Looking at the calendar it occurs to me that it is already 2015 — over five years since I got my first Android phone. So much has happened in that space of time, more than one could be expected to remember. The Android Market saw a name change, and grew from a meager selection of apps to an entertainment behemoth. Manufacturers have been bought, sold, and gone out of business. Android as a platform has grown larger than we could have ever imagined, landing on everything from tablets and phones to watches and refrigerators.
Since 2010, I’ve written over 6,500 posts covering it all. That number astonishes me because I can’t recall doing that much work. As they say, it’s not work if you love what you are doing. So today is bittersweet. Today I am moving on from writing for Phandroid. Cry. Cheer. Feel indifferent. That’s totally up to you, but I want to say thanks to all who have read even one of my posts, listened to me blabber on the Mobile Roar Podcast, or taken to the comments to call me an iPhone fanboi.
I’ve got some fun adventures planned; if you care to follow (and I can’t promise I will be talking much tech), find me on Twitter and Instagram. Otherwise I’d like to leave you with a quick trip down memory lane. Here are some of the stories I’ve enjoyed covering the most — the ones that changed the way I think of tech and led me to this place. Please feel free to share your own in the comments below!
1) The Motorola Droid arrives
In the fall of 2009, Verizon subscribers were itching for an answer to the AT&T-exclusive iPhone, and Motorola was eager to give it to them in the form of the Droid. Arguably the handset that put Android on the map, this smartphone’s impact was felt far and wide, and established the Droid as a brand more recognizable than the operating system it ran.
The Droid was followed by countless iterations and updates and lives on today with Verizon’s Droid turbo, but it is that first generation, the so-called OG, that really set Android down its path to dominance. The launch was the first of several major Android devices and spurred the rise of the platform as a viable competitor to Apple’s iOS ecosystem.
For me, it’s personal. I was one of those Verizon customers yearning for the iPhone, but smartphone options were limited at the time and a family plan made switching carriers a hassle for me. I took home the Droid during launch week, and it’s my excitement for that device that brought me to Phandroid as a reader, eventually leading to a gig writing for this very site. It’s been five years, and the Droid is a distant memory, but it’s impact lives on.
2) Samsung’s legacy begin with the Galaxy S…
Less than a year after the Droid hit the scene, Samsung was gearing up to launch a device that would perhaps have an equal impact on the Android world. The Galaxy S launched in the summer of 2010, and despite a slightly awkward rollout with carrier-branded variants (Samsung has thankfully improved on this), it was a major hit. Six iterations later we have arrived at the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. In the meantime, Samsung has become one of the most dominant forces not only in the Android ecosystem but in the mobile industry, as well.
For me, the Samsung Galaxy S launch in New York City was one of the first press events I attended as a blogger with Phandroid, and it was one of the best despite all the crazy announcements from manufacturers far and wide in the years that followed. Samsung threw a badass party with music from B.O.B., and I had the chance to meet a ton of cool people in the tech industry.
I’ve never used a Samsung device as a daily driver, but I’ve had the chance to review nearly every Galaxy S device known to man. It’s been amazing to see the company grow and hone their Android craft.
3) …then there was the Galaxy Nexus
The Nexus One was a first for Google. The Nexus S was a first for Samsung. The Galaxy Nexus was a first for many. Much like the Droid, it was the first of Google’s Nexus devices to become available to Verizon customers, but it also marked the first time Android fans could get their hands on the highly-anticipated Ice Cream Sandwich platform update.
The Galaxy Nexus was not among the best-received Nexus devices. Critics and consumers had mixed feelings about the handset, particularly regarding battery life. I’ve included the Galaxy Nexus rather than the Nexus One or Nexus S for personal reasons. Still tied to Verizon, this is the phone that pried that Droid workhorse out of my hands, and I continued using it well beyond the point that most gave up on the phone.
4) Motorola goes Google (then Lenovo)
While the Droid launched Android into the stratosphere, Motorola fell behind the pack in later years. A string of ambitious devices experimenting with form factor and other features mostly flopped for consumers, and the company fell on some hard times. Mostly in pursuit of patents (but perhaps a slight sense of obligation), Google officially acquired Moto in 2012.
The following years represented a bit of a renaissance for the maker of the Droid. The company’s smartphone offerings went back to basics, and emphasized core Android features paired with customizable design in the form of the Moto X. Low-cost offerings like the Moto G gave Moto a foothold in emerging markets, and the company was able to begin its rebound from their downward trajectory.
While Google sold Motorola to Lenovo in 2014 (while maintaining ownership of a majority of patents and some projects like Project ARA), Moto’s course has not changed. In fact, things seem better than ever. I’m rooting for them with every last ounce of energy remaining in the worn-down Droid that still sits on my shelf among other pieces of tech from year’s past.
5) iPhone 5 envy
Steve Jobs made it very clear that the iPhone would never have a screen larger than 3.7-inches. Then the iPhone 5 launched. Possibly the most meaningful iPhone update ever, the iPhone 5 showed that Apple had started taking the Android threat seriously, and they needed to update their devices to hold par with devices featuring larger displays with higher resolutions.
But here’s the thing…this whole story started with me getting a Droid as an alternative to the iPhone I really wanted (because Verizon). And I did fall in love with that Droid and Android, but the iPhone 5 was simply too tempting. It was time to venture to the dark side. So I did. I got an iPhone 5. I even had a stint writing for our iOS sister-site iSource. But I came back to Phandroid, and I have been back and forth with my smartphone of choice ever since.
I do find the iPhone a great daily driver. I do understand that isn’t the opinion of everyone (especially most of our readers here). But I have had the chance to play with so many awesome Android devices over the past few years — extended periods using some of the best Android phones on the market. I’ve had the opportunity to experience the best of both worlds, and you really can’t beat that.