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We asked, you told us: This was the worst year in smartphone history

There have been plenty of bad years for smartphones, but which one did you think was the worst?

Published onJuly 27, 2020

HUAWEI Mate 30 Pro front

There have been quite a few good years in the smartphone industry, with 2014 being cited as arguably the best year. It’s easy to see why, with the Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3, and HTCOne M8 all being released in the same year.

What about the worst years for the industry though? We could definitely think of a few disappointing or even bad years for smartphones. Was there any particular year that stood out above (or below) the rest?

Well, we recently turned to you folks to find out which year was the absolute worst, and there was definitely one winner.

What was the worst year for modern smartphones?

The Worst Year in Smartphone History


Almost a third of the 2,229 votes went to 2019 as being the worst year in smartphone history, making for the “winner” by a big margin. We totally understand if you think there’s some recency bias in here, but there are plenty of reasons to vote for 2019.

For one, this was the year when Huawei was placed on the US government’s Entity List, resulting in the loss of Google support. This meant that most subsequent phones and tablets didn’t have Google Mobile Services. This was also the year of the first foldables (at least from major brands Samsung and HUAWEI), but the Galaxy Fold‘s original launch was delayed due to last-minute defects, while the lack of foldable glass made durability an issue. It didn’t hurt that foldables across the board were expensive.

Read: These 6 budget phones are the best OnePlus Nord alternatives

2019 also saw Google and Samsung faltering in some ways with the Pixel 4 series and vanilla Galaxy Note 10 respectively. The Pixel 4 series offered smaller batteries (at least in the standard model), no fingerprint scanners, and gimmicky Motion Sense tech. It also missed out on the increasingly popular ultra-wide camera. Meanwhile, Samsung’s vanilla Galaxy Note 10 lacked a big battery, a headphone port, and microSD expansion, but had a crazy $950 price tag.

2016 was in second place, owing to the Galaxy Note 7 disaster, brands starting to ditch the 3.5mm port, and the dud that was the LG G5. It was a tie for third place between 2010 and 2015. The latter was my pick, and for many reasons. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 processor disappointed, LG phones started boot-looping, the Galaxy S6 traded plenty of functionality for a new design, and HTCstarted its downward spiral.

Finally, the “other” pick accounted for just over 6% of the votes. Readers left comments pointing to years such as 2020 and 2017. For what it’s worth, we thought about including 2020 as a pick on its own but decided against it as the year isn’t over yet.

Here’s what you had to say

  • Pedro Santiago: 2017 when Apple decided to charge $1000 for a phone.
  • Miku Ivalice: As a “savvy” consumer looking to upgrade, 2015 was pretty rough. I was already waiting months for the 810, and then the reviews came in about 810 phones experiencing overheating, throttling, and poor battery lives. Not content to go with Apple that left my only real choice to go Samsung with Exynos which was not the ideal upgrade I was hoping for. 2020 has been a great year for me. I got the LG V60 and I love it to death its so awesome.
  • Gianluca Di Maggio: 2018 cause that was when those stupid Notches started to get used more and more. Or was that 2017?
  • Djanta: 2020 is shaping up to be the worst year in smartphone history!
  • Ng Wai Leong: 2019 is not a failure year. There were many innovations happened.
  • Rob Geeson: For me, 2016 was the best year when the Xiaomi Mi Max was launched.. and 2019 was the worst year, when the series got cancelled.
  • C.J. Brown: 2016 = the end of NEXUS smartphones (but practically every year has a ‘this sucked’ moment).

That about wraps up this article. Thank you once again for the votes and comments. And you can let us know what you thought of this result in the comments below!


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