The most hyped phone launches ever (pictures)

The iPhone is coming -- again! Check out the most hyped -- but not always successful -- phone launches ever.

James Martin
James Martin is the Managing Editor of Photography at CNET. His photos capture technology's impact on society - from the widening wealth gap in San Francisco, to the European refugee crisis and Rwanda's efforts to improve health care. From the technology pioneers of Google and Facebook, photographing Apple's Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Google's Sundar Pichai, to the most groundbreaking launches at Apple and NASA, his is a dream job for any documentary photography and journalist with a love for technology. Exhibited widely, syndicated and reprinted thousands of times over the years, James follows the people and places behind the technology changing our world, bringing their stories and ideas to life.
James Martin
1 of 11 Shop Le Monde

An iPhone is coming...

According to the forever churning Apple rumor mill, a new iPhone is coming.

Apple is widely expected to unveil the iPhone 5S on September 10, and rumored technical specs have been pouring in leading up to the supposed event. Now, it's up to Apple to either top expectations or debunk the flood of iPhone 5S rumors.

In the age of the never ending tech news cycle, it can take a lot to get -- and hold -- the consumer's attention. From free food and drinks, to giveaways, skydivers, Tony Bennett and the Foo Fighters, we've seen it all.

With an iPhone release right around the corner (maybe), here are a few of the most hyped phone launches in recent history. And although they came with much fanfare, some were truly spectacular failures.

2 of 11 Apple

The original iPhone

Apple's iPhone set the bar for all smartphones to come. The first generation iPhone was announced on January 9, 2007, after months of speculation. Apple redefined the phone -- putting a computer into each of our pockets, building an app empire, and launching a mobile computing craze that continues today.

The iPhone was hyped for months leading up to the launch. Did it live up to the stratospheric expectations? Not so much.

Citing a host of missing features, a dependency on a sluggish EDGE network, and variable call quality -- it was a phone after all -- the CNET Reviews team was left wanting more. For these reasons, CNET called the iPhone "noteworthy not for what it does, but how it does it."

3 of 11 CNET

Motorola Razr

With the public perceiving its phones as dull and uninteresting, Motorola needed a hit. When it launched the Razr in 2004, it finally had one.

A thin, stylish device that seemed to spur the imagination, the Razr soon became one of the best-selling -- and "coolest" -- phones in the world. In the pre-iPhone era, the Razr, which initially cost $500, was seen as a stylish accessory owned by those on the cutting edge. Its advertising ushered in a new era of marketing for Motorola, and the company has since sought to tie its mobile phones to a cool, hip sensibility.

4 of 11 James Martin/CNET

Microsoft Kin

Microsoft's Kin was one of the most short-lived gadgets in recent history, staying on shelves less than two months before being discontinued by the software giant. The phone was designed as something in between a smartphone and a feature phone, but critics and consumers alike panned its pricey data plan.

Microsoft served waffles at the launch and laid on a heavy marketing push, getting the Kin in TV shows and other media. But it was a bust. Instead, the Ballmer gang focused development on Windows Phone 7, which hit store shelves earlier this month.

5 of 11 Josh Miller/CNET

Blackberry Z10

The Blackberry Z10 was supposed to anchor the company while it prepared to reinvent itself. Compared to other launches in this gallery, the Z10 made a relatively quiet debut on AT&T. Blackberry did manage to work in a refresh of its operating system, Blackberry 10. The phone helped return the company to profitability, but analysts noted that sales representatives appeared ill prepared to sell the phone.

6 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung's Galaxy S4

Samsung's Galaxy S4 launch event drew huge numbers, with fanfare and a marketing blitz on the scale of Apple and the coveted iPhone. CNET Reviews dubbed the S4 the "everything phone for (almost) everyone." The question now: can Apple keep up?
7 of 11 Stephen Shankland/CNET

T-Mobile G1

The first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1 built by HTC had five hardware buttons, a trackball, and a slide-out physical keyboard. Today, the vast majority of Android phones are touch screens with virtual keyboards.

Prior to the release, nobody knew just what Google was up to. There was a chance that Google, a software company, was going to be moving into hardware by making its own phones, but in the end, the G1 was the start of something much, much bigger -- it was the first appearance of the Android operating system, which has since grown to become a dominant player in mobile.
8 of 11 CNET/Sarah Tew

Palm Pre

The Palm Pre, launched in 2009, was the fastest selling phone in Sprint's history. The phone was the first to use Palm's Linux based mobile operating system, webOS.

The Palm Pre had excellent multitasking capabilities and notifications systems along with a vibrant display with multitouch functionality as well as a solid Web browser and good multimedia integration.
9 of 11 Josh Miller/CNET

Motorola Droid

Launched on October 28, 2009, the original Motorola Droid was a smartphone touted as a true competition to the iPhone, incessantly marketed with the phrase "Droid Does" -- showing off all the features that differentiated it from Apple's iPhone. The Droid was the most powerful and fastest Google Android device to date, fully embracing the openness of the Android platform.
10 of 11 Josh Miller/CNET

HTC First

The HTC First debuted in April 2013 as the much hyped "Facebook Phone," and it was a rousing disappointment. It was too much Facebook and not enough of everything else.

The most notable thing about the HTC First was that it shipped with Facebook Home already installed, a start screen replacement that draws you directly into the center of your Facebook world. With a mid-range camera and lack of a removable battery and microSD slot, the First is a forgettable handset.

11 of 11 Kyocera

Kyocera Echo

Launched in New York during a grand David Blaine spectacle, the Kyocera Echo was Sprint's re-imagined phone. The unique, double screen design wasn't very advanced, though. Launched in February 2011, the phone was killed off in October of the same year.

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