Feeds

back to article Slideshow: A History of the Smartphone in 20 Handsets

With the news that world smartphone usage total has passed the billion mark in 20 years, we present 20 of the most important smartphones from the past 20 years. From the very first devices - IBM's Simon and Nokia's Communicator - to the defining products from the major platforms - RIM's BlackBerry 5810, HP's iPaq h6315 and Palm' …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

This post has been deleted by its author

WTF?

Nokia N-Gage?

Come on why on earth was that heap of junk included. I made the sad mistake of purchasing one without realizing that the speaker and microphone were on the side of the device, making it look like an elephants ear every time you used it as a phone!

Fond memories of the Nokia Communicator though :-)

10
0
Silver badge

Re: Nokia N-Gage?

For the same reason they made it. It looked arresting.

0
0
FAIL

Re: Nokia N-Gage?

Hey, they included an iPAQ ... that too was an entire line of elephant dung. From start to finish. Ever see a "smart" phone corrupt its entire OS (and all subsequent backups) by simply loading a Word doc greater than half-a-meg in size? Way to go, HP! My brother bought the entire deal - bluetooth voice dialing, camera, Microsoft apps, everything - long before the iPhone came on the market ... and he said, he would never buy HP again. And he hasn't.

3
0
jai
Silver badge

Re: Nokia N-Gage?

i guess the N-Gage does deserve to be here - it's a prime example of everything that was wrong with smart phone and why people weren't buying them, prior to the current golden age of Android and iOS devices

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Nokia N-Gage?

Good to see the 7650, still got one of those. I seem to remember the N-gage being nothing more than a standard Symbian phone with a different case. I think it was identical to the 6600 hardware (still got one of those somewhere too!).

1
0
Thumb Up

I started with the Orange SPV

This was the first Windows Mobile phone, and the first handset from HTC. Bloody awful thing, but quite a few people bought them, would have been worthy of inclusion I think. The Palm / Handspring Treo 600 to this day is one of the best phones I ever had, fantastic thing, so sad that Palm dropped the ball.

6
0
Gold badge

Re: I started with the Orange SPV

It had very modest specs, the battery life was terrible too.

But the later phones were good (HTC Typhoon aka Orange SPV500), the Windows Smartphone platform was a lot nicer than the touch screen version where you would lose all your data if the battery ran out (they didn't use flash memory storage until Windows Mobile 5).

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: I started with the Orange SPV

I smashed my first SPV jumping out of a tree. The roll I went into was awesome, except for the phone being on my belt. Smashed to pieces was an understatement, but the board still synced when plugged in. I still have the 2nd SPV (E200 iirc) and it still works nicely (as a phone).

It was the transflective screen of the SPV that made it so utterly awesome. It is still to this day the only phone I've had that looked better in sunlight than out of it.

1
0
Facepalm

Re: I started with the Orange SPV

"The roll I went into was awesome, except for the phone being on my belt."

That story sounded cool, till the second half of this sentence.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Orange SPV

I had a sudden Captain Scarlet flashback there...

3
0

The N-Gage, really. I remember the device being a complete flop so they made the software a pladform added to other phones. The N95 on the other hand.

And yes, the SIII is awesome but what about the one that went from niche curiosity to kick starting interest in the large phone market as more than a niche. I speak of non other than the Note. I shall be sad to see mine go but the consolation will be all the shiny in its replacement.

Before it does go I am going to try an experiment since I still have all of my others.

I shall use the camera on my Nokia 6230 to take a photo of my first mobile (S.E. T29s), then use the Nokia 3250 to take a snap of the 3250 showing a picture of the t29, then the N95 of that then the N900 (seeing a pattern there) . Then of course my Note can take the Goodbye Nokia pic followed by the Note2 of the Note.

1
0

Wow - the Ericsson R380s - I used to work in Cable & Wireless in Warrington and used to get the same train as those who worked at Ericsson in Birchwood, and they all had these. There I was with my T18 with removable covers and programmable ring tones thinking I was the canine's conkers. Then suddenly there was this, this think of full-frontal monochrome beauty with a STYLUS and everything.

0
0

R380s

I had one of these - indeed, it was my first phone. I'm not one for talking so didn't see the point in a mobile but had used PSIONs and other organisers for years. As soon as I heard they were making a device that (sot of) combined the two I was hooked. And I BELIEVE I'm correct in saying this was the first device to be marketed under the term "smartphone".

However, it was only a smartphone in the way the first iPhone was. You couldn't actually install native software on it. But the PDA stuff was well implemented and the Box came with a full copy of Lotus Notes for synching your data! It also came with a combined dock/charging cradle and a leather carry case with a belt clip!

However, its absolutely best feature was that the physical keypad wasn't electronic. Each button had a little nipple underneath it. When you pressed the button, the nipple touched the screen underneath which triggered the required action. It was genius. It also meant you could remove the keypad completely (the box had a little tool for doing this) and just use the virtual key-pad on the touchscreen - which I did for about five minutes before switching back.

0
0
Silver badge

6315

I had an Ipaq that I used for a couple of years, but it had to be rebooted daily to keep it working. What is the point of a phone that might not ring?

1
0
Silver badge

Nokia 9000

I have a (non-working) Nokia 9000 sitting in a display cabinet. As a piece of industrial art it was extremely cool when new and remains attention getting today among the geekerati.

You missed the Motorola A1000 - it ran Symbian UIQ2 like the Sony phones. I retired mine last year (7 years old!) after android phones finally matched the featureset, plus the old one's buttons wore out.

HP Ipaqs were available as phones in the early 2000s. They weren't too bad even though they ran WinCe, however most Windows phones of the day were utterly dire (I had one which ended its life in small pieces after being thrown out a window in frustration.)

2
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Nokia 9000

UIQ!

I have a Sony Ericsson P900 and P990.

UIQ was like having an early version of today's smartphones right there in your hand. A bit thick, but not as offensive as those Nokia Communicators. They didn't have touchscreens, and were just downright house-brick like.

You could even load up ScummVM on those old UIQ devices and play Monkey Island perfectly well with the stylus!

0
0
Gold badge

Re: Nokia 9000

UIQ was great. It's just all the Symbian software seemed to be written for the Nokia branch, at least when I started looking. Great idea about fighting off Microsoft by combining forces on one shared platform. Shame about the bit where they couldn't bring themselves to actually share...

The P800 had the same weird button presses touch screen going on. Although it was only a number pad, for quick dialling, writing needed the stylus to press the tiny onscreen keyboard or do handwriting recognition. The P900 had a flip down keyboard, but I'm not sure if that was doing the same thing, or electronic.

I took my keypad off, and used my fingers. The P800, and my old tablet PC, are probably the only gadgets I've had where people have been surprised and interested, and wanted a demo or play. The original iPad also got lots of attention, but people'd all seen the hype and knew what it was.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Nokia 9000

Communicators had fully QWERTY keyboards that were very usable (especially on the 9210). The 9110 could be booted into DOS (it ran GEOS on top of DOS). A proper computer indeed.

3
0

Re: Nokia 9000

Had every Communicator from 9000 to 9500, still have them, and their boxes (I'm that kind of geek) loved them all. Missed out on the e series - no fax, how do you install mfp's without testing the fax - until the E7-00 belle. Usable, good looking, great screen but no a Communicator.

Ps once got pulled by the police with a 9000 in my jacket pocket- they classed it as an offensive weapon!

0
0
Silver badge

Was to early

The Nokia communicators would have been awesome devices back then if data transmission wouldn't have been so expensive back then. Of course todays version would probably either have an Atom inside or run Maemo/Meego/Debian by default

0
0
Silver badge
WTF?

Non of the early HTC Windows Mobile devices?

Branded as the XDA range over here by O2

1
0

Re: Non of the early HTC Windows Mobile devices?

We still have a few of them in our office and several in active service out in the field due to a piece of software that only runs on Windows mobile 6.5.

0
0

Re: Non of the early HTC Windows Mobile devices?

Agreed - the HTC TyTn II (AKA Kaiser / O2 XDA Stellar / T-Mobile MDA Vario III) was one of the most amazing devices ever: 4-row QWERTY keyboard with a tilt screen.

Along a similar line was the HTC Touch Pro: A 5-row QWERTY keyboard - Personally I would sell my own left testicle for a 5-row QWERTY android phone.

0
0

Motorola Accompli 008

Motorola Accompli 008 - a product before it time, only really sold in Asia, not available in Europe or USA.

0
0
Silver badge

Handspring Treo 180g

Palm OS - which meant good sync with your desktop and a wide range of apps - plus a decent phone. The first real smartphone in my opinion and certainly more significant than the Treo 650.

1
0

Re: Handspring Treo 180g

Agreed. Had the colour 270, and it was great.

I never actually wanted a phone, that was just a by-product of the mobile data aspect. Even so, it worked brilliantly as a mobe, even for this luddite who hadn't the faintest idea how to work one. I still can't type on a numeric keypad.

The hardware wasn't fantastic, it was the software that made it. Such a shame that PalmOS was allowed to die of neglect.

-A.

1
0
Gold badge

Happy memories of the Sony/Ericsson P800 here. It was well built, and mine lasted for years. I had it for 2 or 3, then passed it on, after a year in the drawer, to someone who'd broken theirs. He was still using it a couple of years ago.

It was severely limited as to what it could do, because it was UIQ not Nokia's S60 version of Symbian. So every time I saw a brilliant new app in PCW, it would turn out I couldn't run it. I never successfully got Bluetooth to work, although back then this was nothing unusual - and just as likely to be the other devices as the phone. The stylus was horrible to hold, because it was a flat, plastic thingy. But that was OK, because I got a pen with black, blue and stylus nibs. Being Sony, it was also encumbered with Memory Stick. Except not the full size one, that wasn't that much more expensive than SD cards - but Memory Stick Duo (now I think called mini), where you had a smaller card and full-sized adaptor. They were over twice the price of SD cards, which were horrifically expensive at the time.

Still it was amazing for the time, and quite impressively easy to use. You had a flip down keypad, that had little pins behind each key, which simply pressed an electronic version on the touch-screen behind it. So I took that off, and it was lovely to use. You only had to resort to the stylus when you got into more complicated operations, even some menus were just big enough to operate with your finger. And I think I had proper handwriting recognition, instead of the fake letters you had to learn with Palm (although theirs were probably still faster).

The P900s were even better, a friend had one. But I decided on dumb phones, and I think I moved to a Motorola V3 RAZR, which on balance is probably my favourite phone ever. It was only 2 years ago that I jumped back into smartphone land, with a work HTC Wildfire. Clever, but frustrating. Now a Nokia Lumia 710 - Lovely to use, until you try do something complex, then annoying that you can't.

I still think the early iPhones looked much nicer than the later ones. I think the 4 onwards are ugly. The HTC Desire style ones are my current favourite, rubbery stuff on metal for toughness and good grip, and nice and rounded in the hand. Although the childish side of me likes the idea of a big Nokia 920, in bright, bright yellow.

1
0

totally agree - I had a P800 which I managed to loose in my own car (god knows how I spent days looking for it) and then a P910 afterwards. They felt massively ahead of their time back then.

0
0

Mitac Mio a701

Probably the first phone to include a GPS chip (SiRFstarIII).

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Mitac Mio a701

I had one of those for 10 months, longest I'd kept a phone for back then. It was pretty good, although my work colleague who also bought one got a dud and never did get it working right.

It was good as it came with all the charger and windscreen mounts.

1
0

Needs one of the HTC range of windows mobile phones the Tytn was good in its day (I think I got it to tether as a wifi hotspot) and I still rather liked the Nike with it's slide out phone keyboard.

In pure functionality terms my current android phone isn't much better (maps is the only biggy) than a tytn would be with a bigger screen (and seems to need to be rebooted more often than the Tytn) we don't seem to have moved on much.

0
0

Yeah I had a TyTn, it ended life being thrown against a wall after i had recalibrated the screen for the umpteenth time inside an hour. I have no idea why but mine just would not seem to hold on to the screen alignment settings and would drive me crazy.

It made me swear I'd never buy another HTC device, which I broke with the Desire and regretted very quickly.

0
0
Thumb Up

I started with the 7650 and then went through a 9210 and a 6260 along the way. I've used Symbian, Windows Mobile, Blackberry for work, Windows Phone, iOS and now Android. I think the only one I've never touched is Palm's OS.

I think my fondest memories are of the 9210. It was friggin' lovely and apps available for it just rocked. Even now, there's no calendar app on any platform that comes close to it. I miss my 9210 a lot. I miss Symbian too; the community was great (big shout out to www.allaboutsymbian.com) and the apps were innovative. What happened Nokia? You used to push the boat out with every new model! At least it beat Bill Gates' Windows Mobile (too bad JPZR!)

Symbian made me feel warm :) I always wanted a P800 though, they looked so happy!

Windows Mobile just crashed a lot; it was all hat and no cattle.

iPhone? I thought that was great until I looked through the Apple bubble (after my 3GS) and saw the competition was actually a bit better in many areas.

Windows Phone (I had the HTC HD7) was great, I liked that a lot but ended up feeling Microsoft wasn't doing too much with the Windows Phone 7 platform. I didn't know how right I was.

Android now, through and through!

Great piece, totally loved seeing the pictures :)

2
0
Anonymous Coward

It's a shame Android isn't really innovating, just basically copying iOS and all of the other mobile platforms of old.

If you want to see innovation it is Microsoft and RIM now. Both have thought about how people use phones and built user interfaces to make these common actions quick and easy.

With Android and iOS it's "launch an app", "switch to another app" etc. Tiresome.

2
7
Gold badge

Old Windows mobile could be great, when it didn't crash. The combination of, calendar, diary, phone and satnav was great - back in 2004/5. Shame about the occasional hard resets... If MS hadn't taken their eye off the ball, they could still be big in mobile, rather than sprinting to catch up with WinPho 8.

My old P800 remembered that it was a phone first. And then did all the other stuff. Which I'm not sure I'd say for any smartphone I've used since, though Win Pho 7 is the closest to that. But it's 2 button presses (one button's quite small as well) to get to a phone keypad. I've never used Palm, Blackberry, or Nokia's flavour of Symbian, so don't know what they're like. If WinPho 8 can improve on 7, without buggering things up, I think I'll stay that route, otherwise I'll probably head back to Android - as I think the iPhone is too expensive. £550 for a handset you've got to use in the rain, and might drop...

1
0
Nev

Look at the variety/innovation...

...and look where we've ended up:

Large touch-screen slabs with icon driven GUIs and no buttons to control volume or answer/hang-up a call.

Makes everyone look like Dom Joly or an 80s throwback.

(I waited for the Sendo-X but settled on a Panasonic X700 as my first "smart" phone.)

2
0

HTC windows mobile should defintiely be included (HTC universal is a good example) and the iconic blackberry bold

0
0

Predictably...

.... quite a lot of curved corners even in the early models.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

What about the Orange SPV M500/M600

And Windows mobile 2003, stylus fun?

2
0
Coat

Palm 600

Palm Treo 600 as the title, with a photo of a Treo 650? I'll get my coat.

I had a 600, 650s and two 680s, all great phones, though a tad heavy in your pocket! Used to love PalmOS and Graffiti, despite a few glitches they never really fixed. Shame HP bought Palm and WebOS got lost somewhere along the way.

1
0
Bronze badge

O2 XDA

what about the XDA's? And the other window mobile phones??

0
0

Nokia 7650

I remember buying one of these, and getting one for my wife as well as no-one else we knew had one at the time and we needed someone to send the photo messages to! 0.3 mega pixels!

It looked lovely, and I liked the solid feel to it, but our network was crap and expensive so we hardly used the photo msg functionality.

At least the slidey cover was swish and was well engineered - unlike more recent samsung and htc mobiles I could mention...

1
0
Thumb Up

Re: Nokia 7650

I had a 7650 for 5 days. Was a lovely phone to use but I wanted Bluetooth, which either it did not have, else did not have for voice, so it went back to Vodafone. About 18 months later I got my P900 - partly because smart phones had (to me) become usable, but also a lot down to the fact I just did not get along with Graffitti 2 on my Palm Tungsten T2 (loved my Palm Xv and Psion MX before that) and was close to throwing it against a wall.

0
0

Missing, like most "smart phone histories", is the LG Prada before the iPhone in 2007

Is it that hard to remember?

1
1

Re: Missing, like most "smart phone histories", is the LG Prada before the iPhone in 2007

Bought one for my wife. It was crap - and for that reason we try not to remember it.

1
1
Thumb Up

I still have my P900 some where

Possibly one of the best smart phones I've had - though wireless technology moved on. Shame they screwed up on the P990.

To me since the P900/910 day smart phones have become dumber and dumber until now they are little more than application launching phones. The PIM/PDA these days feels like disjointed add-ons designed by people who'd not normally use them. it's not as if apps are a new concept or an invention from Apple. Used to be lots for UIQ, not only on Handango App Store, but also else where around the web, just not as well centralised.

0
0
Bronze badge

Not an Apple chap but...

Surely the peak iPhone was the 3GS? So far ahead of its competition, in a way subsequent phones haven't been.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Why isn't the Apple iPhone 5 at the top of the evolutionary ladder?

says a troll in a mask

1
0
Meh

Must... resist... mustn't... post...

...no, I can't stop it: really, no Nokia N95?

Granted, it seems inconceivable that a "smartphone" launched only five years ago (in the same year as the first iPhone, indeed), could've possessed hardware number-keys and no touchscreen, but the N95 packed 3G data and a 5-megapixel stills/VGA video camera, when it's easy to forget the first iPhone lacked either. (And before the fanbois flame on, yes, the iPhone has caught up somewhat over the years... ;-) )

I'm not going to gloss over the initial software issues - I got my N95 in 2007, so I lived through them - but the device was arguably one of the most capable smartphones of its time, even if the iPhone quickly became the standard for other mobiles to follow (influencing my current Nokia N8... oh, the irony).

Otherwise, interesting feature, not least to see how far we have come in so little time.

1
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.