Not every phone is a winner, but most of the “losers” aren’t historically bad. Some of them are, though. There are phones that stand out amid the hundreds of mainstream Android devices that have been released as being truly, exceptionally bad. After scouring the internet, reading reviews, and recalling my own long history reviewing phones, here are the 5 worst Android phones that have ever been released.
There was a lot of hype surrounding the launch of Verizon’s first real 4G LTE device in early 2011. Oh, the carrier had released a few LTE hotspots before the Thunderbolt came to town, but this was the first smartphone with LTE built-in. It turned out to be a little too early for LTE to invade smartphones. While the network was really fast in those days with so few people using it, the phone itself was as slow as a drunken snail.
The Thunderbolt was woefully under-powered, running basically the same hardware as the EVO 4G that came out the previous year. The device itself was larger to accommodate the dedicated LTE modem, but the battery was only 1400mAh—even smaller than the EVO’s cell. The result was abysmal battery life when LTE was active, which it always was. Verizon didn’t include any way to disable the LTE radio.
To say people didn’t like the Thunderbolt would be an understatement. It was widely loathed.
Motorola announced two phones in late 2009, which was still very early in the history of Android. One was the hugely successful Motorola Droid, and the other was the unsuccessful Motorola Cliq. For some reason, Motorola used this device as the basis for several other phones in early 2010 that didn’t sell well, but the Backflip stands out as a uniquely horrible one.
The Backflip had a backward-folding keyboard that was exposed on the rear of the phone when it was closed. It was just as uncomfortable to use as you’d imagine. The software wasn’t any better, either. Motorola was using hardware identical to the first few Android phones, but with a much heavier software layer. It was based on Android 1.5, and included a ton of social network plug-ins and widgets all over the home screen and settings.
The one thing that takes the Backflip from just bad to one of the worst is the way search was handled. There was no Google search on this phone—AT&T and Motorola made Yahoo the exclusive search provider on the Backflip. Google doesn’t allow OEMs to do that anymore, thankfully.