The world’s first Android smartphone: 10 years on

Long before the likes of the Samsung Galaxy range, Google took the smartphone scene to a new level with the arrival of Android on the T-Mobile G1. Ten years ago the HTC made slider keyboard device was the first to use the operating system. Essentially the G1 was the world’s first Android smartphone.

It was an attempt to rival the game-changing iPhone. The iPhone had debuted a year earlier and was already making progress with the follow-up iPhone 3G. At the time, competition was particularly tough as the likes of Nokia and BlackBerry were still a thing.

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 T-Mobile G1 world’s first Android smartphone
T-Mobile G1 (T-Mobile)

“It’s set to revolutionise the way we use the internet on our mobiles,” said then-managing director of T-Mobile UK Jim Hyde, when the first Android smartphone hit British shores in October 2008.

“It’s uniquely built for effortless online communication whether you want to email, text or blog. And with access to some groundbreaking applications on Android Market the possibilities really are endless.”

Queues for the device started to form outside T-Mobile’s Oxford Street store in central London from 5am on the day of the phone’s release.

Google’s mission was, and remains, to be an open-source alternative to iOS. They allow any manufacturer to make their own smartphone handsets using the Android operating system framework.

The T-Mobile G1, also known as the HTC Dream in some countries, featured a tiny 3.2-inch 320 x 480 pixel display. It’s dwarfed by some of the Android smartphones we see today of course.

Customisation was key to the T-Mobile G1 at launch. A principle Android adheres to ten years on.

Android began as an independent company. It started by making operating systems for digital cameras. The company was bought out by Google for $50 million in 2005.

The open source move has proven to be a winning formula for Android. In 2018 it had a 72.79% slice of the global market compared to iOS with 25.96%, according to NetMarketShare.

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T-Mobile G1 the world’s first Android smartphone
T-Mobile G1 (T-Mobile)

However, it wasn’t smooth sailing. Android has often been criticised for being too fragmented. Multiple versions of the operating system are in use. This makes it tricky for developers to make apps optimised for a wide range of handset types.

So the world’s first Android smartphone certainly created a legacy. Has anyone still got a T-Mobile G1 stuck in a drawer somewhere?

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