If 2008 was the year of the first android device, 2009 was they year more carriers adopted android phones. One popular phone, the Motorola Droid, was arguably the phone that really got things started. But before I go there, let’s talk about the other phones released that year. And we will start with phones released on T-Mobile, the carrier that launched the first android phone.
Like the G1, this phone was built by HTC. The Dream, as it was called, was made available in the US via T-Mobile on July of 2009. The first touch only android phone was basically a re-branded G1. It had a slightly different look, but it was basically the same phone.
If HTC took the G1, added Sense UI software, a headphone jack, and a lite version of Adobe Flash, remove the physical keyboard, and you get the HTC Hero. Arguably one of the favorite phones of 2009, the Hero was a popular device on Sprint’s network. Released with cupcake (Android 1.5), the Hero specs wise sported similar specs of the G1 with more RAM (288), twice the internal storage (512MB), and a better camera (5.0 MP autofocus camera). HTC sat on top as the king of smartphones and android in 2009. And they would continue to spread their reach by rebranding the Hero as the Droid Eris for Verizon. HTC would keep that same design language (with minor changes) for many of their phones in the future (ie Desire).
Samsung would also make their debut in 2009, and one of the phones they released was the Samsung Moment for Sprint. One of the first slider phones for android, the phone sported a 3.2 in 16M AMOLED display. The introduction, for some, to a Samsung android phone was met with a bunch issues.
Samsung Behold II
Samsung also released the Behold II, the update to the Behold, with Android and Touchwiz. You could argue that this is where the “Samsung don’t update” controversy begun, as Samsung failed to update the phone’s software beyond what it came with out of the box.
The love ….uhhh, hate, with MotoBlur would be made prominent a few years later. But one of the first MotoBlur phones came by way of the Motorola Cliq. This phone was actually released after the Droid, as it was a slider phone for T-Mobile. It came out of the box with cupcake, like many of the phones that year.
Now to the phone we….(I) all have been waiting for. The phone that truly put android on the map.
At the time, AT&T had an exclusive deal with Apple and the iPhone. If you wanted an iPhone, you had to be on AT&T (officially). For everyone else, you had to take the next best thing. Google needed a powerhouse carrier to really give android the platform to really succeed. And Verizon needed a phone to compete with AT&T’s iPhone. And an agreement was formed by Google and Verizon.
With the name “Droid” being licensed to Verizon by Lucas Films, Verizon and Google had a phone that they felt could compete with the iPhone. The phone would come with a TI OMAP 3430 (underclocked) 550 MHz processor, 256 MB of RAM, 512 MB of internal storage, expandable storage of up to 64 GB (Verizon at the time of my purchase included a 16 GB memory card with purchase of the phone), 1400 mAh battery, capacitive touchscreen 854 x 480, 3.7 in, 16:9 aspect ratio, 256 display. Rear camera included 5MP, 720P video recording, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
This phone was marketed as the “anti-iPhone”. With the “iDon’t” commercials, Verizon rolled out the marketing budget for the phone and the brand. Now Verizon, and Google, did launch the Droid Eris (re-branded HTC Hero) alongside the Motorola Droid, but it was clear the phone that Verizon pinned to challenge the iPhone.
The Droid was the phone that buried the Blackberry. The Storm 2, with its clicking display, came off the negative background felt with the Storm. It was clear that Verizon didn’t have faith in the Storm 2, as they moved their eggs to the Droid bandwagon.
But back to the Droid. At the time the phone was considered a tank, it had nowhere near the app development as the iPhone, and there was a learning curve for those coming from the iPhone. But something happened. The unlocked bootloader was exploited and we got root. With root came ROMS, themes, overclocking, and more. This was the one thing “your iPhone” couldn’t do.
The Droid spawned a movement and changed development forever. People all over the world, and as young as middle and high school was learning to root and ROM. This encouraged people to learn coding just so they could build the next hot ROM. Communities were formed, bonds built, forums created, all around the DROID.
Despite some of the issues that came with the Droid, the flat keyboard, headphone jack issues, and those not liking the keyboard, the DROID is the phone that brought android to the mainstream. To this day, people still refer to android as “Droid phones”. That is the impact the Droid movement has had.