Key Takeaways

  • Smartphone market diversity in 2014 laid the foundation for today’s tech giants, despite many of the innovators no longer existing.
  • Even with groundbreaking innovations, companies must adapt to changing market trends to succeed in the long run.
  • Apple’s success with the iPhone 6 series highlights the importance of knowing when to integrate new technologies for market success.

As the renowned English poet William Blake once said, “hindsight is a wonderful thing,” and this phrase holds true not only for various aspects of our lives but also for technology and, yes, even smartphones. It was a very different playground for smartphones a decade ago. In the year 2014, smartphone innovation was at its peak and, in fact, there were many more smartphone makers in the market compared to now.

But, if you see it in hindsight, the innovations that were introduced a decade ago have laid the foundation for the tech we enjoy today. In the past ten years, we’ve witnessed so many smartphones and even new categories of consumer technology emerge, but, as it turns out, 2014 was a very crucial year for smartphones. We took a trip down memory lane and revisited the best smartphones from a decade ago, only to discover a bittersweet truth.

Smartphone market was more diverse back then

Back in 2014, the smartphone market was very competitive. Unlike today, in 2024, we find only a handful of flagship makers, especially in the US. However, back then, it was a different story altogether. Nokia, Blackberry, HTC, LG, and Sony were prominent players, while OnePlus had just launched its first-ever smartphone, the OnePlus One. There were a lot of smartphone options on the market.

Nokia focused on Windows Phone, while Blackberry remained a favorite among business professionals. Apple continued to lead the pack in quality, while Samsung pushed boundaries with innovations like stylus-equipped phones, curved screens, and top-notch cameras. HTC made our favorite smartphone of all time, while companies like LG and Sony were also not far behind. Competition was fierce, to say the least.

All innovators are now (or are on the brink of) being dead

However, as the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end.” Today, many of the smartphone brands mentioned above cease to exist. But what went wrong? What can we learn from their fate? But before we delve into all of this, let’s first revisit what these companies were up to back then.

At the time, Motorola had just introduced its Moto X (2nd Gen) — a device that was all about offering a stock-like Android experience on the inside and offering hardware-level customization on the outside. Motorola had its Moto Maker website (via XDA-Developers) wherein you could go and customize your Moto X down to the last detail. You could customize the color of your phone to the type of material used for the back and even engrave text on the back of your phone. This wasn’t available on any smartphone available at the time.

HTC launched one of the most iconic smartphones of the past decade, the HTC One M8. The device impressed the world with its industrial yet premium design and the dual stereo speaker on the front, providing an audio experience that was unmatched at the time. But that wasn’t all. HTC One M8 was the first commercially sold smartphone to use a secondary 2MP depth sensor along with the primary camera to create a 3D map and use that data to simulate bokeh.


The LG G3 was another innovative smartphone of 2014, bringing quad HD displays to the Android world for the first time. It was one of the best flagship smartphones of 2014, featuring the most powerful hardware available, and set a new standard with its quad HD screen. The Nokia Lumia 1520 was another notable device of 2014, marking it as the first Windows Phone with a phablet-sized display. While the phone was overall quite impressive, the Windows Phone OS failed to fully capitalize on the device’s large screen potential.

samsung galaxy note 4 review

What were the major players like Apple and Samsung up to in 2014? Samsung had just introduced the Galaxy Note 4, offering the best Android experience with powerful hardware, customizable yet feature-rich software, and excellent cameras, all at a competitive price point — a formula that defines its current lineup to date. But what about Apple?

Innovation alone does not guarantee success

For a long time, Apple said that it wouldn’t make a big-screen smartphone. In fact, back in 2010, then-CEO Steve Jobs even said during a press conference that “no one’s going to buy a big phone.” During the conference, he said that it was difficult to get your hand around it and “no one is going to buy that.” But look at what Apple did in 2014 when it launched the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

iphone 6 unboxing

It moved from a 4-inch screen on the iPhone 5s to bigger 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, respectively. Despite the initial skepticism, the iPhone 6 series became Apple’s best-selling iPhone to date. People were really interested in a big-screen iPhone, and despite its “bendgate” controversy — wherein some users reported that their iPhone 6/6 Plus had bent when carrying it in tight pockets — it remains the company’s best product to date.

So, what’s the takeaway from all of this? It’s clear that innovation alone doesn’t guarantee success. While some of the companies mentioned above were leading the pack when it came to smartphone innovation, they failed to understand the changing market trends and customer preferences. In contrast, the companies that adapted to changing markets and integrated the right technologies at the right time, emerged as the biggest winners of the era and still remain relevant to this date.

Innovation remains the key to driving the industry forward — there’s no denying that. The tried and tested innovations from earlier brands have paved the way for what we have today. However, knowing when to integrate these innovations at the right time is equally important.

Here are the best phones you can buy today!

  • pbi-iphone-15-pro
    iPhone 15 Pro

    The iPhone 15 Pro is the new Pro series flagship from Apple. It’s equipped with the new Apple A17 Pro chipset and 8GB of RAM. It comes in new colors, and it has an even more powerful camera setup and a refined design.

  • pbi-samsung-galaxy-s24-ultra
    Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

    $1145 $1300 Save $155

    The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra features a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, a powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip with up to 1TB of storage, and a quad camera setup. The phone comes with Galaxy AI, bringing new advanced features to the table.

  • Pixel 8 Pro pbi alt
    Google Pixel 8 Pro

    $749 $999 Save $250

    The Google Pixel 8 Pro, featuring the third-generation Tensor G3, is Google’s flagship phone for 2023. It introduces some small improvements overall, a brand-new processor to set it apart, a thermometer sensor, and promises an outstanding smartphone camera experience.

Leave a Reply