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Worst phone ever? Team AA reveals their handset horror stories
We’ve been through many smartphones here at Android Authority — it comes with the territory. Some have been great, some have been bad.
But how bad can it get? We asked our AA staff to recall their worst smartphone experiences of all time, highlighting the best ones below. We tried to stay clear of low-end smartphones because, let’s face it, most ultra-cheap Android devices were awful for the longest time.
HTC leads the pack
One of the more interesting tidbits from the poll was how HTC surfaced three times. This could be due the sheer bad luck of our staff, HTC’s fault, or its early popularity magnifying bad smartphone experiences. It’s still rather interesting.
More specifically, Oliver Cragg‘s worst experience was the HTC One M9.
“Imagine following the HTC One M8 (one of the most beautiful and best smartphones ever made) with a buggy, derivative phone that had an unforgivably bad camera,” Oliver explains.
“I had it for six months before it stopped accepting any kind of network — a blessing in disguise. I’ve used HTCphones since (the 10 and U11 were both solid), but the M9 was a disaster.”
Sticking with HTC, our SoundGuys colleague Lily Katz particularly disliked with 2012’s Droid DNA. “There was constant screen flickering and sporadic reboots that weren’t remedied by multiple factory resets. Not cute,” Lily said.
Going back even further, Jimmy Westenberg pointed to 2010’s HTCDesire, but his experience wasn’t as bad as you might expect. His only major complaint was the storage space — a common issue during this era.
“I could pretty much only use the stock HTCapps — the 4GB of storage didn’t allow for much wiggle room. I got used to living my life with a ‘low storage’ notification, which was annoying,” Jimmy recalled. “Other than that, the phone was great! No iPhone killer, but I still have good memories with it.”
HUAWEI makes two appearances
Chinese brand Huawei surfaced twice. The manufacturer is massive in Europe, China, and emerging markets, so it shouldn’t be surprising someone had a bad experience.
Scott Adam Gordon generally had a good experience with his phones, but says the HUAWEI P10 sits atop the pile for worst smartphone experiences. It’s a stark contrast to the HUAWEI P20, which has been praised by us and other outlets.
“They’ve all been great, but my worst experience has been with my current daily driver, the HUAWEI P10. The rear cameras have an autofocus problem that will cost money to fix (I don’t have a warranty),” said Scott.
“The shots are blurry unless I take them in black and white. Google Photos will forever remember this as the film noir period of my life.”
Meanwhile, AA and DroneRush‘s Jonathan Feist mentions the HUAWEI Nexus 6P as his worst smartphone experience to date. It’s no surprise —the phone’s various issues have been well publicized.
“It was a perfectly good phone for the first while, but then the issues started. First the battery would die anywhere below 50 percent, giving me less than two hours of screen-on-time per charge,” Jonathan says.
“Then the dreaded boot loop killed it. To date, this is the only phone I have ever had that is no longer operational.”
Did your old phone make the list?
Robert Triggs recalled his experience with the Xperia X10, back when Sony Mobile was Sony Ericsson.
“The Timescape UI was an overly complex, stuttering mess that got in the way more than it helped. Worse still, the Snapdragon S1 CPU developed an overheating problem after a year or so that kept rebooting the phone. I haven’t let a rubbish Android Donut experience put me off Sony, although I haven’t owned an Xperia since.”
Meanwhile, the OPPO R11 (pictured above) was the source of Tristan Rayner‘s frustration.
“The hardware wasn’t awful, but it came without an oleophobic coating, copied iPhone-style anti-Android notifications and had a poor skin,” said Tristan.
“Add to that very little third-party support from the likes of LineageOS because it didn’t sell well enough, plus OPPO moved across to the R11s, meaning it’s a phone no one wants and it can’t be re-sold easily either.”
Samsung only showed up once in our poll, with C. Scott Brown‘s worst experience being his Galaxy S6 (above). The device saw Samsung attempt to take on Apple for design prowess, but that’s not why it landed on our list.
“I hate TouchWiz/Samsung Experience with a fiery passion. I bought the S6 planning to flash CyanogenMod, but Sammy/AT&T locked the bootloader, leaving me with only module options. I returned it after only a few weeks and got the Nexus 6P instead. CyanogenMod was up and running in a few minutes.”
Xiaomi‘s Mi Mix 2 gave Adam Doud his worst experience, partly because of the expectations tied to a high-end device.
“This is a flagship-level phone but the camera was below average in almost every way — very disappointing. It also had a weird bug where it wouldn’t accept group SMS messages, which, for a suburban dad, is an automatic deal breaker.”
If I had to pick my own worst experience, I’d choose 2009’s Nokia N900 (though it’s probably a toss up between it and the Lumia 950). On the plus side, it had a slideout QWERTY keyboard, 32GB of storage, powerful Maemo OS, FM transmitter, video-out, and could run the Debian distribution of Linux. But it lacked WhatsApp, used a Linux-style app repository system, offered a resistive touchscreen, and wasn’t meant to be used in portrait orientation.
Did the experience deter them from the brand?
One rather interesting figure was that just over 30 percent of our staff said their terrible smartphone experience soured them on the brand. It’s a tiny sample size of course — we only had roughly a dozen responses in total.
Nevertheless, this is potentially good news for companies that produced recent stinkers — maybe people are as willing to overlook a misstep as most of our staff. Most of these brands are more recognizable though, so who knows whether users would be kind to unknown manufacturers.
What was your worst smartphone experience? Did you jump ship to a different brand afterwards? Let us know in the comments section!