2443; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

The N900 was a magnificent phone, what an involution did Nokia suffer :(

8. monoke

Posts: 1205; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

It was more mini Linux mini computer with phone functionality. Nokia was among the first to do tablets. N900 evolved from that with Maemo.

15. whatev

Posts: 2443; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

Smartphones would have been different if Nokia didn’t die and Maemo/Meego

20. domfonusr

Posts: 1101; Member since: Jan 17, 2014

Yeah it is a shame it turned out that way, but hey, it is what it is and we can't go back in time... I was able to run full blown Debian on my Nokia N800 back in the day. Loved Maemo, though. I was able to run full OpenOffice on it, too. Good thing it had an included stylus and available on-screen keyboard... ahead of its time, indeed. I think if PhoneArena lists Apple's iPod Touch devices and iPads, then it only would have made sense to list Nokia's 770, N800, N810, N810 WiMax and all, but, like I said before, it was not a well understood form-factor, in terms of its relation to smartphones, back in the day. So, once again, I can't really fault PA for not listing them back in the day, and it would make no sense to add them after the fact. Well, pleasant remembrances to everyone... I miss those days!

24. luis.aag90

Posts: 279; Member since: Aug 12, 2014

I was a Nokia user for 6 consecutive years. Although I never had the N95 nor the N9, those were my favorite Nokia phones hands down

25. whatev

Posts: 2443; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

All Nokia N-Series were unique, you don’t see this kind of fresh and breakthrough devices nowadays, I really miss that Nokia

31. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Wow, something we can agree on. I still have a couple of my old Nokia's put up.

5. xtroid2k

Posts: 601; Member since: Jan 11, 2010

I miss my droid so much!

10. monoke

Posts: 1205; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Thing was built like a tank! Better build quality than most phones at the time.

9. WilliamH

Posts: 17; Member since: Dec 24, 2012

I would seriously consider switching from my iPhone for a 2019 version of the OG Droid with a big 4K screen and a slide out keyboard

13. lyndon420

Posts: 6914; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Some days I really miss my HTC Dream/G1.

11. ProudFather

Posts: 26; Member since: Jan 04, 2019

I'm really sadden to see how HTC doesn't get the media attention it deserves. It's been great 10 years, let's make it great again! I hope foldables do just that.

12. monoke

Posts: 1205; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Looking back, I'm glad Android has evolved from the 4 dedicated menu keys. Talk about redundant. I don't think I ever used the search key like ever.

14. ProudFather

Posts: 26; Member since: Jan 04, 2019

Wasn't that bad, it was useful when the phone froze and the only way to exit out of the screen was pushing the psychical button. Or even, just to go to the home screen period, the touch home button is not that responsive as the psychical one, you gotta admit it.

16. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1595; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

iPhone hasn't changed much when compared to the others.

17. skips

Posts: 490; Member since: Oct 04, 2015

the thing i miss from past is how unique and distinctive the physical outer designs were for each phone. now.... uhh yikes.

18. Loveneesh

Posts: 451; Member since: Jul 14, 2015

Agreed, phones in past are way more unique and cooler compared to newer ones expect some (like rog phone).

30. patroni0

Posts: 56; Member since: Mar 26, 2012

Omg i was just saying this with someone the other day! we miss how different all the different flagships and phones used to look it was so fun and creative

19. SyCo87

Posts: 329; Member since: Sep 19, 2013

The HTC hero was the phone to get if you didn't like the iPhone. The Droid was pretty popular too, but it was only on Verizon.

21. Vogue1985 unregistered

You should have added Blackberry,Nokia and Motorola, as each were at the top at some point and have been making phones longer than the stated. Anyways, what a big difference, it was Very easy to distinguish the phone brands they all had unique designs,very little copycatting like today.

28. peter.k

Posts: 78; Member since: Jul 05, 2017

Motorola and Nokia were included from the get-go, so not sure what you meant, pal.

22. makiz

Posts: 33; Member since: May 30, 2017

Xperia X2! Love

26. trollz

Posts: 63; Member since: Oct 11, 2013

Looks like Nokia hopped on the notch bandwagon about 10 years too early!(if you count their branding on the right side as a notch)

27. AndyYan

Posts: 84; Member since: Feb 10, 2014

N900 does not run Symbian, but otherwise I'm very grateful for you to even mention it instead of those miserable S60V5 devices.

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