GiGadgets | GiGadgets | Phones that failed to live up to the hype

Phones that failed to live up to the hype
Do you still remember them?
Michelle Wang
By Michelle Wang
Dec 24, 2017

Most of phones are good both in terms of design and function, and widely accepted. Unfortunately, some failed to live up to market expectation although it was a lot of hype surrounding its release.

Check out those that made big splashes yet ended up with lackluster sales.

HTC First 

In 2003, HTC originated the idea of “integrating FaceBook with the mobile phone”, which grabbed massive attention from critics, consumers and media. The result is the HTC First with a host of built-in Facebook components. It sounds revolutionary though, HTC First got it completely wrong.

The device is equipped with stock Android system, and has demonstrated none of HTC’s characteristic attention to detail. It has no headset jack or Micro-USB charging port. This astonishing feature makes people wonder, “what are designers actually thinking? ” Some critics say it is “boring to behold”, “a forgettable handset”.

Another reason for this flop is the confusing Facebook Home interface. HTC First used social content from FaceBook account every where, making your phone page outburst with messages, which is pretty dumb.

HTC Thunderbolt

 Back in 2011, HTC Thunderbolt claimed as the first smartphone with built-in LTE. This was a great breakthrough then. However, the Thunderbolt turns out a failure because of its failure to strike a balance between maintaining long battery life and ensuring fast speed of data transmission. The device runs on the same EVO 4G as models of previous years, which means the battery was only 1400mAh. Therefore, the battery easily runs low when LTE is active. This probably drives users crazy. So why should people bother to try this?



The LG Chocolate released in 2006 with a ton of hype. It became a talk of the mobile world back then. It should have been awesome except for its S-class UI which requires a steep learning curve. The UI is what Chocolate stands out, yet its uniqueness also keeps customers away. More to the point is its poor streaming video quality, short talk-time battery life. What adds to users’ frustration is its lacking speakerphones.



Back in 2010, Google Nexus One was unveiled with much fanfare, and claimed as an “iPhone killer”. This phone was made by HTC, and sold unlocked, meaning customers can choose preferred carriers at their own will. However, its online sales was disrupted after two major carriers Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. announced that they would not sell the phone. What made it worse was that some online stores had removed the phone from their website. Google suffered revenue loss from this marketing strategy, like Google blog writes, “it’s clear that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone, and they also want a wide range of service plans to chose from. 


Putting this aside, the phone features an Android 2.1 system, 3.7-inch AMOLED display, and multi-touch functionalities. It was not a bad Android phone for sure. 


Amazon Fire Phone

Not satisfied with what it achieved with Kindle, Amazon took a bold step to launch the Fire phone. It made headlines with its novel Dynamic Perspective or Firefly scanning feature. But these gimmicky features alone wouldn’t make for a great phone. Many argued about the unintuitive Andriod interface, a limited app ecosystem design, poor battery life, and AT & T exclusive, along with device overheating issues, it is no surprise that the Fire phone sales stumbled. The company’s value proposition also contributes to the market failure. The phone was priced at $2oo, and reduced to $0.99 on contract after one month after the device was unveiled. Such a steep price drop might confuse consumers and also made the company suffer.


Nokia Lumia 

Nokia Lumia is a product of cooperation between Nokia and Microsoft, and later named as “Windows Lumia”. Prior to its launch, it once made a big splash among consumers and media. It comes with an awesome Windows system. Compared with Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS system, it totally gets rid of the traditional design as Android or iOS copycats, and makes it a revolutionary one. The phone inherits many merits of Nokia phones, especially in design. The UI is refined, control is smooth, and it runs faster than the Android system. We never see the failure coming. But what dents Microsoft and Nokia is Microsoft’s incompatibility with the third party apps. The result is its insurmountable app insufficiency, while these apps are easily available on an ordinary Android phone or iPhone.


Windows Phone Kin Series

Microsoft engineers may regret to have rolled the Kin series phones. Designed for teens and social networking addicts, it can hardly be called as a complete phone. The devices features social networking services, but has no apps or games. For networking addicts, it’s a big disappointment. What compounds the matter is its lack of cool factors and failure to make clear about their true strengths. Actually, it provides automated cloud backup, but it is never revealed in the ads.


Sumsung Galaxy Note 7

Opposite to the rest of the candidates on the list, the Note 7 had made a "blast" in the market. And yes, puns intended. This extensive exposure of this unforgivable error led to its dooming end. Samsung had recalled the majority of the three million Galaxy Note 7 phones sold worldwide, and halted production of Note 7 in the meantime. It was a substantial failure, although it packs so many great features inside.



iPhone 5C was one of Apple’s strategy to aim at mid-range phone market. What differentiates 5C from other iPhone series is its multiple color choice. The other features maintain almost the same as 5S except for its processor. But Apple compromised on its metal build, and chose the plastic instead. This change makes the phone feel inferior, totally lacking the Apple’s high quality. Perhaps due to the vague positioning of 5C, this phone hardly caters to group that should have been targeted at. The sales declined, and Apple halved its production.   



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