Technology moves so quickly that it's easy to lose sight of just how amazing stand-out devices were in their heyday. Before you've had a chance to eulogize a great gadget, it's either listed on eBay or Craigslist, or it's halfway to the recycling center. Time for the next big thing.
And here we are with some new great gadgets. Actually, we're at a pretty special inflection point this month: the new Moto X and the iPhone 6 / 6 Plus — both of which are being released in just a matter of days — could be the best smartphones ever made, period. (Or they could be terrible, I suppose, but the odds of that seem perishingly small.) Thing is, the smartphone industry is generally on its A-game lately, which made me think: what phone was so much better than the competition at the time of its release that it could be considered the greatest smartphone of all time?
Many would give that honor to the original iPhone, and for good reasons
Many would give that honor to the original iPhone, and for very good reasons: capacitive multitouch; compelling design; the use of metal; the fast, fluid operating system; so on. (Some would also argue the first iPhone wasn't a smartphone since it didn't have the App Store yet, but I've moved on from that tiff.)
For me, though, the honor goes to the mighty Nokia N95. This little brick was announced in late September of 2006 — eight years ago! — and it was basically unstoppable. Symbian was still a major threat at the time. The trick slider moved in two directions, revealing a keypad in one direction and dedicated music controls in the other. It had 3G, integrated GPS, Wi-Fi, and a 3.5mm headphone jack at a time when none of those features were guaranteed. And the incredible camera, 5 megapixels with autofocus, was light years beyond everything else on the market. The N95 was the first phone I owned where I said, "I could carry this instead of a point-and-shoot," and actually believed myself.
Basically, it trounced everything in those heady pre-iPhone days. (By the time it reached the US with North American 3G support a year later, admittedly, the iPhone was out and starting to pick up steam — but the N95's camera was still worlds better.)
This isn't about my opinion, though: what phone do you hold head and shoulders beyond every other that was ever released? Which should be bronzed and put in some sort of smartphone hall of fame?