All the way back on June 29th, 2009, a little company named Samsung released a phone just called Galaxy (with no "S") running Google's brand new Android operating system. The modern eye may scoff at both its dated specs and design, but the phone established a lineage second only in consumer recognition to the iPhone, kicking off ten years of Galaxy-series phones, and today is the anniversary.
The tiny device, with the model number GT-I7500, sported a 3.2" 320x480 AMOLED display, 528MHz single-core CPU, 128MB of RAM, 8GB of expandable storage, a 5MP camera, GSM/HSDPA support, and a 3.5mm headphone jack — that last detail was actually a major selling point in 2009, how times change.
The Galaxy, first of its name, also kicked off another Samsung tradition: slow/nonexistent software updates. It may have launched with Android Cupcake 1.5, but only some regions got an update to Donut 1.6 a year later, and no further official updates ever materialized (though third-party ROMs existed).
2010's bigger, faster Galaxy S may have done more to set the series' design language going forward, and it certainly came to more countries and consumer's pockets, but the original "S"-less Galaxy laid the foundations for a decade of best-selling Android phones.
The impact of the Galaxy line upon phone design can't be overstated. The Galaxy S saw dozens of variants pushed out in a frenzy of carrier rebadging, and the Galaxy S II which followed sold so many units that it bordered on a cultural icon — an icon that Verizon missed out on, opting for the Galaxy Nexus instead in a mistake it would never repeat.
Starting with the Galaxy S3, Samsung finally stuck with a unified design across carriers and began truly building the Galaxy series image in consumer's minds with a consistency it previously lacked. Some of the features Samsung brought to subsequent phones, like IP-rated water resistance, became fundamental requirements for flagship phones — though plenty of other features popularized by the Galaxy series never spread beyond them. The Galaxy Note series' active stylus may not have led to much mimicry, for example, but its big-screen design changed phone design permanently. Its 5.3" display is positively small by modern standards, and even factoring bezels into account, many popular modern phones have a larger footprint. Bloggers may have laughed back then, but the Note series turned into a runaway success.
For years, Samsung's Galaxy S series has traded blows with Apple for the #1 position on "best of" lists, and the Galaxy name itself has expanded far beyond phones to include tablets, wearables, and even headphones. While we all wait for word on Samsung's next Galaxy Note, it's nice to look back and reflect on how far things have come.