10 Android devices that were too weird to succeed

There's breaking the mold with innovative new features -- and then there are these phones

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Taking risks on new ideas is great, but sometimes they go too far

In less than a decade Android has gone from an ecosystem consisting of only a couple of similar devices to one of unfathomable variety. Among the thousands of Android phones and tablets that have sprung into being over the years, there are some that stand out as particularly strange.

Taking risks can be good. Sometimes you come up with the Galaxy Note, which did seem crazy at first. Other times, you create a boondoggle like one of these ten devices.

weirdphones samsung galaxy beam
Samsung Galaxy Beam

The Samsung Galaxy Beam was not a remarkable phone in any way, save for one: It had a tiny DLP projector built right in. It could project an image up to 50 inches large from several feet away in a dark room, but for barely long enough time to watch a movie. No one really needs this feature; even those who use projectors don't necessarily need one in their phone. Not to mention that the projector hardware made the Galaxy Beam bulky and ugly.

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Kyocera Echo

What's better than one screen? Two screens! Well, maybe not in practice. The Kyocera Echo debuted on Sprint in 2011 with a huge advertising blitz. This phone's claim to fame was a second screen that could snap into place next to the main one. It created a weird little dual-pane Android UI with buggy and severely limited software. Needless to say, Sprint did not sell very many of these.

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Samsung Continuum

You may think that the Samsung Continuum was another dual-screen phone, but it actually had one big screen that was split into two parts. Verizon launched this phone in 2010 as part of the Galaxy S family. The navigation buttons were in a strip painted over the lower portion of the screen, leaving a small sliver at the bottom. This "second screen" could show notifications, news, and other information. As interesting as the basic concept was, the implementation was lacking and didn't make up for the wasted space.

Interestingly, the same basic idea is behind the Galaxy Note Edge, though not the new Galaxy S6 Edge.

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Pantech Pocket

AT&T sold the Pantech Pocket for a brief period in 2011, but it vanished quickly from stores. It was a 4-inch phone with a 4:3 800x600 screen. It was like an iPad shrunken down and made considerably less attractive. I don't know why they called it the "Pocket," because it does not look comfortable to carry in one.

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Sony Tablet P

Sony didn't learn its lesson from Kyocera and made its own foray into the world of dual-screen Android in 2012 with the Tablet P. This was a Honeycomb-powered tablet with a clamshell design. It was an interesting experiment, but the software support wasn't there and it was incredibly bulky, with huge bezels.

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Motorola Backflip

Long before Motorola's Google acquisition and subsequent Android renaissance, there was the Blackflip. This phone had a backward-folding hinge that closed to leave the keyboard on the outside rear of the device. When open for typing, there was a multitouch trackpad (called the Backtrack) on the bottom, but it was extremely awkward and could be triggered accidentally while holding the device. If that wasn't weird enough, Motorola also included Yahoo search as the default instead of Google.

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Sony Ericsson Xperia Play

People wanted to love the Xperia Play, which was sold on both Verizon and AT&T in 2011. This Gingerbread-powered phone was a landscape slider, but instead of a keyboard it had a gamepad. Sony offered a limited selection of classic PSP and PlayStation games in its PlayStation Mobile store, but the company quickly lost interest. This device still has its defenders, but it was just too niche to succeed.

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Motorola Flipout

Motorola really used to love bizarre hinges. Around the same time the Backflip was flopping on AT&T, T-Mobile offered the Flipout. This phone had a tiny 2.8-inch 4:3 screen with a keyboard that rotated down (not a slider) from behind it. The Flipout was an awkward little block when closed, and the UI was in no way optimized for the square display. The Motorola Flipout was so weird that it's actually kind of amazing.

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LG Optimus Vu 2 / Intuition

LG has tried a few times to copy the success of the Samsung Galaxy Note, but it has yet to hit the nail on the head. Perhaps its worst attempt was the Optimus Vu 2 (known in the United States as the Intuition). This phone had a 5-inch screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio. It also had a built-in capacitive stylus. The design was beyond awkward.

weirdphones samsung galaxy round
Samsung Galaxy Round

Curved phones are a thing these days, but they usually curve from top to bottom (like a banana). However, Samsung chose to put a concave screen on the Galaxy Round that curves from left to right (like a Pringles chip). There are only a few software features designed to take advantage of this design, none of which are particularly innovative. This phone was just weird for the sake of being weird.