Since the HTC G1 introduced Android in October 2008, a multitude of vendors have shipped thousands of different smartphone models around the world. Yet only a few dozen have made a major impact. Here, I single out the 10 most significant Android smartphones in the platform’s short history. My criteria includes popularity, technological and design breakthroughs, and their debut of new Android releases. These were the phones that not only showed there were viable alternatives to the highly controlled, one-size-fits-all philosophy of the Apple iPhone – they were the phones that made people go “Wow.”
Although the list skews toward high-end models available in the U.S., it should be noted that Android’s success is due more to the wide variety of affordable options for consumers than in competing with the iPhone on the high end. In fact, a more suitable candidate for our list might be something like the Huawei C8650, a modest, 600MHz, 3.5-inch Android 2.3 phone that is still a top seller in China.
The C8650’s specs are not much different than the original G1, but it’s the software that makes all the difference. The simple, rough-hewn Android 1.0 — bereft even of a confectionary code-name — made for a somewhat bitter repast compared to Gingerbread, let alone the sweet delights of an Ice Cream Sandwich. Still, it was evident even in 2008 that the iPhone might soon have a real challenger on its hands.