This story was originally published and last updated .
The very first Android phone, it has been long established, was the HTC G1/Dream. Or at least that's the conventional wisdom. While the G1 was the first Android smartphone ever sold, it wasn't the first built-for-Android smartphone. That honor goes to a prototype Google developed in house called the Sooner. The Sooner looks more like an old Blackberry—a far cry from even the original G1's touch and keyboard combo, and it doesn't even have a touchscreen. The version of the Android operating system it runs is also pretty radically different from what we eventually came to know as Android, and represents Google's earliest vision for a platform that would later come to dominate the mobile industry, helping put the final nails in the coffins of Blackberry OS, Windows Phone, and WebOS.
As you may have noticed, this post originally appeared on Android Police earlier in 2018. As much of the AP team is away for the holidays this week, we're showcasing some of our favorite posts of the year. Enjoy!
Going into this series, I hoped I’d get back to the T-Mobile G1/HTC Dream and be able to romantically wax about where Android came from. How the G1, though dated, still held up the promises made by Google's first Android effort back in 2008. Analytically, it's all true, but time has not been kind to the phone, and using it has made for a pretty rough week, even by my recent standards.
I've been working my way back through Google's Nexus line, re-examining older hardware and software for fun and profit. After the Nexus 5 and Galaxy Nexus, my every-other-phone cycle landed me on the Nexus One: the first Nexus smartphone. Never having used Android 2.3 Gingerbread or earlier full-time, I was curious to see what it would be like. So far as I can tell, the experience I missed out on is gone forever.
In what is partly an experiment and partly a series, I've been using the Galaxy Nexus as my personal phone exclusively for the last week. It has been a nostalgic experience, as the Galaxy Nexus was the first (good) Android device that I used full-time. And while the sentimental tech-romantic in me would love to tell you all that it's been mostly fine — like my week using the Nexus 5 — I can't. It's actually been pretty rough.
Android hardware has come a long way in the last five years, and as we come up on that Pixel time of year, I've been thinking back on earlier Android handsets and the path we've taken to get here. In a useful coincidence, I was convinced into using a Nexus 5 for a week as my only personal phone with no backup — I like to take that sort of risk once in a while. This time I was pleasantly surprised, the Nexus 5 has aged a lot better than I expected it to.
With the vast selection of pre-existing, inexpensive Android phones, Android Go and its worse-spec'd ~$100 handsets were quickly dismissed by many. To be honest, I shared the attitude, but I wanted to give the concept a fair shake before I shrugged it off as another well-intended but misguided effort on Google's part. So I willingly gave up all my fun flagships—my Pixels, OnePluses, Essential, etc.—and spent one calendar-precise month as a digital monk on the mountain, using only my Android Go-powered Alcatel 1X.
My opinion hasn't changed: Android Go is an overpriced, terrible experience.
How little can you spend on a phone in 2017 and still have a good experience? Companies like Lenovo-owned Motorola and BLU are pushing the envelope when it comes to the budget segment in the US. But, even a dated flagship can outcompete almost everything in the current entry-level market, and right now you can pick up one of 2016's most overlooked examples, the Nextbit Robin, for around $130 from Amazon. We think that deserves a second look.