Android has certainly come a long way from Google’s first mention of the Open Handset Alliance, and little shows it quite so well as the Google Sooner. HTC’s first prototype for Google’s Android development, the Sooner was a non-touch QWERTY handset used for the earliest demos of the platform, five years ahead of flagships like the Galaxy S III and the One X. App developer and serial prototype acquirer Steve Troughton-Smith managed to pick up a Sooner device and has shared some details.
Power isn’t the Sooner’s forte, running a miserly OMAP850 with 64MB of RAM, but that’s enough for this decidedly early build of Android: htc-2065.0.8.0.0 dated May 15 2007. Other hardware specs include a 320 x 240 display and a 1.3-megapixel camera, though no 3G connectivity or even WiFi.
The UI itself comes in before even what Google showed off in its early Android demos, with a homescreen devoid of anything beyond a clock and a search box. The refreshed version, with the row of shortcut icons across the bottom of the screen, is actually loaded as a separate app.
“It’s quite clear that Android was being designed to a completely different target before the iPhone was released. What we see here would have fitted in perfectly with the world of Symbian and BlackBerry. This early build of Android is in fact even less capable and mature than the 2004 release of Symbian Series 90 (Hildon), the OS that runs on the Nokia 7700 and 7710 – Nokia’s first, and only, pre-iPhone touchscreen smartphones. It’s not hard to see that iPhone really changed the thinking across the entire industry, and caused everybody to start from scratch” Steve Troughton-Smith
It’s no small distance from Ice Cream Sandwich as we know it today, and as Troughton-Smith points out it feels more like a BlackBerry competitor than the iPhone rival we primarily know Android as today.