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The most important Android phones and tablets of the 2010s

Article Contents

  • 1 Samsung Galaxy S2 – 2011
  • 2 HTC ThunderBolt – 2011
  • 3 Motorola Xoom – 2011
  • 4 Kindle Fireplace – 2011
  • 5 Samsung Galaxy Nexus – 2011
  • 6 Samsung Galaxy Be aware – 2011/2012
  • 7 HTC One M7 – 2013
  • 8 Motorola Moto G – 2013
  • 9 OnePlus One – 2014
  • 10 Samsung Galaxy Fold – 2019

The second decade of the 21st century is coming to an in depth, and there is a lot to look again on. The Rosetta spacecraft made the primary profitable touchdown on a comet, america had two presidents, an entire lot of Marvel films got here out, and we bought the first close-up pictures of Pluto.

The 2010s additionally noticed the rise of the smartphone as a product class. Whereas there have been loads of smartphones within the 2000s, they did not develop into widespread consumer-level units till the introduction of the iPhone in 2008 and subsequent launch of the primary Android units in 2009.

In honor of the last decade’s finish, we’re wanting again at a very powerful Android telephones and tablets of the 2010s. These are listed so as of launch date.

Samsung Galaxy S2 – 2011

The Moto Droid established Android as a competitor to the iPhone, however the Samsung Galaxy S2 is why Android turned mainstream. The mixture of nice {hardware}, good software program, and Samsung’s international presence propelled the Galaxy model into widespread recognition – bringing Android alongside for the journey.

The Galaxy S2 was powered by an Exynos 4210 processor, with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of inside storage. It shipped with Android 2.Three Gingerbread, and was later up to date to 4.1 Jelly Bean. The cellphone additionally included a couple of options unusual on the time, like HDMI video out.

The Galaxy S2 obtained optimistic evaluations for its efficiency, digital camera high quality, and {hardware} construct. It bought very properly worldwide – 10 million models had been shipped within the first 5 months. Whereas the unique Galaxy S was profitable in its personal proper, the S2 cemented Samsung’s place because the dominant maker of Android telephones.

HTC ThunderBolt – 2011

Simply because a product is a technological innovation does not imply it is good. Within the Android world, there’s maybe no higher proof of that than the HTC ThunderBolt, initially launched in 2011. The ThunderBolt was Verizon’s first LTE-capable cellphone (the Samsung SCH-r900 was technically the world’s first LTE machine), however it gained a status for having completely horrible battery life.

The ThunderBolt got here outfitted with 786MB of RAM, 8GB of inside storage (with a 32GB microSD card pre-installed), a 4.3-inch 800×430 SLCD display screen, and a 1,400mAh battery. Our assessment from 2011 identified the cellphone had a lot of bloatware, and most different evaluations lamented in regards to the battery life. CNET wrote, “with heavier 4G utilization, we had been scrambling for an outlet after Three to Four hours,” and Engadget really helpful “carrying a conveyable battery-powered micro-USB charger or a spare inside battery for peace of thoughts.”

The ThunderBolt stays an vital Android machine for taking that first leap into the LTE future (within the US, anyway), however past that, it was a mediocre cellphone at greatest.

Motorola Xoom – 2011

The Motorola Xoom was Google’s first (and arguably final) try at severely competing with the iPad. It was the primary machine to ship with Android 3.zero Honeycomb, and it even had a business through the 2011 Tremendous Bowl that parodied Apple’s 1984 Tremendous Bowl advert for the Macintosh.

The Xoom did have some options the iPad lacked, like a extra desktop-like net browser (Chrome for Android wasn’t accessible but) and a full-size HDMI port. Nonetheless, the $800 price ticket was steep in comparison with the $499 iPad base mannequin, there was no Adobe Flash help at launch, and for those who thought there weren’t many tablet-optimized Android apps now, the scenario was much more grim in 2011. Granted, not less than all of the Google apps had pill interfaces, which is one thing you possibly can’t say in 2019.

Sadly, the Motorola Xoom’s success was short-lived. Gross sales dropped dramatically after a couple of months, and the Xoom 2 carried out much more poorly.

The Xoom is among the most vital Android units ever, not as a result of it was profitable, however as a result of it was Google’s solely try at preventing the rising dominance of the iPad. Whereas the later Nexus 7 did discover some success, it was marketed primarily as a low-end media-consumption machine, akin to the Amazon Fireplace tablets of immediately.

Future variations of Android slowly pulled again on the tablet-specific options, and 4.2 Jelly Bean drove the ultimate nail into the coffin with its elimination of the pill navigation bar.

Kindle Fireplace – 2011

Talking of tablets, the Kindle Fireplace can be an vital milestone up to now decade of Android units. Amazon’s first pill was launched in 2011, and on the rock-bottom worth of $199 (in a time when iPads had been nonetheless $500), it bought like hotcakes.

The unique Kindle Fireplace, very similar to the Fireplace tablets of immediately, wasn’t a really highly effective machine. It had a TI OMAP dual-core CPU, 512MB of RAM, a 1024×600 LCD display screen, 8GB of storage, and no SD card slot. Nonetheless, the estimated eight hours of battery life and light-weight design made it an honest different to the iPad for studying books and streaming movies.

Once more like modern-day Fireplace tablets, the Kindle Fireplace shipped with a heavily-modified model of Android (2.Three Gingerbread, on this case) with no Android Market. The Amazon Appstore was nonetheless in its infancy, however identical to immediately, there was a big sufficient assortment of purposes and video games for most individuals.

Amazon by no means supplied strong gross sales numbers for the unique Kindle Fireplace, solely saying in 2011 that it was the “#1 bestselling, most gifted, and most wished for product” on Amazon.com. Estimates say round 7 million models had been bought by 2013.

The Kindle Fireplace is an extremely vital machine for a couple of causes. It began a line of Fireplace tablets that is still extremely efficiently to this present day, it helped cement Android because the go-to working system for funds tablets, and the Amazon Appstore it popularized stays the one main competitor to the Google Play Retailer worldwide.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus – 2011

Android 4.zero Ice Cream Sandwich was a monumental replace, and for my part, the primary model that severely competed with iOS. The brand new design language, Holo, made the working system appear and feel considerably higher than Gingerbread. There have been loads of different useful enhancements too, like NFC help, face unlock, visible voicemail, and extra. Since ICS was such an vital launch, it solely is smart that the primary cellphone to run it — the Samsung Galaxy Nexus — would even be noteworthy.

The Galaxy Nexus was Samsung’s second time manufacturing a cellphone for Google. It had a TI OMAP 4460 processor, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (with no SD card slot), and a 4.65-inch 720p AMOLED display screen. A 5MP digital camera was positioned on the again, and a 1.3MP shooter was on the entrance.

The cellphone obtained principally optimistic evaluations at launch. In our put up from 2011, Ron wrote, “The {hardware} is nice, the display screen is gorgeous, and it is the one cellphone that will not be saddled with OEM skins and ready for updates. […] That is, palms down, the perfect Android cellphone accessible. Go purchase it.” Seven years later, Ryne tried utilizing the cellphone for every week, and it did not go properly.

Sadly, the glowing reward did not final ceaselessly. The Galaxy Nexus suffered from low-quality flash storage and a scarcity of TRIM, which made the cellphone develop into sluggish for many customers after a couple of months. Nexus telephones changing into unusable after an prolonged time frame turned a pattern with future fashions.

Samsung Galaxy Be aware – 2011/2012

For a number of years, smartphone screens not often handed Four inches in diameter. This allowed them to be simply transportable, however as purposes develop into extra feature-packed, the will for bigger shows turned obvious.

Samsung answered the decision for bigger screens with the unique Galaxy Be aware. It was launched in Europe and different markets in late 2011, and it got here to america in February of 2012. The cellphone had a 5.3-inch 800×1280 AMOLED display screen, which was huge for the time, however small by immediately’s requirements.

Different specs included a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU (or an Exynos processor outdoors the US), 1GB of RAM, 16GB of inside storage, and Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread. It additionally included the ever-useful S-Pen, which may very well be used to scribble notes and annotate screenshots.

As our assessment from 2012 factors out, the Be aware was a fantastic machine when it was launched. The display screen was wonderful (as soon as you bought used to the dimensions), the battery life was nice, and it supported 4G LTE. The one actual draw back was the software program; it shipped with Gingerbread after Ice Cream Sandwich was launched, and lots of the apps did not benefit from the bigger display screen.

In lower than two months, and earlier than it even arrived within the US, the Galaxy Be aware handed a million models bought — proving that there was a marketplace for bigger units. Different producers finally made competing telephones, and Apple lastly jumped on the big-screen bandwagon in 2014 with the iPhone 6.

HTC One M7 – 2013

HTC manufactured the primary Android cellphone, and it has continued making units with the OS to this present day — in a restricted capability, anyway. Out of all the corporate’s Android-powered units, maybe none was extra influential within the smartphone trade than the One M7.

In a world dominated by plastic and glass smartphones, the One M7 stood out with its attractive aluminum design. The cellphone was additionally praised for its sharp 4.7-inch 1080p display screen. In our assessment from 2013, David mentioned, “You will not discover a cellphone on the market with a show that can make you happier than the One’s for sheer magnificence.”

The One M7 additionally had twin front-facing audio system with Beats branding, a fantastic rear digital camera, an IR blaster, and a revamped model of HTC’s Sense pores and skin. It was an all-around nice machine, and doubtless the height achievement of HTC’s smartphone division. Most significantly, the cellphone inspired different producers to supply all-aluminum units.

Motorola Moto G – 2013

For what appeared like ceaselessly, all funds Android telephones had been horrible, poorly-built units with outdated software program. Whereas there are nonetheless loads of cheap telephones in 2019 that match that description, the unique Moto G earned a status for being the primary not-terrible funds handset.

Motorola launched the primary Moto G cellphone in late 2013, on the low worth of $179 (or $199 for the 16GB model). It was nonetheless principally plastic, however the Snapdragon 400 processor paired with mostly-stock Android was sufficient for a strong expertise. I ought to know, as a result of I purchased one after my Nexus 5 died.

Just a few months after the cellphone’s launch, a Google Play Version got here out with the identical $179/$199 price ticket. In mid-2014, a tweaked model with 4G LTE help got here out, alongside the primary Moto E cellphone. An precise second-generation mannequin was launched in September of that yr, and the product line continues to this present day.

OnePlus One – 2014

No record of vital Android telephones can be full with out the OnePlus One. In an period the place the one ‘funds flagship’ you possibly can purchase was a Nexus 5, the OnePlus One made headlines with its $299 price ticket. It had a modest plastic polycarbonate design with a 5.5-inch 1080p display screen, however the Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB of RAM made it essential.

The cellphone was additionally the primary machine to ship with CyanogenMod out of the field. Although it was a fantastic promoting level on the time, the connection between Cyanogen and OnePlus was rocky, and the 2 corporations finally stopped working collectively a yr after the cellphone was launched. In response, OnePlus developed its personal OxygenOS ROM, which continues to be the inventory software program on OnePlus telephones.

The OnePlus One did not affect the smartphone trade on a grand scale, however it did solidify OnePlus as a favourite firm amongst Android fanatics. After Google discontinued the Nexus lineup in 2016, OnePlus turned the only ‘funds flagship’ possibility for most individuals. The corporate remains to be releasing nice worth smartphones to this present day.

Samsung Galaxy Fold – 2019

The Galaxy Fold’s place in historical past is not set in stone but, for the reason that cellphone was solely launched a couple of months in the past. Nonetheless, it deserves a spot on this record for being the primary mass-market foldable smartphone.

The unique Galaxy Fold design (observe the shortage of a masking across the show)

Samsung revealed the Galaxy Fold in February 2019, and the principle attraction was the big 7.3-inch OLED display screen that appeared when opening the machine. Nonetheless, the launch was delayed after the primary wave of assessment models began failing, and all pre-orders had been canceled pending adjustments to the manufacturing course of.

The redesigned Galaxy Fold

The cellphone lastly bought its restricted launch in September 2019, and whereas the Galaxy Fold remains to be extra fragile than your common smartphone, not less than it will not fully break after a couple of days of normal use. Should you’re interested in the way it holds up, we did a hands-on again in October.

Regardless of its manufacturing points and still-questionable construct high quality, it deserves a spot on this record for not simply being the primary foldable Android cellphone, however the first foldable cellphone interval. This can be a type issue we’ll completely see extra typically within the coming years — Motorola, TCL, Xiaomi, Oppo, and others are already engaged on related units.

About Corbin Davenport

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