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First Android handset, the T-Mobile G1 by HTC, launched 11 years ago today

It’s hard to believe so much time has passed, but the T-Mobile G1, the first phone powered by Android, launched 11 years ago today.

The year was 2008.

The critically acclaimed television show, “Breaking Bad,” was just beginning its 5-season run on the small screen while the literary success, “Twilight,” jumped from the pages to the silver screen.

Michael Phelps, a young swimmer not many had heard of became one of the United States’ most awarded Olympic champions, breaking seven world records and crushing one Olympic record in the process.

Illinois state senator, Barack Obama, rode his optimistic “Yes We Can” slogan all the way to the White House, besting the now-late Vietnam War hero, John McCain, to become the nation’s first African American president.

Despite Apple’s best efforts, BlackBerry and their fabled BBM messaging platform were still king of the mobile device realm, even if only for a little longer.

Alongside the second generation iPhone 3G, Apple introduced the “App Store” and the “There’s an app for that” catchphrase that provided developers a stage to reach users en masse.

Finally, the yet-to-be-crowned most popular operating system in the world broke out onto the scene, professed itself as a worthy alternative to iOS, and engraved its name on the monument of mobile tech history.


The phone that started it all

The T-Mobile G1, manufactured by HTC, was the first device of its kind. In lieu of Apple’s walled garden ecosystem, the G1 debuted running Android 1.6 Donut, a new open source mobile operating system built on the foundation of customization, inclusion, and versatility.

The G1 included a handful of features that had since been exclusive to iPhone, including an intuitive touch screen with QWERTY keyboard, a mobile web browser, and mobile-optimized versions of some of Google’s most popular services, such as Google Maps with Street View, Gmail, and YouTube.

Although its advertised specs seem paltry by today’s steep standards, they were more than noteworthy in the heyday of feature phones:


Display3.2″ (~180 ppi density)
Storage256mb + SD card slot
ChipsetQualcomm MSM7201A 528 MHz ARM 11 + Adreno 130
Battery1150 mAh battery removable li-ion

If you’d like to see how well the T-Mobile G1 has held up over time, our very own Ryne Hager used it last year as his daily driver for an entire week. The results were entertaining.

Started from the bottom, now we’re here

Thanks in large part to T-Mobile, HTC, and Google for joining forces to introduce the anti-iPhone, Android currently powers 2.5 billion active devices, or 85% of all mobile marketshare, worldwide.

Not only does this metric make Android astronomically more popular than iPhone, but its active user base also exceeds that of the most popular PC operating system, Windows, by 60%, designating Android as the most widely used operating system on the planet, period.