Innovation grows out of experimentation. New designs, new features, new hooks for potential customers can lead to awesome new devices, except when they don’t, because sometimes they won’t. Diversity has been a driving force behind Android’s rise to prominence, but it is a double-edged sword, because sometimes manufacturers produce really awful phones. We’ve already looked at the best Android phones of all time, now we turn our attention to the worst.
The 3.2-inch AMOLED concealed a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and the Moment featured a 3.2MP camera. Inside there was an 800MHz processor with 256MB of RAM. The specs weren’t that bad on paper for 2009, but the phone had some serious issues. Freezing randomly, crashing randomly, dropping calls, and a data lock up issue that Samsung and Sprint never solved.
A big chunky smartphone with an exposed keyboard, the Backflip’s design was odd. It also featured Backtrack, which was a touchpad on the back of the display. The keyboard was unresponsive and the touchpad was easy to accidentally touch. The screen was 3.1 inches with a 320×480 pixel resolution. Inside there was a lack of processing power, we’re talking a 528MHz Qualcomm processor and 256MB of RAM. That’s before you mention MotoBlur on top of Android 1.5.
You get what you pay for, and in the case of the budget Wildfire you got a 3.2-inch display with a 240×320 pixel resolution. Inside was a 528 MHz ARMv6 processor and 384 MB of RAM. It was cheap, but you can see why. The screen was enough to make your eyes bleed. It was slightly improved upon by the HTC Wildfire S, but neither phone was much fun to use.
Remember SatNavs? People used to pay a lot of money for them before Google gave it all away for free. Garmin obviously decided, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and so it engaged Asus to make an Android phone and then slapped a truly horrible interface on top of it. It was also ugly, had poor battery life, and a weak set of specs. The good news is – nobody bought it.
Another disastrous budget release, the Citrus had a 3-inch 240×320 pixel resolution display with the demented Backtrack touchpad for accidental scrolling. It wasn’t too speedy either, with a 528 MHz ARM 11 processor and 256 MB of RAM. Round it off with a 3MP camera and you’ve got a total turkey.
Rumors about a Facebook phone had been floating around for a while, but no one was prepared for something as disappointing as this. The ChaCha looked like a cheap BlackBerry and had a dedicated Facebook button to keep you hooked up and sharing at every available opportunity. Small screen, basic specs, and horrible name – this was a budget device for Facebook addicts only.
Entry-level can mean awful, and it did in the case of the Optimus V from LG. It was slow, it was packed with bloatware, it didn’t have a flash, the screen was poor, and the battery life was terrible. The reviews weren’t bad, but the user feedback was damning, with complaints about bad call quality, bugs, and that battery.
When you type “worst Android phone” into Google, Kyocera Echo pops up in the related searches list. Instead of going for a bigger touchscreen, Kyocera decided to include two 3.5-inch screens which could be slotted together, thanks to a weird hinge mechanism, to create one big 4.7-inch screen. The dual screen display could be used for tablet mode, but the big black border in the middle detracted from the effect. It also lacked apps to take advantage of the potential, it wasn’t packing enough processing power, and it came up woefully short in the battery department.
A 3-inch plastic display with a 240×320 pixel resolution in the summer of 2011 was not acceptable, even on an entry-level release. Needless to say the Dart was also underpowered, with a 600MHz processor under the hood. Even given away free on contract this phone was a terrible rip-off.
It may have had a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display and an 8MP camera, but it also had a 1GHz single core processor and atrocious battery life. Sluggish, buggy, and packed with bloatware, the Droid Charge was a flawed release and it was overpriced to boot.
For a brief period back in 2011 the 3D craze was going to conquer all. As it turned out most people didn’t really care about 3D all that much and they definitely didn’t want it on their phones. You can’t fault HTC for trying to find the next big thing, but you can fault them for making a chunky, gimmicky handset with a battery life problem.
Hot on the heels of the Evo 3D was LG’s Optimus 3D (also known as the Thrill 4G). Just like HTC’s 3D phone it was chunky and relied on a single gimmick that never took off. It combined an ugly interface, with an old version of Android, poor battery life, and lots of bloatware.
Another chunky flip open entry on the list, the DoubleTime had a 3.2-inch, 480×320 pixel screen on the outside and another one on the inside, alongside an amazingly ugly keyboard with pink highlights. Two bad screens don’t add up to one good one. The DoubleTime was also really slow (800 MHz Scorpion, 256MB RAM) and had a horrible 3.15MP camera.
It has not been easy to keep this list to a manageable size and we could go on and on. Instead we’ll wrap up with a few extra flops that almost made the cut. The Motorola Cliq and its successors were far from perfect. The HTC Rhyme was a patronizing attempt to court the girly market, complete with a purple flashing charm. The Samsung Continuum was another dual-screen dud. The LG Intuition was an incredibly angular attempt to compete with the Samsung Note (but is it really a phone?) The LG DoublePlay was yet another attempt at the dual-screen form factor. The LG G2X was buggy, the Motorola Droid Bionic was chunky and buggy, and the Sanyo Zio was cheap, slow and buggy.
Did we miss your worst Android phone? Post a comment and tell us what gets your vote and why.