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What Android looked like before iPhone saved it

Published Mar 20th, 2020 7:31AM EDT
iPhone vs. Android
Image: quietbits/Shutterstock

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  • Google’s original Sooner Android prototype appeared on eBay, with someone selling a bunch of devices.
  • This Android prototype predates the iPhone and looks just like the BlackBerry devices that were sold in stores at the time.
  • Google immediately scraped the design and re-engineered Android to mimic the iPhone rather than BlackBerry, once Apple unveiled the original iPhone.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

One of the biggest battles in tech is iPhone vs. Android, with each side having raving fans ready to defend their favorite smartphone over any criticism. The truth is that it doesn’t really matter which smartphone you get these days. They’re all nearly the same, featuring various versions of “all-screen” designs, and offer fast access to the same sort of apps, games, and entertainment. And it’s all possible thanks to the increased competition between Apple and Google when it comes to the operating system, and between all smartphone vendors when it comes to hardware and design improvements. But there’s no denying that it’s the iPhone that started the smartphone revolution more than a decade ago and that Google was the first to realize what was happening and adapted Android to compete against the iPhone long before other rivals did. And the following images will show you exactly how Android phones looked like before iPhone saved them.

The world’s first Android phone was the HTC Dream, launched on T-Mobile as the G1 in September 2008, but that wasn’t really the design that Google had in mind for Android. Google wanted Android to be an alternative to BlackBerry, which made, at the time, the only smartphones that mattered.

Image source: eBay

These devices were larger than regular phones, featuring a bigger non-touch screen and a much bigger keyboard, a slimmed-down version of the keyboard you were already using on computers. And that’s what Google’s first Android prototype looked like.

Image source: eBay

However, Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPhone in early 2007, a device that featured a touchscreen display and no physical keyboard. As soon as that happened, Google realized that it had to dump the BlackBerry-style device and Android OS version, and pivot to a phone design that included a large, touchscreen display, which would serve as the primary way to interact with the phone.

Image source: eBay

You may have heard this story before, and you may have seen the renders and early images of Android. But, if you need more convincing, the photos above and below show you exactly how this Android device looked like. Google actually manufactured this prototype. But, thankfully, it never got around to launching it.

Image source: eBay

Someone got a hold of the HTC-made Android “Sooner,” which was the codename for the handset, and listed it on eBay for $200. The box includes all the accessories, although it’s not likely the phone will work. The sale has ended, however, but you still get to see what Android would have looked like if it wasn’t for the iPhone.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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