It's a cliché to say we're addicted to our smartphones, isn't it? You know: any spare moment, there we are, SnapBooking our WhatsFaces or adding likes to our tweet-zones. The fact is smartphones are pretty useful – you can check the weather on one, book a holiday, or take beautiful photos of a lovely vista or cat. But that's as nothing compared to the phones of yore! In those days, phones were real phones – you made calls on them, sent the odd text, and … that was about it. But they were just better – not for any reasons – but just because. Here are five of the finest that prove it beyond any doubt.
5. Nokia 5110 (1998)
Despite being built like a brick outhouse – and sized rather like one too – Nokia's 5110 made huge inroads in making the mobile phone a desirable consumer product. How? By making like John Travolta and Nicholas Cage and offering interchangeable faces. Blue? Yellow? Flowery? A different sort of flowery? It didn't matter – if you had a 5110, Nokia made an ugly face-plate for you. Its 84 by 48 pixel screen proved no impediment to gaming – being as it was one of the first phones to include the enormously popular eat-em-up, Snake.
4. Sony Ericsson K750i (2005)
A 2-megapixel phone camera sounds comedic today, but back in 2005 it was a revelation. It was perfectly poised to capitalize on a boom in the popularity of digital photography and photo-sharing (Flickr had launched just a year before). Yeah, the photos were small and grainy, like a malformed Weetabix, but still – you could take half-decent snaps on something that fit in your pocket and which had a standby battery life of 600 hours – and no, that isn't a sarcastic joke but the actual factual figure quoted by Sony Ericsson. And the firm ought to know – it made the darned thing!
3. Motorola V70 (2002)
Stylish and minimal as today's smart phones may be, they all basically look like iPhones, and that's just a bit boring. Not so the Motorola V70 – fabled as being among the first phones with a round screen. It didn't have a round screen, of course – it had 96 by 64 pixel display with a round window slapped over the top. It wasn't a particularly good phone even by 2002 standards, and yet this phone deserves its place in history for looking more or less exactly like Kenny out of South Park. Ay caramba!
2. Motorola Razr V3 (2004)
Definitely the coolest phone on this list, even if it's not quite so svelte was we remember it – the Motorola Razr V3 (confusingly, the first edition of the Razr) was the best-selling clamshell mobile phone ever. Sounding like a middling Wu-Tang Clan rapper but looking like something out of the Matrix, the Razr was the thinnest phone of its time, and so no end of celebrities were seen with them (on and off the screen) what with thinness being the entire basis of modern society. Just don a pair of sunglasses and you could snap one of these open in a flash, yelling "I need an exit, Scotty" like Keanu Reeves out of Speed – that's how cool they were. Conversely, your Dad has an iPhone.
1. Nokia 6310i (2002)
If sexy steals second, first place must go to the the shire horse that was Nokia 6310i. Like the 6210 before it, the 6310i became beloved of business and consumer users alike thanks to its durability and dependability. It had a battery that could power a small landlocked country and an oddly reassuring length, which made it look a bit like the missing evolutionary link you might bow down to in bemused worship. In 2014, Bob Geldoff said he still used his 6210, despite it being released in the year 2000, calling it "The AK–47 of mobile phones." Nevermind that the two machines have almost nothing in common – that's Geldoff for you.
What was your favorite phone of the pre-smart area? Have a jibber in the comments.
Want a cleaner, faster loading and ad free reading experience?
Try New Atlas Plus. Learn more