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Looking back, what has been your most memorable Android device?

For this week's Friday Debate we take a trip back through memory lane. What's your favorite or most memorable Android device? What about your experiences with it made it so memorable?
October 10, 2014
Google Lawn Statues of Android versions

Generally with our Friday Debate topics we turn to the future or recent happenings to see what the team and our readers think. This week we want to do something a little bit different. It’s 2014, Android has evolved considerably and is about to take a major jump forward with Android L, so let’s take a trip back through memory lane.

For this week we discuss our past Android experiences. Out of all the Android devices you’ve had over the years, what do you have the most fond memories of? What about your experience with it made it so memorable?

Be sure to check out some of the near-novel sized responses from our team and then share your own experience in the comments!

Jonathan Feist

Please go grab some popcorn and a drink, I’ve got a novel for you! So far in my Android career, I cannot talk about my “most memorable Android device” without mentioning three devices. There is my first Android phone, my first Nexus device and, as it happens, the phone I have beside me right now.

Each of these devices have had a different impact on my life, partially due to form factor and partially due to capabilities. Aside from simply being memorable, these three devices, as a whole, have endured the majority of my experiences with Android, and formed my feelings on the OS.

Enough of all the talk, my devices are the LG Optimus One (P500), the Nexus 7 and the Motorola Moto G.

It was pure fluke that I got the P500, I was driving back home from a trip to Vancouver, BC, Canada, passing through the mountains listening to tech podcast on my HTC Touch, Windows Mobile phone. It was a hot day in the mountains and I made the mistake of letting the Touch sit in the sun for a bit. (Fun fact, my Google+ cover photo was taken that morning, just entering the mountains during sunrise.)

I still don’t know if it was just the backlight, or if the whole display called it quits that day, but I found myself pulling into the first Best Buy I could find, grabbing the first Android phone I could get with the $150 I had in my pocket. I knew all about Android the OS, but I had little concept of device brands, specs and performance at that time. I had recently had an LG flip phone, it was a good phone, so how could I go wrong?

The P500 came with Froyo, later to receive Gingerbread. Although, I had no idea there was an update for several months. I was, and still am, using Linux for my computers. It was not until I was setting up a Windows machine just to root the P500 that I connected LG’s software and found the update.

I’m talking too much, the P500 was my first device, I rocked it for a lot longer than I thought I would. It was never particularly awesome, but it was, and still is, solid and performs more than good enough to get through the basics. I still use it as a media player and hiking companion with offline maps and such. Its even got an early model 32GB microSD in it.

The Nexus 7 was my first tablet. I can never forget the day it arrived, almost exactly one month after Google I/O 2012. I got back from lunch to find it on my desk, happy times!!! Before I could open the box, my P500 rang, my brother had been in an automobile accident.

I rushed home, grabbed a couple things and made the 4 hour drive. I basically did the initial setup of the Nexus 7 in the hospital waiting room and spent most of the next week playing on it without data. My brother was mostly sedated for that time, I stayed hospital bedside as much as I could.

I then spent much of the next few months at my bro’s house helping out. If you were wondering, the worst of it was a broken leg, he is as fully recovered now as he’ll ever be with a pound and a half of titanium rods and screws holding things together, sounds bad, but he’s doing well. Anyway, during that time, the Nexus 7 became my main computer. I had a crappy work laptop along, but the Nexus 7 proved better and easier to use.

During this entire time, I was in the midst of my immigration from Canada to the U.S. My wife had already moved down, and the Nexus 7 became my single most used communication tool to bridge the distance. This is also why I am a Hangouts loyalist to the end. Thank you Google.

But wait, there’s more! The Nexus 7 had a few glitches to it, nothing I couldn’t live with, but a screen flicker developed and warranty became my only option. With just days to spare, talk about luck, I got my warranty approved and a replacement Nexus 7 was in the mail.

I did mention that I purchased the Nexus 7 from the Play Store in Canada, right? I didn’t mention that I had now moved to the U.S. – do you see the problem here? It cost me nearly $100 in shipping mishaps and several months to get the new unit shipped down and the dead unit back up to Google Canada. What a pain.

This, folks, is why I am rarely more than arms length from my Nexus 7, and why I carried it everywhere I went. At least until it developed a charging problem in recent weeks, but I’ll have more to say about later.

Now, that Moto G. It saved my life, twice! I’m kidding, completely kidding. There is no story here, I bought it while waiting for MWC-era flagships to start shipping this year, I figured I was going to buy something, but I got the Moto G to get through a couple months there.

The Moto G is the single most surprising device I’ve ever handled. The P500 wasn’t great, the Nexus 7 was awesome, but I expected that going in to each. I expected nothing great from the Moto G, but nine months later, I am still using it and loving it. I am still writing the story that is the Moto G – so far, it is one of dependability and no-nonsense Android.

There you have it, you now know that I am all but incapable of having a single favorite of anything, and that I am part of the ~10% still keeping Gingerbread alive.

Robert Triggs

I suppose my most memorable Android smartphone was also my first – the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. Although the poor thing died an early death due to constant overheating, it was the handset that sparked my interest in smartphones. Although not always for the right reasons.

From what I remember, the handset shipped with Android 1.6, Donut, and spent most of its days running Éclair. I recall eagerly waiting for the much promised Gingerbread update, reading into issues with the screen’s multi-touch support, and sighing at the weird Timescape UI. I ended up turning to CyanogenMod to cure my impatience and software frustrations. The first time jitters associated with rooting, flashing, and potentially bricking my phone seem silly looking back on it.

From there the X10 became almost an entirely new phone and a trusty traveling companion on long train journeys up and down the country post-university. Root accessed allowed me to pair up the phone with a PlayStation 3 controller, and I passed many an hour playing classic N64 and SNES games on my journeys.

In what now seems like a comical scenario of nerd meets girl, a young lady sat next to me one time remarked that she ”didn’t know you could do that”. I spared her the tedious details, but was happy to help whittle away at the stops with a few rounds of Mario Kart. Boredom and technology can be a wonderful opening to new conversation starters.

Sadly the phone didn’t last long after that, and was replaced by my trusty Galaxy S2. Although the S2 has been on many more journeys and bailed me out of more than a few missed turnings driving through foreign lands, I don’t think any device will surpass the curiosity nurtured by my Xperia X10.

Joseph Hindy

My most fond memory of an Android device dates back to late 2012. It was cold outside, a little snowy but inside the house was comfortable and warm. There were Christmas decorations up and I was toiling away in my dungeon working on some stuff for Android Authority and XDA (I used to work XDA back then).

I had an HTC EVO 4G LTE back then (and that would be the short answer to the question. The EVO 4G LTE was an amazing phone). It was HTC Developer unlocked but as any HTC owner can tell you, it just doesn’t feel the same as full on S-Off. Sure you can make do but it just doesn’t feel as free.

At that time someone had just come out with a brand new S-Off method that worked even with the latest bootloader. Being the debonair phone flasher back then, I took it upon myself to help with this little piece of development. Perhaps I could find a bug and help them fix it? Who knew! The night was young, after all. My girlfriend had gone to sleep and there twasn’t a stir in the house.

Logged into my green/black, Terminal-themed IRC client (and connected to the EVO 4G LTE room), I began my quest. I was required to be in Linux and thankfully I was dual booting with Ubuntu back then. I read over the instructions twice then began to follow them.

The first 10 minutes went rather smoothly. Things were installing as planned. Downloads were downloading as planned. We were joking with one another in the IRC channel. It seemed like this was going to be a smooth process that finally gave me S-Off.

I was wrong, of course, but I didn’t know it yet.

So part of this process was to literally kill off the HTC EVO 4G LTE. I mean dead and gone. If I remember correctly, you were to hard brick the phone and access the Qualcomm bootloader (it may have been something else, the memory is a bit hazy). You then flashed an S-Off HTC bootloader and from that point, reflash all of the device’s software on each partition.

This was the kind of scary thrill I actually miss quite a bit in Android modding. The very real danger that this could actually break my phone permanently. It’s probably why I’m not into the hardcore rooting scene anymore because there’s no advanced user risk anymore…but I digress.

Without a fourth thought (my second and third thoughts were spent re-reading the instructions), I entered the command to brick my phone.

My HTC EVO 4G LTE was dead.

This was the critical moment. I had to enter another command to connect to the device’s internal bootloader (or whatever it was, again, sorry, fuzzy on the exact details) and flash the HTC Bootloader back on again.

I entered the command. Nothing happened.

A string of vulgar words came flowing from my mouth as I began to internally troubleshoot what went wrong. The “geniuses” in the IRC channel were of no help and were simply laughing at the prospect of me intentionally (and permanently) bricking my brand new, $600 smartphone. They were jackasses but in hindsight I probably would’ve laughed too.

The 45 minutes would be spent reading through the original thread, installing various packages and drivers via sudo apt-get install in the terminal, and looking wistfully over at my phone which sad cold and dead (the thing wouldn’t even charge…not that it was consuming any battery anyway).

Every time I installed something, I checked to see if the command worked. It did not.

Dammit! Now it was off the world wide web since the XDA thread, the IRC channel, and every developer I knew were either too busy laughing at me or recommending solutions I had already tried.

I was everywhere for the next 4 hours. Ubuntu forums, Debian forums, Linux forums, Stack Overflow (for some reason), and even (at one point) Yahoo! Answers. Yeah that’s how bad it was. I was installing crap I’d never even heard of before because other people had other devices that had similar kinda stuff going on. Really, I was pulling the software equivalent of flailing away in the deep end of the pool because I couldn’t swim.

I took a break after that. A good long one. I sat down and played some Halo for a bit to clear my head. It was around 3AM and I was starting to get a tad fatigued but I wasn’t going to bed without fixing this.

I sat back down and was at it for about another 2 hours when I finally typed the right combination of words into Google and found a forum post from (not kidding) 1997.

The young man had one forum post where he was unable to connect his Qualcomm Blah-de-Blah (some development board with a lot of letters and numbers that I don’t remember) and was looking for a solution. It was a thread with no answers. Just the dude asking the question. So I Google’d the exact question he had and saw that he posted the thread three times on three different forums. The second yielded no results.

The third one did. It was one line and all it was a sudo apt-get install command to install something I’d never heard of before. I Google’d the thing I was supposed to be downloading and it was one of the earliest drivers Qualcomm ever made for Linux. We’re talking mid 1990’s here, folks.

I installed the driver and tried the command. Wait, what? It was connecting! Phone was found.

Cautiously optimistic, I re-opened the original thread and started following the instructions again. Flashed the new bootloader. The charging light came back on. I hit the requisite buttons to boot into the bootloader. The bootloader loaded. It was S-Off as promised.

I then reflashed the device software and manually flashed a custom recovery. This process took about 3/4 of an hour because I was doing it over a terminal and had to do it over ADB.

By 7AM, my EVO LTE was back up and running. I flashed a custom ROM and, for the first time, a custom kernel.

Success was mine! I immediately took my 7 hours of fear and frustration and condensed them into a post on the original thread detailing my experience. I have no idea if it helped anyone and a month later, a more stable (and automated) S-Off process was achieved.

But I’ll never forget that night. It was a lot of fun and reminds me why I got into Android to begin with.