Phones have been around for a pretty long time. Mobile phones, while not as long, have also been around for key times in human history. The term “smartphone” has been in use for more than 20 years. However, many would argue that the first modern smartphone emerged a little more than a decade ago when Apple unveiled the original iPhone. Google’s Android was released not long after, and since then, we’ve seen countless smartphones released to the public.
This article aims to bring you the lowest of the low in the world of phone technology. In its real sense, smartphones have different ratings depending on who’s calling, but these devices are undoubtedly horrible. When making a list of truly bad devices, obscure budget phones from little-known brands may objectively be the worst smartphones of all time, so I won’t list them here because they are easy pickings. Instead, this article is focused more on spectacular failures from the biggest brands that will no doubt leave you saying, “what were they thinking?”
Well, kick this list off with a device that came out when touchscreen smartphones really started to take off. The smartphone giant RIM, which had dominated the world with the BlackBerry range, decided to make their own addition to the touch party. Unfortunately, it failed horribly with a rushed, poorly designed, ill-thought-out stinker of a smartphone. This phone (the BlackBerry Storm) had an incredibly laggy clickable screen, terrible battery life, and dated software; worst of all, it lacked Wi-Fi support in an age where wifi was revolutionary. As a result, a large chunk of the one million BlackBerry Storm phones sold in 2008 was returned, and it was dubbed the “Shit Storm” by RIM employees.
When devices had dedicated network providers, the HTC Thunderbolt was the first real 4G smartphone with LTE support to land on Verizon. Pretty sweet deal, right? No, it wasn’t. The hype behind the device soon gave way to angry customers. The launch of the device was pushed forward, and when it did come out, it had a myriad of problems way beyond the limited availability of LTE networks. The device sported a crappy battery with horrible life, the phone also had a habit of restarting itself at random, and software updates were painfully slow to come. This device is easily one of the most hated Android flagships ever released.
Motorola Droid Bionic
This terrible device was announced at CES in January 2011 and didn’t land until eight months later. Even with the heavy delays that were supposed to allow for improvements, the favorably- reviewed, hump-backed Droid Bionic failed to please owners. It was the first dual-core 4G LTE phone, but it sadly featured a dull, PenTile LCD screen, a slow camera, and disappointing battery life. Throw in MotoBlur (one of the worst Android manufacturers skins ever created) and a smattering of random crashes and lag, and you have a very unpopular device. The terrible customer support for the expensive “Lapdock” accessory, which turned the Bionic into a wee laptop like the Atrix before it, didn’t help.
Amazon Fire Phone
After creating a few good tablets, Amazon decided it was time to conquer the smartphone market, but for some reason, it abandoned the budget approach that had served it so well. The device gave completely ordinary specs, poor battery life, a dull design with typical Amazon build quality, and sluggish performance at a flagship price all turned out to be bad ideas. The device sported the Fire OS was Amazon’s forked version of Android. The OS had zero support for Google apps, along with a host of other top Android apps. Amazon tried to compensate by including a gimmicky 3D effect without an obvious purpose and a special Firefly mode in the camera to allowed you to point at real-world objects and identify them – but only if they were available to buy on Amazon. Three months after the release of this device, azon went back after being forced to admit defeat and accept a $170 million loss
Samsung Galaxy Note 7
The original note series wasn’t that well-acclaimed, but bigger phones were quick to catch on, and each new iteration sold better than the last. The Note 7 was off to a great start during its release As it was a beautifully designed powerhouse of a phone with special S Pen stylus support. The device managed to get outstanding reviews. It was a great device until a handful of devices spontaneously exploded or burst into flames out of the blue. Regardless of how good it was, a flaming phone isn’t what people paid for. The device faces a global recall as a faulty battery capable of causing explosions is not something you can ignore.
Microsoft Kin One
This device was a tiny phone that can’t really be described as a smartphone. It was a sad experiment during the rise of smartphones, and Microsoft spent more than two years and $1 billion on these sliding social phones that no one wanted to buy. Ouch
This device was a strange Android BlackBerry fusion, visually. Although it came with the largely unwanted dedicated Facebook button, the horrendously named HTC ChaCha was a cringe-worthy release that proved that no one really wants a Facebook phone. This device was followed by the HTC First a year later, which launched Facebook’s widely disliked Home user interface.
HTC Evo 3D
HTC is known for its unrelenting drive to innovate. However, this can backfire as I list yet another phone from the Taiwanese manufacturer. The HTC Evo 3D, which had dual cameras long before it was cool, but in this case, they were for shooting 3D videos that no one would ever watch. Sad.