The first Android phone, the HTC Dream, was released a year after the first iPhone and offered a full keyboard, a navigation ball and a number of physical buttons, all of which were popular at the time as it offered something familiar to phone users. However, it seems that the final design of this device was inspired by an internal concept from the Android team, who had envisioned a much more visually impressive phone that was never released.
Google designed an impressive phone for 2008, but never released it
The HTC Dream didn’t exactly offer an impressive design, even for 2008, and was more of a practical phone than an attention-grabber like the iPhone was at the time. Rich Miner, one of the co-founders of Android, however, released images of what the development team thought would be the first Android phone, called the Google G1.
It would have used curved glass on the front, more physical buttons, a scroll wheel, and a full green keyboard that matched the green accents on the rest of the case. Also, the Google logo would have been permanently printed on the front of the device.
All along we were working on 2 phones, Sooner, more blackberry-like & Dream, touchscreen based. After the iPhone launch we did cancel Sooner to focus on Dream (eventually the Google G1) but its design changed little from this rendering made 5 months before the iPhone launched. pic.twitter.com/lC8m0WolgE
– Rich Miner (@richminer) October 31, 2022
The HTC Dream, also known as the T-Mobile G1 in the US, paved the way for Android phones and served as the model for early devices, many of which came with scroll wheel or physical slider keyboards. Over time, however, they aligned more with Apple’s proposed design, with a large screen, navigation buttons at the bottom, and virtual on-screen keyboards instead of physical ones.
Prior to the Google G1 and HTC Dream concept, Android phones were inspired by BlackBerry, with QWERTY keyboards at the bottom, and landscape screens. These were abandoned as soon as Apple announced the iPhone, with its portrait-format screen and touchscreen.