What were your top smartphones of 2010-2019?

ACE_350

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It’s been an interesting decade to see how phones progressed. I thought this would be a good opportunity to see what everyone’s favorite smartphones were of the decade. There’s really no wrong answer here, just either the ones you used or saw that really impressed you for some particular reason.

for me I’d have to say,

For Apple, the original iPhone 4 at the time was downright amazing. Stainless steel and glass with the first real high resolution display. I loved this phone and when I had one, not only did it feel like a tool for everyday life, but it really felt high quality.

also for Apple, the iPhone 5 in slate black was amazing as well. I wish they brought that color back. And then finally, I’m going to say the iPhone Plus series. Even if it was a little big, it ran iOS so good on such a nice large display at the time. My daily driver is still a iPhone 8 Plus.

for Android, my favorite was definitely the 2013 Moto X. At the time I loved smaller phones, and I loved that Motorola was doing something different. The shape of the phone and contoured design was really good, and I loved the active display and how it did notifications.

The Nexus 6 was also great. Pure android on a 6 inch screen made by Motorola back before Lenovo bought them out. Just a pure powerhouse.

those are some of the top of my head. What about you guys?
 

Zepher

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I had the iPhone 4S, 5S, and the still use an iPhone SE.
 

CHANG3D

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HTC One (M7) that everyone including Apple ripped off from with numerous uninformed tech writers claiming HTC later devices somehow ripped off from Apple when this phone predates Apple’s redesigned iPhone. This is probably the biggest design influence device of the decade.

other mentions:
Pixel 3 XL (nightsight)
Essential Phone (only after it became cheap)
iPhone X (made everyone do a display cutout to make a device feel like it’s more screen)
iPhone 11 (somehow the budget flagship device of the year 2019, hurting Android OEMs where it matters the most)
 
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Galaxy S7 then my current S9. They've just been solid phones for me all around, especially the S9. I could take or leave the curved edge glass in trade for some better durability but I will say they do make the phone look sharp. And finally, getting rid of physical buttons for haptic on screen buttons with the S9 was a move I had absolutely convinced myself I would hate with a burning passion but now...on screen buttons FTW.

And I hope I don't jynx myself saying this but the S9 I have now is 4 payments away from being paid off and I haven't broken the screen yet like the last half dozen phones I've had. Either the glass/tech is getting better or I've finally found a case that can stand up to me because stupid shit tends to happen to my phones (knock on wood).
 
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Aurelius

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iPhone 4: The Retina Display, the Dieter Rams-style design, FaceTime... it arguably set the pace for phones in the 2010s.

Galaxy Nexus: The battery life and camera performance were so-so, but damn if that screen wasn't an eye-catcher. It was also a peek at what Android would look like for the next few years.

One M7: The "ultrapixel" camera might have been overhyped, but this was an example of top-tier phone design that didn't just riff on someone else.

Moto X: The customization and Motorola's overall Android aesthetic (which largely persists to this day) really made it a treat to use.

iPhone 7: Yeah, it looks like the iPhone 6 and 6s, but it introduced world-beating haptic feedback, surprisingly rich stereo speakers and generally made the iPhone a workhorse that could do a lot very well.

Galaxy S8: For playing a large role in the nearly-all-screen movement.

Google Pixel 2: Flaws aside, this showed Google at its best: using AI and the cloud to do things that are difficult with hardware alone. It's notable that it took a couple of years for everyone to catch up.

iPhone X: For basically dictating phone design for the last two years between the notched display, its gesture interface and face authentication. I have an iPhone XS and it still feels like a premium, high-performance phone where many phones grow obsolete quickly.

iPhone 11: This managed to turn the "entry" flagship category on its ear by delivering outstanding camera quality, performance and battery life at a price more people can actually justify. Arguably a better pick than a OnePlus 7 Pro for many people simply because it has the overall advantage (camera, battery, water resistance, software support).
 

CHANG3D

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iPhone 4: The Retina Display, the Dieter Rams-style design, FaceTime... it arguably set the pace for phones in the 2010s.

Galaxy Nexus: The battery life and camera performance were so-so, but damn if that screen wasn't an eye-catcher. It was also a peek at what Android would look like for the next few years.

One M7: The "ultrapixel" camera might have been overhyped, but this was an example of top-tier phone design that didn't just riff on someone else.

Moto X: The customization and Motorola's overall Android aesthetic (which largely persists to this day) really made it a treat to use.

iPhone 7: Yeah, it looks like the iPhone 6 and 6s, but it introduced world-beating haptic feedback, surprisingly rich stereo speakers and generally made the iPhone a workhorse that could do a lot very well.

Galaxy S8: For playing a large role in the nearly-all-screen movement.

Google Pixel 2: Flaws aside, this showed Google at its best: using AI and the cloud to do things that are difficult with hardware alone. It's notable that it took a couple of years for everyone to catch up.

iPhone X: For basically dictating phone design for the last two years between the notched display, its gesture interface and face authentication. I have an iPhone XS and it still feels like a premium, high-performance phone where many phones grow obsolete quickly.

iPhone 11: This managed to turn the "entry" flagship category on its ear by delivering outstanding camera quality, performance and battery life at a price more people can actually justify. Arguably a better pick than a OnePlus 7 Pro for many people simply because it has the overall advantage (camera, battery, water resistance, software support).
you’re welcome...
 

N4CR

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No love for the groundbreaking SGS2? First one with decent power under the hood and a massive modding community to boot. Last mostly secure Android hardware too IIRC (aside from the baseband hack in every damn phone ever).
Bias here as I'm an audio guy but LG V10 has served many here well too.
 

CHANG3D

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Yeah, I realized there was some overlap. Sorry about that! But I really have used all of those phones to various degrees.
no problems man. You know how we’ve been accused of being “lovers” right? May the haptic force be with you always! Haha!
 

Aurelius

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No love for the groundbreaking SGS2? First one with decent power under the hood and a massive modding community to boot. Last mostly secure Android hardware too IIRC (aside from the baseband hack in every damn phone ever).
Bias here as I'm an audio guy but LG V10 has served many here well too.

Oh, it was a great phone in some ways, and might deserve to be on the short list. I suspect it's not getting much acclaim for a few reasons, though.

First: it was the quintessential example of US carriers having too much control over devices. Remember how each big carrier had its own SII variant in a desperate bid to claim it had an "exclusive?" I still cringe when I realize Sprint insisted on naming its phone "Galaxy S II, Epic 4G Touch." That and the SII was the height of Samsung's Apple envy, where it straight-up copied hardware and software design cues (there are even documents showing how it studied Apple's UI elements) in hopes of luring iPhone buyers. Samsung at the time was particularly bad about emulating competitors instead of forging its own path... see the BlackJack as an example.
 

N4CR

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Oh, it was a great phone in some ways, and might deserve to be on the short list. I suspect it's not getting much acclaim for a few reasons, though.

First: it was the quintessential example of US carriers having too much control over devices. Remember how each big carrier had its own SII variant in a desperate bid to claim it had an "exclusive?" I still cringe when I realize Sprint insisted on naming its phone "Galaxy S II, Epic 4G Touch." That and the SII was the height of Samsung's Apple envy, where it straight-up copied hardware and software design cues (there are even documents showing how it studied Apple's UI elements) in hopes of luring iPhone buyers. Samsung at the time was particularly bad about emulating competitors instead of forging its own path... see the BlackJack as an example.
Great points and yes it was very appleish in those ways.
Wasn't aware of carrier versions they don't do that shit here thankfully (well one does it in reverse sometimes) but it's typically not a thing, luckily. What a shitshow for you American users, would leave a sour taste in my mouth too.
 

DrLobotomy

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Nokia 521 Windows Phone. Still in use. Still the best phone ever. ..l..
 

Aurelius

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Great points and yes it was very appleish in those ways.
Wasn't aware of carrier versions they don't do that shit here thankfully (well one does it in reverse sometimes) but it's typically not a thing, luckily. What a shitshow for you American users, would leave a sour taste in my mouth too.

I'm Canadian so it was a bit better (you could actually get the standard SII from a carrier here), but in the US... yuck. Different screens, different button layouts, different processors. I'm glad that Samsung had enough clout to force everyone to carry the same, official SIII in North America, because that would've otherwise been a nightmare.
 
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N4CR

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Different screens, different button layouts, different processors. I'm glad that Samsung had enough clout to force everyone to carry the same, official SIII in North America, because that would've otherwise been a nightmare.

Different screens? That's just insane.. heard of different CPUs in some other markets but not in a single country via carrier. What a fucking mess. Glad to hear they stopped that because A) drives up costs and B) makes support and troubleshooting a nightmare C) modding would be a PITA.
 

The Lurker

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Out of all the phones I had, the top? Nokia Lumia 950. It was and probably still is the most innovative phone(s) of the decade after the iPhone. It should have pushed the next wave of devices and how we interact with them but Billy boy drop the ball.

We had a few Android phones and my wife had two iPhones and all of them have been basically the same thing from generation to generatoin.
 

Vermillion

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Nexus 5 - greatest Nexus of them all
OnePlus One - game changer
OnePlus 6T - truly a flagship killer
Pixel line of phones - it's a Pixel. Can't go wrong with one.
iPhone X - was finally an iPhone that I felt was worth the wife upgrading to. Her XR is pretty good and I'm about to move her to an 11.
Galaxy Note line of phones - Note 7 not included but the Note line of phones has always been incredibly good for what they are.
 

DooLocsta

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Nexus S
Galaxy S 2
Galaxy S 3
Note 4
Note 7 (No issues but they did replace it twice before sending me the S7 Edge)
Galaxy S7 Edge
Note 8
 
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Aurelius

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Nexus S
Galaxy S 2
Galaxy S 3
Note 4
Note 7 (No issues but they did replace it twice before sending me the S7 Edge)
Galaxy S7 Edge
Note 8

The Note 7 also doubled as a handy incendiary grenade!

Also, I don't think I've seen someone who was quite that loyal to Samsung phones. Not that it's unimaginable, but many of the people I know who've had them have also flirted with other brands at various points.
 

OFaceSIG

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I loved all my Nexus' up to the 6p. I thought the Pixels were way overpriced until the 3a. My wife and stepson have them and it's a great phone for the money. I've had good luck with the moto G series. We've had various versions from the G5-G7 and they've all been solid phones for the money. I personally have had a OnePlus 5T for a couple years now. More expensive than the 3a or G series Moto, but a really great phone for the price.
 

DooLocsta

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The Note 7 also doubled as a handy incendiary grenade!

Also, I don't think I've seen someone who was quite that loyal to Samsung phones. Not that it's unimaginable, but many of the people I know who've had them have also flirted with other brands at various points.

I had an original iPhone and at one point in there tried the iPhone 3G or whatever and just didn't like being tied to iTunes for everything. Samsung just worked for me I guess, never gave me much issue. I also had an LG G2 before the Note 4 but I didn't like it that much TBH.
 
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kirbyrj

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Top: Pixel 3a, Pixel OG, Xperia Play, LG G2, Galaxy S8
Bottom: Nexus 5X, Galaxy S5, Pixel 2XL
 

grasshoppa

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Favorite phone of the decade would have to be the Pixel 2. So much so that I've been tempted to trade in my 3 and get a 2 XL. That phone was rock solid, well behaved, did everything perfectly.

Least favorite was the blackberry. Forced to carry it for work, was painfully antiquated at a time with the original generations of the android phones floating around.
 
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Aurelius

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Favorite phone of the decade would have to be the Pixel 2. So much so that I've been tempted to trade in my 3 and get a 2 XL. That phone was rock solid, well behaved, did everything perfectly.

Least favorite was the blackberry. Forced to carry it for work, was painfully antiquated at a time with the original generations of the android phones floating around.

I wouldn't consider BlackBerrys phones of the decade by any stretch, but I did have an irrational attachment to a few of them. The Bold 9900 in a sense felt like the ultimate expression of, well, BlackBerryness. Well-built, good keyboard, touchscreen... if you liked hardware keyboards, it was your jam in 2011. The main issue, of course, was that it was using an ancient platform designed for a kind of user (the "I just want my emails and texts" businessperson) that was quickly going away.

I also have soft spots for some of the Android-based BlackBerrys, like the Priv and KeyOne/KeyTwo. It's nice to have a modern OS but still court those people who prefer physical keys. The Priv would be my pick because you could use it as a nice full-touch Android phone until you wanted the keyboard.
 

lightsout

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I loved flashing ROMs with Android back in the day.

Got the Galaxy Nexus on launch day, Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 also. Had a lot of fun with them.

Now I'm on an iPhone 11 and this thing is just great. Sweet camera and amazing battery. Took it off the charger at 7 am yesterday and went to bed at 10pm at 70%.

Never had a phone with this type of battery.
 

TMCM

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I miss the little track ball on my HTC Hero. That was a sweet little phone
 

T4rd

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HTC One M8 was the best phone I had in the 6-7 phones I've had the past 10 years now. Would love a modern take on that design, IR blaster still included as well, as I miss that from phones of that generation and aren't sure why they stopped using them
 

AltTabbins

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iPhone 4 - First Retina display and first phone display I was amazed by. It wasn’t the biggest display at the time but it was far and away the nicest.

Nexus 5 - The last true Nexus phone. After that they lost the battle of rising phone costs. It was the first Android phone I really wanted. Sadly I never owned one.
 

Jandor

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I owned a Nokia N8. Still using it. Nest smartphone ever.
I'm looking for something that good with 4G on Android. So I want less than 5'' screen, very good network reception. I had zero bars on a iPhone4, 6s or 7, while I could call and be called on my Nokia N8, and I had bars on a Samsung (tested several Galaxy S something probably S6) but couldn't call or be called (tested on same SIM and same position). I want better than 12MP camera with real pixels you could count, not some blurry stuff with artifacts. I compared the Nokia N8 photos with the results of my Nikon D90 DSLR (on raw) with a high end lens, and the picture was more detailed on my Nokia, at the pixel level on all the image including corners. In fact I need a triple 3 optics camera, one for around 24mm DSLR, one for around 50mm DSLR and one for 100mmDSLR with some Zeiss optics (produced by them like on old Nokias) and on 48MP sensors they seem to be common nowadays. The resulting image is poor despite those sensors on the Smartphone brands of today because they only care about providing specs on paper.Also need good mic with good anti-noise and a good speaker. I also need the screen to be seen in bright sun, meaning AMOLED screen and anti-sun filters like on the Nokia N8, and small (I'm used to put my smartphone in my trousers pocket without been noticed. Not sure but Sony may come with a new compact model of that kind.
Also, no chinese brand. I can't afford to be spied on.
 

Aurelius

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I owned a Nokia N8. Still using it. Nest smartphone ever.
I'm looking for something that good with 4G on Android. So I want less than 5'' screen, very good network reception. I had zero bars on a iPhone4, 6s or 7, while I could call and be called on my Nokia N8, and I had bars on a Samsung (tested several Galaxy S something probably S6) but couldn't call or be called (tested on same SIM and same position). I want better than 12MP camera with real pixels you could count, not some blurry stuff with artifacts. I compared the Nokia N8 photos with the results of my Nikon D90 DSLR (on raw) with a high end lens, and the picture was more detailed on my Nokia, at the pixel level on all the image including corners. In fact I need a triple 3 optics camera, one for around 24mm DSLR, one for around 50mm DSLR and one for 100mmDSLR with some Zeiss optics (produced by them like on old Nokias) and on 48MP sensors they seem to be common nowadays. The resulting image is poor despite those sensors on the Smartphone brands of today because they only care about providing specs on paper.Also need good mic with good anti-noise and a good speaker. I also need the screen to be seen in bright sun, meaning AMOLED screen and anti-sun filters like on the Nokia N8, and small (I'm used to put my smartphone in my trousers pocket without been noticed. Not sure but Sony may come with a new compact model of that kind.
Also, no chinese brand. I can't afford to be spied on.

I think you may need to poke your head out and look at the modern phone landscape, because things have changed and may be closer to what you want than you expect.

First: forget about a screen smaller than 5 inches. Not just because the phone market has largely passed it by (please don't expect them to "see the light" and revert), but because phones make much more efficient use of their real estate.

On the photography front... well, you might have a tough time finding a phone from a non-Chinese company with a long zoom. And it's a shame you limited yourself to Android, since it seems like the iPhone 11 Pro largely checks the boxes (Deep Fusion in particular is aimed at providing that low-level sharpness you're after). Maybe the upcoming Galaxy S20, if Samsung has learned a lesson about its image processing?

Also: how the hell do you manage to survive on a Symbian phone in 2020? That OS was unstable and quirky in 2010, let alone a decade later.
 

Jandor

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iPhone is a pain for VOIP SIP. I need to buy some other plan to receive the calls on Apple own push system. Nothing like that on Symbian (own software G729 included) and on Android by using Zoiper Premium+G729 (don't need Push and battery consumption minimum when on wifi and okay for a day on 3/4G). The photos thing is a problem since companies like Sony avoid to use their camera technology in phones. Nokia is nothing left from what it was. It's some kind of chinese manufacturing refurbished with Nokia name. However they kind of prefer to use US designed chips (Qualcomm) which is good and they imported all the servers managing the data on the phones in Finland (it has been discovered that China was trying to spy on people with the previous settings ruled in China). Also LG is of kind of poor quality but high technology and cheap, but they don't do good camera phones since LG G6. Samsung has good camera part, but has a huge problem on their phones with receiving the network. They claim their DAS is among the lowest but you can see that on the poor sensiviity. And Apple kind of competes with Samsung on that part even if the DAS is much higher. In fact now that Apple has bought the modems from Intel they have the clumsiest chips and technology for that matter and probably willing to replace all Qualcomm's with it.
So I just hope LG comes back to good cameras, Samsung antenna gets better, Sony finally makes a good smartphone camera up to what Minolta would have made, and all with radio FM and 3.5 jack all together as small as possible. I definitely prefer what Sony does for their new smartphones, having 6'' but as large as older 16/9 5'', but Sony 1 has no radio FM, no jack, no notification led (I won't buy a smartphone without those 3) and it costs 1000$.
 

matt167

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Nokia lumia 635 for sure. Until Microsoft dropped Phone os support.

My current $35 Alcatel does what i need. Ive tried to bring myself to buy a premium phone but $35 does what i want. Something IP68 might be my future since im a mechanic. I break the ports to the point they barely charge.
 

dmdtobe

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I've had the iPhone 5, Google Nexus 5, iPhone 6, Google Nexus 6, iPhone X, and now the iPhone 11 Pro. I doubt I'm ever going back to Android, especially not after the absolute dud that was the Nexus 6. I was always pretty open to jumping between platforms, but now that I'm a professional it just isn't worth the headache.
 

Jandor

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I've had the iPhone 5, Google Nexus 5, iPhone 6, Google Nexus 6, iPhone X, and now the iPhone 11 Pro. I doubt I'm ever going back to Android, especially not after the absolute dud that was the Nexus 6. I was always pretty open to jumping between platforms, but now that I'm a professional it just isn't worth the headache.
Problem still is the VOIP thing which works with no problem on Symbian and Android. And this is my professional phone. iPhone needs a double support for PUSH by the provider of the App + the VOIP SIP plan, which may effectively eat less battery but it's been tested and it drops a couple of rings before your iPhone rings which is just unacceptable.
Also about the previous post, Windows Phone was even worse on this. Microsoft put everything in place against any App to support SIP because they believed everybody will go blindly with their Skype product and plan... but in that case Microsoft did everything legal to avoid the portability of the phone number, that they were keeping in case you wanted to change company..
So there is why I prefer Android. But yes : iPhone camera is what I'd like by today standards and this is a good point. But also the bad reception of the iPhone is another huge problem (probably one of the worst sensitivity on market), completely unacceptable at this price. Since I'm using a Macbook Pro laptop I would have really liked to have the iphones working out those issues. Still watching what's new at Apple. There may be an iPhone SE2 coming with probably some revised stuff, maybe a better modem, better antenna... who knows.
 
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