A brief history of Android phones

Three years ago, the Android OS was just a buzzword. But quite a few handsets later, it's a powerful force. CNET takes a look back at all the Android goodness that has come.

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
8 min read

Almost three years after the birth of the T-Mobile G1, the world's first Android smartphone, we pause to take a look back at what the little green dude has given us. Sure, we've known that the OS has been very busy in the United States and around the world, but we really had no idea just how busy it was. And if we expanded the list beyond handsets not with U.S. carriers, it would be even longer.

Remember that it wasn't so long ago when Android was just a concept. And not long before that, the only android we knew was Data on "Star Trek." But now as its market share continues to grow and the OS has landed in the tablet space, Android has emerged as a powerhouse in the mobile space.

Editors' note: This list is current as of August 2, 2011. For brevity's sake, we've focused only on models previously or currently sold by U.S. carriers.

Phone Availability date Carrier Highlights OS version *
* At time of release  
T-Mobile G1
October 2008
T-Mobile First-ever Android device; had quirky design elements like the swing-out keyboard and the "chin" 1.0
T-Mobile MyTouch 3G
July 2009 T-Mobile First device with 1.5; debuted with Exchange support 1.5 (Cupcake)
HTC Hero
October 2009 Sprint First CDMA Android phone; offered HTC Sense interface 1.5
Samsung Moment
October 2009
Sprint First Android handset with a slider design; lacked camera-editing options 1.5
Motorola Cliq
October 2009 T-Mobile Debut of MotoBlur interface; first Motorola Android phone 1.5
Motorola Droid
October 2009
Verizon Wireless First Verizon Android device, and first appearance of Eclair 2.0 (Eclair)
HTC Droid Eris
November 2009
Verizon Wireless One of the earliest phones to offer pinch-to-zoom multitouch; first under $100 price point 1.5
Samsung Behold II
November 2009 T-Mobile Used Samsung's TouchWiz interface and offered new media player; not upgradable past OS 1.6 1.5
HTC Nexus One
January 2010
T-Mobile Sold unlocked through Google's direct sales channel; first Android 2.1 phone 2.1
Motorola Devour
February 2010 Verizon Wireless First device that debuted with Donut; called the Droid's "little brother" 1.6 (Donut)
Motorola Backflip
March 2010 AT&T First AT&T Android phone; had awkward design with "Backtrack" feature on rear side 1.5
Motorola Cliq XT
March 2010 T-Mobile Upgrade to the Cliq; replaced physical keyboard with virtual keyboard and Swype 1.5
HTC Droid Incredible
April 2010 Verizon Wireless "Blazingly fast" processor and loaded feature set; won CNET's Editors' Choice Award 2.1
LG Ally
May 2010 Verizon Wireless LG's Android debut in the United States; included LG Socialite app 2.1
HTC Evo 4G
June 2010 Sprint First 4G phone in the United States; offers a mobile hot-spot feature and HDMI port 2.1
MyTouch 3G Slide
June 2010 T-Mobile Update to original MyTouch 3G; featured T-Mobile's custom interface 2.1
June 2010 T-Mobile Robust GPS integration; much improved over its G60 predecessor 1.6
HTC Aria
June 2010 AT&T Based on HD Mini design; like most AT&T Android phones, it didn't permit third-party app downloads 2.1
Motorola Droid X
July 2010 Verizon Wireless Offered broad multimedia features and revamped MotoBlur interface 2.1
Motorola i1
July 2010 Nextel; Boost Mobile First Android device with iDEN, and first handset with a prepaid carrier 1.5
Samsung Vibrant
July 2010 T-Mobile Part of the Samsung Galaxy S series; came with a full-length copy of "Avatar" 2.1
Samsung Captivate
July 2010 AT&T Second Galaxy S phone; AT&T's best Android offering to date 2.1
Samsung Acclaim
July 2010 U.S. Cellular First Android device for U.S. Cellular; positioned as a budget model 2.1
Samsung Intercept
July 2010 Sprint Not compatible with Sprint's 4G network; positioned as a budget model 2.1
Motorola Droid 2
August 2010 Verizon Wireless Similar to the Droid X but with a physical keyboard; first device to ship with Froyo 2.2 (Froyo)
Samsung Epic 4G
August 2010 Sprint Only Galaxy S phone to have physical keyboard; featured Samsung's TouchWiz 3.0 interface 2.1
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10
August 2010 AT&T Sony Ericsson's first Android phone; featured company's Timescape feature and UXP interface 1.6
HTC Desire
August 2010 U.S. Cellular Based on the Nexus One design; second U.S. Cellular phone 2.1
Sanyo Zio
August 2010 Cricket Wireless First Android device for Sanyo/Kyocera and first for Cricket Wireless 1.6
Motorola Charm
September 2010 T-Mobile Featured a square design with a roomy keybaord but a small, crowded display 2.1
Samsung Fascinate
September 2010 Verizon Wireless Last Galaxy S series phone for "big four" carriers; features Bing search and maps 2.1
Dell Aero
September 2010 AT&T Dell's first Android phone, but that's about it 1.5
T-Mobile G2
October 2010 T-Mobile Update to original G1; first T-Mobile phone built for carrier's HSPA+ network 2.2
Samsung Transform
October 2010 Sprint First handset with Sprint ID feature 2.1
Sanyo Zio
October 2010 Sprint First Android device for Sanyo/Kyocera; features Sprint ID 2.1
Samsung Intercept
October 2010 Virgin Mobile First Virgin Mobile Android phone 2.1
Motorola Flipout
October 2010 AT&T Square design with swivel opening 2.1
Huawei Ascend
October 2010 Cricket Wireless; Metro PCS Huawei's first Android phone for the U.S. market; display has nine-panel grid design 2.1
HTC Wildfire
October 2010 Alltel Entry-level device with bargain price 2.1
Samsung Mesmerize
October 2010 U.S. Cellular Part of the Galaxy S series; featured Samsung's TouchWiz 3.0 interface 2.1
T-Mobile MyTouch 4G
November 2010 T-Mobile Next in MyTouch series; supports T-Mobile's HSPA+ network 2.2
LG Optimus T
November 2010 T-Mobile First handset in LG's entry-level Optimus series 2.2
Motorola Defy
November 2010 T-Mobile Rugged design; features revamped MotoBlur interface 2.1
LG Optimus S
November 2010 Sprint Sprint's Optimus model; features Sprint ID 2.2
Motorola Droid Pro
November 2010 Verizon Wireless Offers enhanced security features for business users and a mobile hot spot 2.2
Samsung Continuuim
November 2010 Verizon Wireless Part of the Galaxy S series; features a second "ticker" display 2.1
LG Vortex
November 2010 Verizon Wireless Part of the Optimus series; features Bing search and maps 2.2
Motorola Citrus
November 2010 Verizon Wireless A beginner Android devices; features Bing search and maps 2.1
Motorola Bravo
November 2010 AT&T Includes DLNA support; features revamped MotoBlur interface 2.1
Motorola Flipside
November 2010 AT&T Slider design with physical keyboard; features revamped MotoBlur interface 2.1
T-Mobile Comet
November 2010 T-Mobile Free with a two-year contract; available with prepaid plans 2.2
Motorola Droid 2 Global
November 2010 Verizon Wireless Similar to Droid 2, but with world-roaming capabilities 2.2
LG Apex
November 2010 U.S. Cellular Similar to Verizon's LG Ally; has a full physical keyboard 2.1
LG Optimus M
November 2010 MetroPCS First Android device for MetroPCS; part of the Optimus series 2.2
LG Optimus U
December 2010 U.S. Cellular Free with a two-year contract; part of the Optimus series 2.2
Samsung Nexus S
December 2010 T-Mobile Follow-up to Nexus One; delivers stock Android interface; sold unlocked; first device with Gingerbread 2.3 (Gingerbread)
HTC Evo Shift 4G
January 2011 Sprint Follow-up to the HTC Evo 4G; compact design but includes a physical keyboard; cheaper than Sprint's previous 4G phones 2.2
Motorola Cliq 2
January 2011 T-Mobile Update to the first Cliq; has a larger displayand a redesigned keyboard 2.2
LG Optimus V
February 2011 Virgin Mobile Yet another model in the Optimus line; competitively priced without a contract 2.2
HTC Inspire 4G
January 2011 AT&T-Mobile Offers a mobile hot spot and an excellent 8-megapixel camera; runs on the carrier's HSPA+ network 2.2
Samsung Galaxy Indulge
February 2011 MetroPCS Part of the Samsung Galaxy series; first Android phone for MetroPCS' LTE network 2.2
Samsung Galaxy S 4G
February 2011 T-Mobile Update to Samsung Vibrant but with a larger battery; supports T-Mobile's HSPA+ network 2.2
Motorola Atrix 4G
March 2011 AT&T Has a dual-core processor and support for the carrier's HSPA+ network; compatible with the Motorola Laptop Dock 2.2
HTC ThunderBolt
March 2011 Verizon Wireless Supports Verizon's 4G LTE network for incredible fast data speeds; can deliver simultaneous voice and data 2.2
Kyocera Echo
April 2011 Sprint Has two screens that can combine to form one 4.7-inch display 2.2
Samsung Gem
April 2011 U.S. Cellular Budget device with a compact design 2.2
Samsung Sidekick 4G
April 2011 T-Mobile Reinvents the Sidekick line with a familiar design and features; supports T-Mobile's HSPA+ network 2.2
Samsung Galaxy Prevail
April 2011 Boost Mobile Boost Mobile's second Android phone; minimal features in an agreeable design 2.2
T-Mobile G2X
April 2011 T-Mobile CNET Editor's Choice winner; has a dual-core processor; HSPA+ support and a sharp display 2.2
HTC Droid Incredible 2
April 2011 Verizon Wireless Update to Droid Incredible; offers world roaming 2.2
Casio G'zOne Commando
May 2011 Verizon Wireless Sports a rugged design and a suite of applications for outdoor enthusiasts. 2.2
Samsung Droid Charge
May 2011 Verizon Wireless A 4G LTE device with longer battery life than on the ThunderBolt. 2.2
Samsung Replenish
May 2011 Sprint Made from recycled and recyclable material. 2.2 Samsung Infuse 4G
May 2011 AT&T Marketed as the thinnest smartphone available in the U.S.; supports AT&T's "4G" network. 2.2 Samsung Nexus S 4G
May 2011 Sprint Sprint's version of the Nexus S adds WiMax support. 2.3 LG Phoenix
May 2011 AT&T Another model in the Optimus line, the Phoenix is an entry-level device. 2.2 LG Thrive
May 2011 AT&T The Thrive is identical to the Phoenix, though it's available only through AT&T's prepaid service. 2.2 Motorola Droid X2
May 2011 Verizon Wireless Features a qHD display and a dual-core processor for faster performance. 2.2 Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
May 2011 Verizon Wireless As Sony's long-awaited "PlayStation phone," the Xperia Play integrates a phone and a gaming device. 2.3 HTC Merge
June 2011 U.S. Cellular Includes a SIM card slot for international roaming; has a bulky design. 2.2 LG Revolution VS910
June 2011 Verizon Wireless Verizon's third LTE device has a great display and a 1GHz processor. Uses Bing instead of Google. 2.2 HTC Sensation 4G
June 2011 T-Mobile CNET Editors' Choice winner; offers a loaded feature set and excellent performance. 2.3 Pantech Crossover
June 2011 AT&T/td> You'll find a physical keyboard, but only entry-level features. 2.2 HTC Evo 3D
June 2011 Sprint Upgrade to the HTC Evo; features a glasses-free 3D display and can capture 3D photos and video. 2.3 Motorola XPRT
June 2011 Sprint Like the Droid Pro, it has a physical keyboard and enterprise-level security features. 2.2 Samsung Gravity Smart
June 2011 T-Mobile An update to the Gravity T, it offers a physical keyboard and a slider design. 2.2 Samsung Dart T499
June 2011 T-Mobile The definition of an entry-level smartphone, the Dart is free with service. 2.2 LG Genesis US760
July 2011 U.S. Cellular Based on the LG EnV series, the Genesis flips open to expose a full keyboard. 2.2 HTC Status
July 2011 AT&T The "Facebook phone" is hampered by a tiny landscape-oriented screen. 2.3 T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide
July 2011 T-Mobile Sports an 8-megapixel camera with impressive multimedia performance. 2.3 Motorola Droid 3
July 2011 Verizon Wireless Despite an improved keyboard, Gingerbread, a dual-core processor, and a better camera, it's not worth the upgrade. 2.3 Huawei M835 Ideos
July 2011 Sprint Runs stock Andorid and is affordable, but may be too small for some users. 2.2 Motorola Titanium
July 2011 Sprint Runs on the iDEN network; supports Nextel's Direct Connect, but lacks 3G. 2.1 Motorola Triumph
July 2011 Virgin Mobile With high-end features and zippy performance, it's Virgin Mobile's best Android phones to date. 2.2 Motorola Photon 4G
July 2011 Sprint Sprint's answer to the Moto Atrix, the Photon 4G offers just about every feature you'd want plus support for a number of accessories. 2.3