8 classic Android smartphones that blew our minds back in the day

8 classic Android smartphones that blew our minds back in the day
Like most other things in the world, Android had a bumpy start. It took a great amount of software enhancement, hardware experimentation and, not of lesser importance, Verizon's huge marketing budget, in order to finally get things going. Along the way, however, we got to deal with some pretty unusual and remarkable smartphones for their time.

Sure, they may seem outdated by today's multi-core, super-sized standards, but they were once considered cutting-edge - cream of the crop of their Android kind. Who are they? Well, they are the smartphones that helped establish Android's foundations. A bit rough around the edges, and not really that mainstream, but still full of charm.

T-Mobile G1


Of course, how can we even have a list with "classic Android phones" without starting things off with the first ever Android handset - the T-Mobile G1 (also known as HTC Dream). Sure, this first Android wasn't much to look at, but as we already said - no beginning is easy.

  • Release date: September 23, 2008
  • Screen: 3.2" TFT, 320 x 480 pixels
  • Chipset: MSM7201A | 528 MHz CPU | Adreno 130 GPU | 192 MB RAM
  • Initial OS version: Android 1.0
  • Role: Android initiator



Samsung Galaxy


There isn't that much to recall here when thinking about Samsung's first Android phone, the Galaxy, but knowing the way Samsung outright conquered this market, we can't help but trace the root of its power back to the very beginning - the first Galaxy smartphone.

  • Release date: June 29, 2009
  • Screen: 3.2" AMOLED, 320 x 480 pixels
  • Chipset: MSM7200A | 528 MHz CPU | Adreno 130 GPU | 128 MB RAM
  • Initial OS version: Android 1.5 Cupcake
  • Role: Samsung's baby steps



HTC Hero


Ah, the HTC Hero... A remarkable phone - one of the first major efforts at Android interface customization. Realizing the need of a more polished user environment, HTC went ahead and produced Sense UI - a good-looking and customizable (for its time) experience that actually made HTC's Android look quite tasty in comparison with its stock variant. You know, there was no Matias Duarte at Google back then...

  • Release date: July 23, 2009
  • Screen: 3.2" TFT, 320 x 480 pixels
  • Chipset: MSM7200A | 528 MHz CPU | Adreno 130 GPU | 288 MB RAM
  • Initial OS version: Android 1.5 Cupcake
  • Role: First major Android customization with Sense UI



Motorola DROID


Even though the market had seen some interesting Android devices, the Android revolution was still missing its true hero device to really kick things off. That phone came at the end of 2009: Motorola, in strong partnership with Verizon Wireless, released the Motorola DROID. Backed by a massive marketing campaign mostly aimed at the tech-savvier part of society, the DROID quickly became a hit with users who wanted a powerful smartphone without an Apple logo on it.

  • Release date: November 5, 2009
  • Screen: 3.7" TFT, 480 x 854 pixels
  • Chipset: TI OMAP3430 | 600 MHz CPU | PowerVR SGX530 GPU | 256 MB RAM
  • Initial OS version: Android 2.0 Eclair
  • Role: Kick-starts the Android revolution



HTC Legend


HTC may be one of the many struggling phone manufacturers now, but back in the day, it was raking in record profits each consecutive quarter. The company made a rather successful transition from the aging Windows Mobile to the promising Android and, at least during the first few years of its new endeavor, HTC was up there at the top of the food-chain. The HTC Legend came out near that time of grandeur for HTC. Considered a spiritual successor to the HTC Hero, the Legend not only had the signature Sense interface, but also featured a sleek metal uni-body design.

  • Release date: March 12, 2010
  • Screen: 3.2" AMOLED, 320 x 480 pixels
  • Chipset: Snapdragon S1 | 600 MHz CPU | Adreno 200 GPU | 384 MB RAM
  • Initial OS version: Android 2.1 Eclair
  • Role: A symbol of HTC's excellence in product design



Google Nexus One


And here comes the first Nexus phone. Of course, it came and went with relatively little buzz, but it was warmly-welcomed by the tech-savvy community. Not only this, but the Nexus One (produced by HTC), was Google's first serious intervention in the hardware aspect of the Android ecosystem. It didn't sell much, but back then, it was only offered full-price through Google, and full-price meant in the range of $500-600, not $200-300.

  • Release date: March 16, 2010
  • Screen: 3.7" AMOLED, 480 x 800 pixels
  • Chipset: Snapdragon S1 | 1 GHz CPU | Adreno 200 GPU | 512 MB RAM
  • Initial OS version: Android 2.1 Eclair
  • Role: First Google phone



Samsung Galaxy S


Samsung's true foray into the world of Android began with the Galaxy S smartphone. Even though things really started exploding with the second generation of the S line, the original Galaxy S was the phone that directed the spotlights to shine in Samsung's direction. It was the beginning of Samsung's dominance, and also - the beginning of the end for the HTC era.

  • Release date: June 2, 2010
  • Screen: 4" AMOLED, 480 x 800 pixels
  • Chipset: Hummingbird | 1 GHz CPU | PowerVR SGX 540 GPU | 512 MB RAM
  • Initial OS version: Android 2.1 Eclair
  • Role: Originator of the massively-successful Galaxy S line



Motorola DROID X


With a few rare exceptions, Motorola has been "enjoying" a mostly underdog status during most of its time in the Android business. Well, besides the popular DROID, one of those rare exceptions was the DROID X - a surprisingly versatile and well-rounded smartphone that proved to be technologically-superior to most of its peers. The fact that we rated it 9.5 at the time is a testament of its excellence.

  • Release date: July 15, 2010
  • Screen: 4.3" TFT, 480 x 854 pixels
  • Chipset: TI OMAP3630-1000 | 1 GHz CPU | PowerVR SGX 530 GPU | 512 MB RAM
  • Initial OS version: Android 2.1 Eclair
  • Role: A stand-out performer for its time


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50 Comments

1. M5OOO

Posts: 11; Member since: May 15, 2013

nice story... and in the continue... it's when my live walkman was the flagship! role: powerful music android smartphone of all time

32. madmikepr

Posts: 138; Member since: Aug 09, 2011

Back in that Days HTC And Motorola Rule The World ...

44. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

They ruled the android world. At the same time, Nokia was selling more phones alone than almost every other OEM combined.

2. NokiaFTW

Posts: 2072; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

The Motorola DROID/MILESTONE is the only Android phone I have really loved. Its one of my favorite phones of all time. Wish Motorola continue that legendary line up with a DROID 5.

43. JC557

Posts: 1918; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

I still have my Motorola Droid (v1) and it still works. It's also pretty smooth with the Gingerbread ROM installed on it. I always loved the design but the camera was not that great (good for those days I guess). I never cared for the design of the Droid 2 and 3 with the Droid 4 needed some time to grow on me. I do hope they release a Droid 5 with a slide out keyboard with a body similar to the Droid 1.

3. gigaraga

Posts: 1454; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

These classics are all legends...especially the Samsung Galaxy S!

27. RandomUsername

Posts: 808; Member since: Oct 29, 2013

*except

31. SamDroid unregistered

Just had to troll, didja?

49. javy108

Posts: 1004; Member since: Jul 27, 2014

Galaxy S was damn slow !

4. rahul.niks

Posts: 86; Member since: Oct 31, 2013

That was the time Nokia didn't even expect it's reign to end like this, but then question is how htc killed itself even with such a good start?

16. iampayne

Posts: 322; Member since: Aug 12, 2013

2 words Product Dilution

42. JC557

Posts: 1918; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

Yup, quite a few hits along with quite a few misses. Then there was also tainting of some of their phones by people who never even had much experience with them writing reviews that were easily refuted by actual owners but the damage was already done. This was before the HTC One. I liked the Droid Incredible but the Incredibles after that weren't that great.

48. mschmal

Posts: 23; Member since: Sep 01, 2011

Nokia never learned Henry Ford's lesson. "If I had asked people what kind of car they wanted, they would have told me that wanted a faster horse."

45. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Too many phones too quickly, burning users out and causing confusion among shippers and sellers both. Plus trying to out-do other OEMs with untested or undeployable features, like the Thunderbolt, Verizon's first LTE (and dual-core?) phone when they hardly had any LTE coverage, and it had completely crap battery life to boot, plus goofy firmware. The start of the fall, really

5. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

The other meaningful contribution the Droid X made was that it, along with the HTC Evo, started the arms race for significantly larger screens. I remember at the time how blown away I was by its size. The first thing my dad said when he saw it was "is that a tablet?!" My dad still uses my Droid X, and as far as I know it still runs perfectly. :) I'm considering sending him my Droid Mini sometime in the near future, since it's a lot newer and has the same screen size despite being a smaller phone overall. I think this is a very good list overall. :) It was a fun read. I think the original Droid was also the first Android phone to really prioritize having a good camera on board; I remember its camera was pretty well received in the original review.

8. Ray.S

Posts: 452; Member since: Jul 19, 2011

Glad you like it, man. Thanks for tuning in!

22. snowgator

Posts: 3614; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

I can remember still owning a simple little feature phone, and a friends wife owned that X. Sure made me envious. That thing was a smooth phone that worked amazingly well. I agree that this "massive" 4.3" monster made people want big screens. The next thing, Samsung testes the waters with the 4.5" Epic, and people raved about that one. It was on after that, and keyboards were dead and didn't even know it. Think it is kinda cool you have an"X" still alive in the family.

46. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Don't forget the Dell Streak 5". Lower volume but it helped break the ice for larger (but small compared to now) screens to become mainstream.

47. marteaga83

Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 07, 2014

thank you for mentioning the evo why is that phone not on this list it had a 4.3" screen when every one had 3" 8 megapixel camera when every one else had 2 first 4g first front camera great phone what htc did wrong was not offer this phone on at&t and Verizon instead they made different phones for each carrier Samsung and apple are successful because they offer the same phone across carriers

6. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Also, you might want to consider splitting the galleries and phone list up into like 4 pages. Having it all on one page almost gave my work computer a damn heart attack.

9. Astoni

Posts: 649; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Then you might want to upgrade you PC/Mac, cause it isn't even a strain for a mid-end phone to load this xD.

11. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Yeah, like I said: WORK computer. Not allowed to touch it. :P

21. Astoni

Posts: 649; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

oh ok :p. but still that has to be an old one :/

41. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Lol yeah, I think it only has a single gig of RAM.

37. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Working doesn't mean browse phonearena.

40. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

It does when you work as a security guard on an overnight shift at a quiet location where nothing happens. :)

7. fanboy1974

Posts: 1345; Member since: Nov 12, 2011

The Droid OG was my first taste of Android and I never looked back. Next was the Droid X. Hard to believe that those were my only 2 Motorola phones. Samsung just started to steamroll the competition.

10. CanYouSeeTheLight

Posts: 1122; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

Small mistake here, Android 2.1's name is Eclair not Froyo, but overall very good read thx PA.

12. Ray.S

Posts: 452; Member since: Jul 19, 2011

Oh boy, I've fixed it, but I could really do with some nice frozen yoghurt right now...

14. PootisMan

Posts: 266; Member since: Aug 02, 2013

No Atrix 4g?

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