We definitely saw some awesome phones in 2011 and I listed the top 5 smartphones in a previous post, but we also saw some disappointing phones as well. And I'm not just talking about low-end Android phones, though there were plenty of those. What I'm talking about are the ones that really left us wanting more. The ones that we talked about for months and then when they were finally released we felt cheated. Yes, phones like the HTC Thunderbolt and the Bold 9900 are amazing phones, but considering the hype that surrounded them and the expectations, it was just too much for the phone and they couldn't live up to it. So these are the worst phones of 2011, the ones that made us go "Really? That's it?"


1. Motorola DROID Bionic / HTC ThunderBolt / Apple iPhone 4S / SE Xperia Play

So let me explain why I have four phones listed here and why these four phones in particular are listed given the fact that they're great phones.

These four phones were probably the most hyped phones of the year. Each suffered from DOZENS of missed release dates, spec changes, rumors of being trashed, and an overall build-up that created a lot of tension. In the end, though each one was a great phone, the hype around them was so great that they were disappointments. They never lived up to all of the hype. The ThunderBolt, as awesome as we made it out to be, shipped with a single-core processor right when dual-core processors were gaining popularity, just recently got Gingerbread after months of delays, was plagued by software and reboot issues, and had terrible battery life.

The DROID Bionic didn't have any major problems, except for the fact that it was delayed for seven months and Motorola nearly immediately eclipsed its release by rumors about the HTC Rezound and DROID RAZR. We all have gotten used to a new Android phone every week, but when you've been waiting seven months to buy a phone and the very next day after you buy it Motorola is already leaking specs about another super phone, the frustration is hard to bear.

The iPhone 4S debacle was just as bad. The new iPhone is typically announced in June or July. Well, this year, June and July came and went with no new iPhone. Rumors abounded. We heard about an August release, then a September release, then an October release. We all speculated that Apple must be completely redesigning the iPhone and including some pretty amazing features for it to take them this long to release it. Nope. Same hardware, slightly improved processor, slightly improved camera, and this voice assistant thing that no one uses: boom, the much-anticipated iPhone 4S. Talk about disappointing. (Yes, I know I listed the iPhone 4S as one of the best phones of the year. How can I list it as one of the best and one of the worst? Well, just because it was a great phone doesn't mean it properly satisfied us.)

The Xperia Play was the long-awaited Playstation phone. It was meant to revolutionize mobile gaming. And it probably could have if it didn't ship with a single-core processor in a dual-core world and nothing special when it came to gaming. We expected a Playstation Go with Android. Instead, we got an Android phone with Playstation Go controls. There's a big difference. Trust me.


2. Motorola Titanium / T-Mobile Comet / Samsung DoubleTime / Sharp FX Plus

Again, we have several phones crammed into one spot. Why? Am I simply hating on low-end smartphones? No. One of the great things about Android is that there is a wide variety of price ranges available. If you only have $50 or $100 but you still want a decent phone, you can get one. Those phones may not offer the best performance, but they work well and offer a lot of bang for your buck.

These phones I've listed, however, are the ones that are so low-end, so cheap, and perform so poorly that they're not even worth looking at, even if they are free (which not all of them are). These are the phones that have 500 MHz processors and 150 MB of RAM, a 3-megapixel fixed focus camera with no flash, EV-DO Rev. 0,  and tiny, useless 3-inch displays, to give a few feature examples. These are the phones that don't even deserve to be made. Sound harsh? Just check out one of these at a store and you'll see what I'm talking about. And yes, I've reviewed all of them so I know what their performance is like.


3. Kyocera Echo

I had high hopes for the Echo, I really did. A lot of people brushed it off immediately due to its odd form factor and less-than-stellar specs, but not me. Yeah, it looked weird. Yes, the spec sheet left much to be desired. But it had potential. The idea of two displays and what this could mean for multi-tasking was very exciting to me. I wanted good things for the Echo.

Unfortunately, it was a dud. Despite putting so much time into creating the form factor, Kyocera apparently spent no time trying figure out how to make it look attractive. The phone was thick, bulky, and looked like it was something from five years ago (except for the dual-display technology). I was proud of Sprint for taking a chance on a phone like this and I'm excited to see a company like Kyocera be bold and fearless with its products. These are good signs. However, it just didn't come together properly.


4. HP Veer

Ah, the sad story of webOS. It had (perhaps still has) a lot of potential. Yes, it wasn't perfect, but considering it only got through a few update cycles, I'd say it was pretty darn good. For one, the card-style multi-tasking is something that's been mimicked on a few other OSes on the market. Simply put, webOS was the OS to rival Android and iOS and bring balance to the smartphone market. And then HP bought Palm. It was all downhill from there.

The Veer, like most webOS devices, suffered from poor hardware. Not only was it not very powerful, it was so tiny that it was almost useless. There are a few consumers out there who will appreciate a "cute" phone, but there aren't very many. Not only that, but webOS NEVER got the advertising support it needed so those few people who would have wanted a phone with a 2.6-inch display were never properly made aware of the Veer. webOS had potential, but the Veer was the wrong phone to release if HP wanted to show that.


5. BlackBerry Bold 9900 / 9930

The news surrounding RIM this year was almost as depressing and frustrating as the news surrounding webOS. But that was all supposed to end with a new line-up of BlackBerrys. RIM poured its heart and soul into these new devices and gave us……a decent phone with a price tag of over $300 on contract. Seriously, RIM? The Bold 9900/9930 is a great phone, don't get me wrong. It's not going to knock your socks off but if you're a BlackBerry fan then it's the best thing you've ever seen. The touchscreen is a nice touch (see what I did there?), the display is bright and crisp, the hardware screams 'I'm an adult with a high-paying job!', and the new OS is a huge improvement. However, the price tag is all wrong. For a company that's trying to get back into the game and gain back the consumer's trust, a $350 price tag is absolutely the wrong way to go. Buying a BlackBerry today is somewhat of a risk. No one wants to spend $350 on a device that may or may not turn out to be as good as their wife's/husband's/friend's iPhone or Android phone. This had 'bad idea' written all over it. The people who bought the 9900 were very happy with it, but there just weren't that many people who wanted to spend that much money on it.

If you want a less depressing list, check out my Best Smartphones of 2011 list. There are definitely a lot more shining moments in that one. Every year is bound to contain some failures. It's how we learn. Hopefully these companies have learned from their mistakes and will see a better year in 2012.

What would you say are the worst phones of the year? Let me know in the comments!

Don't forget to VOTE! Each week, PhoneDog Fans vote for their #1 smartphone in the Official Smartphone Rankings. Vote now and contribute to the industry's most relevant weekly ranking charts

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125 Reactions to this post

"What were the worst smartphones of 2011?"

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RayRizzle87 Android>iPhone>BlackBerry its simple math yall
Luis Lopez Fact: The iPhone 4S is the best phone in the world! It's as simple as that.
Anonymous BlackBerry Curve Touch. Absolutely useless and meaningless in every way.
Mrinal Mani need some help selecting a phone, i need dual sim android / 3g video calling via 3g network / skype video calling / 3.2 screen capacitive / wifi, gps / gingerbread available in india, asking u because indian mobile stores dont provide information whether set is working on skype or not, here is one model SPICE m350n, an pls also tell about flash. pls help who read this post. thanks in advance
Danu Carrión Perales i hate how people are the ones that create the rumors and give the phone so much hype and then say "oh its disappointing" people are fucking stupid...
Robert Sivonjic iPhone is good believe me you can do alot of stuff on it cuz my causin has it xD but no seiously and im not a iPhag or an ifan but its cool but the worst i think it was the blackberry cuz they're kinda boring...
Bob Slastik Lg enlighten lg ally hp veer droid three and the pantech breakout
Sairus Soliman Iphone 4s
Ian Walker I was disappointed with the original htc sensation ! I only had it a couple of weeks before taking it back and getting a iPhone again. And please don't bash me I'm not an apple fan boy BUT I have to say there is a certain charm about the iOS platform.
Shahid Khan All HTC branded phones & samsung galaxy Nexus!
Smit Desai iphone 4S - disappoints in some parts like siri not working in india , and costing a 20k more than the iphone 4 for no upgrdes n just the ios 5 which now can be customed on any iphone , this might disappoint .but this phone cant be said as WORST just on its price basis . Coz one words to critics , if people r ready to buy it in extra money like 50k wats ur prob ? Its thr call ..:-) theyy r paying it for APPLE
Patrick J OConnor all androids phone need to go they all suck ass. The best phone that I have ever had was my blackberry bold best Phone out there.
Sheeraz Sarwar Totally waste to throw 45 k for such a crap for Asian users....it's really iPhone 4assssss
Gaurav Bhattacharjee Yep, people were disappointed with iPhone 4s specs but a phone that sells over 1 million copies on the first day cannot be termed as worst.
Chris Robato IPhone 4S and all the boring overpriced Windows Phones.
Yossarian Norman The T-Mobile Comet came out in 2010....
Hector E Craig iPhone 4S is the worse. Hands down.
Nirav Insomniac Iphone 4 ass
Kaaveh Samimy HTC Thunderbolt
Sheeraz Sarwar Great , many of the people think that I phone 4s is the best phone....but the number of those who were disappointed by seing iPhone 4s is much much larger.....common we cannot have two girl friends which looks similar in appearance
Rhyann V Concepcion do you think samsung galaxy y is good? still searching for the best phone.. i was kinda xcited to have android phone, but after reading this thread.. im not sure now : )
Everett C W Byrd I love how half the idiots here are naming phones from 2010. Maybe that's your problem, buying phones a year late.
Joel Williams Samsung Gravity Smart
Steve LeBoeuf Galaxy nexus
Cynthia Guillen I've had both android and iOS, both suck in certain ways like they are both good in other ways. It's all about the carrier.
Stephan Anthony Brown I would have to say in terms of battery the HTC Thunderbolt but in a design the iPhone 4S not because I hate Apple or something but because they could have done much more but did not change much then for OS I would way the standard Blackberry. Oh and those who complain about WP7 I would say that you have yet to actually used one for a extended period of time so use one for a week or two before saying its boring or it sucks.
Brandon Johnson I'ma have to roll wit the Nitro Hd, i played around wit that phone and it was sooooo damn laggy, how can LG continue to not get it right....
Shawn Dudzik sidekick 4g
David Tambascio Anything iCrap
Rick Casey Bionic for sure!
Mark Mann Iphone 4s
Ricardo Lopez lg revolution
Andres Escobar Nexus s!! Worst !! Iphone 4s best!!!
Ayoub Hage Good choice
Ryan Peck Droid bionic thunderbolt and 4a %1?? C'mon guys
Richard Wilson Samsung Intercept for sure...
Asher Enciso So people that say the iPhone 4s is the worst believe that stuff like the hp veer is better? Wow
Mark Hellard I phone for sure
Tiffany M. Treadwell The Kyocera phone that Sprint came up with that had like two screens that folded together. The Echo I think. It was awful!
Athier Mohammed wosrt......ummmm hp veer it had so much potential but since hp shut down....no 3.5mm headphonejack....i no it was small but kinda thick....why not just put a 2.5mm and come with a adapter...thats why i vote the veer the worst phone of the year
Ignacio Gonzalez Tie between HTC Status and HP Veer 4G.
Eduardo Ordaz All wp7 phones cause its boring and microsoft tells the OEMs on how the phones should be made. plus the bionic motorola killed it by changing it. it looked better the first time before they changed it.
Sam Rick Bionic and iphail 4S share the top spot..
Richard Ameen But worst has to be the samsung conquor 4G
Richard Ameen Went off android nexus s to iphone 4S, best decision ive ever made. Android is too buggy and the battery sucks. Idc what people say about ios and iphone ive been on android before
Warner Workman The citrus
James Ortiz Droid Bionic
Karla N Lorenzo Verduzco the htc hd2 I own 1 not good but they say it runs better on android.
Cory Wilson Iphone4s
Ryan Lee i think its up to u. i mean is if that smart phone isnt right for U, it might be useful for others.
Joseph Olvera I know the pre 3 wasn't formally released (in Europe at least), but I'd say that belongs in the #1 spot. I'd say it's the hugest disappointment. Though I think the n9 would also fit in the #1 spot too since meego was for the most part discontinued.
Miguel Sahagun @isaac Samsung sold over 360 million phones this year. Thats almost a million phones a day. Keep up the propaganda !!
Marti Ruiz I mean low ends
Marti Ruiz Cheap Androids phones.
Miguel Sahagun The iphone is just Androids app drawer in a miniature screen
Isaac Sanders Samsung phones!! Ugh, they create everything they make ugly! Gs2 looks dumb and their os on top of android's Is crappy. The HTC Hd2 too. Why do tou think they preloaded it with movies and apps!!?
Vincent Del Pizzo The Pantech 4G phone from Verizon, the DROID 2 Global, the HP Veer 4G, and the Pantech Hotshot.
Andrew Martin All droid phone
Steve Doric Iphone 4s
Cynthia Guillen Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
Zakari Ghachi Iphone 4Shit
Manuel Leon That one from Virgin mobile....
Brian Jones Any phone that doesn't come with adobe flash sux I can't see y any1 wants the iphone anything the screen is to small & there is little to no apeal to the phone that's y I enjoy all Android plus that fact I have unlimited data & free tething from rooting my phone something u can't do yet with the iphone
Lalo Unnecessarilylongmiddlename Cabrales Blackberry phone they are all fails
Daniel Onofre U know what's funny that these are all opinions and some ppl are taking this way to personal if u like android fine and if u like iOS fine also just don't go off and get all sensitive about someone's else's opinion it makes you look like a jerk off -___-
Talon Meyer notice WP7 isnt on here cuz its awesome
Paul Martin The Facebook phone!
Ricardo Aguila Cuenca My penis cause it doesn't boot up
James Drew coming from the retard with "swag" in his name. ill stick to Android.
Marquis Prettyboyswag iphone 4s is not bad actually its one of the best lol
Ricardo Sccp Worst one?... iphone 4s coz didn't had so difference to iphone4 to be so expensive.
Miguel Sahagun iphone 4s
Jay Lazz RIM doesnt set the price, the carrier does.
Orly Maravilla iPhone 4s is a piece of b.s.
Juan Carlos Munoz Any phone with android os in it.
Joe Zazueta apple iphone 4 and 4s and sadly the LG Thrill
Myra Hill I think the iPhone 4 was the best. I bought the iPhone 4 a couple of months before the launch of iPhone 4S. These iPhone 4 looked so attractive I wasn't ready to see new exterior design. Very simple to look at and hold.
Brandon Knight The blackberry curve 9330 on verizon
Hosea Carter Outside of wp7 is I'd say huewi androids because of the crappy skin they use makes the Android look bad lol
Jamar Eccleston sidekick 4g :( samsung ruin it
Hani Niez La apple fan boys these days,,,
Jamar Eccleston the ihpone was the best sikd smartphone since its only smartphone for apple realeased btw have u seen the amount of galaxys 2 sold?
Deonte Miller IPhone 4s is simply the iPhone 4 3 2 and 1 its just new looks people
Nathan Wright No windows phones :) they all work as they should.
J Daniel González Hahah iPhone 4S worst phone??? Keep dreaming!!! iPhone 4S was the best and most sold smartphone in 2011!!
Stuart Brewer 4 number ones, 4 number twos? webOS didn't get enough advertising? I got sick of the Manny Pacquiao ads. Some phones are the wrong choice, some are on there for the wrong reasons. Poorly written article.
Dominic Dejesus I had both the echo and the evo 3d both great phones and they shouldn't be on that list they were wonderful to me
Andrew Young htc smart , sony ericson xperia x8
Boyd C Adkins IV Anyone forget aboot the Htc thunderbolt?
Jennifer DeAlmeida You guys that say the iPhone 4s are delusional or jealous. The Echo and the EVO 3D have to be on that list. ;)
Reese Woodson The HTC Inspire 4G
Dee Nazario LOL the iPhone 4s is BOTH on the worst and best lists! STFU Phonedog.
Gerard Anaya i thought for sure the dell streak would have made this list. i guess its not as bad as i thought...(i have it). I'm gonna upgrade to the samsung galaxy note anyway. :)
Stephen Wagner Everything iphone
Andrew Biorn All android phones
Irving Giovanni Vargas Nokia n8 is not that bad, but it did disappointed me when i first buy it, i thought it was going to be unique and it wasnt.
Angel Ivanov Most of the cheap android smartphones.
Ahmad Sachoo Coz its gay and overrated
Jd Davis Bionic should be #1 with a bullet.
Josh Hawley iPhone 4S... because Apple made it.
Jared Scharbaai why is the iphone 4s bad
Boyd C Adkins IV I would think the motorola defy or charm
Gordon Christie i was right lols
Marti Ruiz RIM smarphones and SYMBIAN
Carlos Sanchez HTC EVO 3d
Jared Greenberg Bionic without a doubt. Not the actual phone itself, but how it was announced, delayed, re-done, and pushed back even more. By the time it was released, it wasn't even relevant anymore because the RAZR came so shortly after and blew it out of the water.
Chris Taylor iPhone 4S
Ammar Mansour nokia e7
Gordon Christie is the iphone 4s number one ? i havent read article yet

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