Five years of Android, five landmark devices

Android has just turned five – here are five products that have helped define Google’s OS

Android was first revealed five years ago today, so we thought we’d take a stroll through the past half-decade, looking at five products that have defined Google’s mobile OS.

As we said in our review back in May 2009, the HTC Magic was a real game-changer: the first great Android phone and the possessor of a fantastic touchscreen. A quick glance down the specs list shows us how far Android phones have come since: the screen is 320 x 480, the camera is a mere 3.2MP and there’s just 512MB of built-in storage – but for its time it was a top class smartphone.

HTC Magic

Until the Xoom, Android tablets used a “blown up” version of the smartphone software, leading to them being buggier than a spider’s web after “flying ant day”. But Motorola’s 10.1-inch slate rocked Android 3.0 Honeycomb, a version of the OS designed specifically with tablets in mind. While not quite as smooth a customer as the first-gen iPad, the Xoom had a sharper 1280 x 800 screen, twin cameras and multitasking, making it the first Android slate to offer up a decent alternative to Apple.

OK, so it’s not a device per se, but in our opinion Ice Cream Sandwich is the version of Android that made it a true “mobile ecosystem” (ugh, sorry about that). Offering a unified user interface across both smartphones and tablets, along with a great big pile of new features (including the ability to take screenshots!), it remains a slick platform for any mobile device.

Motorola Xoom

Combining stunning form with immense power and a stack of features longer than a basketball player’s arm, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is the first Android phone to be, in our opinion, better than its closest Apple rival (in this case, the iPhone 5). This handset has put down a marker by which high end smartphones should be judged.

The Nexus 10 is Google’s latest tablet, and its first to really challenge the might of the full size iPad. And challenge it does: for a piffling £319 (the cheapest iPad is £80 more), it offers a sharper-than-Retina-Display screen, speedy dual-core processor and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. The build quality is fantastic too. It’s enough to tempt away many a would-be iPad 4 purchaser...

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Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Samsung Galaxy S3

Google Nexus 10