Now that we live in a world of ultra modern smart devices, social media and hours on end spent with our heads buried in our phones, it’s hard to remember a time when the whole world wasn’t in the palm of our hand. It’s even harder to believe that less than 20 years ago, personal mobile phones were generally uncommon (in Ireland at least). It wasn’t really until the turn of the millennium, that everyone “went mobile”.

 

 

Since then, we’ve had a massive range of different brands, models, specs and designs that have led us to the somewhat generic images we imagine when thinking of mobile phones today. Samsung and Apple continue to dominate the smartphone market with sleek, slim, powerful touch screen devices that all follow generally the same design principals. We thought we’d take a moment to remember some of the classic mobile phones that we all grew up with. In a time when highly filtered selfies weren’t important and the polyphonic ringtone market was booming, these particular models were highly sought after and hold a nostalgic place in our hearts to this day.

 

Nokia 3210 (2000)

 

Image of a Nokia 3210. This was one of the classic mobile phones that was hugely popular in the early 2000s

 

Arguably THE iconic mobile phone when it comes to nostalgia and mobile phone history in general. Everyone from your little cousin to your granny had one of these in the early 2000s. This was a watershed moment for mobile phone usage as texting soon began to become a mainstream means of communication. “Topping up” your phone and being charged extortionate amounts (up to 20p per minute) for calls became a regular part of our everyday life. We were also unexpectedly introduced to our first real mobile gaming experience as people spent hours on end trying to beat their top score on “Snake”. This particular model is also regularly referenced today for it’s outrageous levels of durability compared to recent highly fragile smartphones.

 

Nokia 6600 (2003)

 

Image of a Nokia 6600. This was one of the classic mobile phones that was hugely popular among business people in the early 2000s

 

If the 3210 was the phone of the people then the 6600 was one for the wealthy among us. Retailing at around €600 (a shocking amount of money at the time for a phone) business people and tech geeks scrambled to pick up this beauty that boasted a VGA (whatever that means) Camera , video recording capabilities, Bluetooth and a whopping 6MB of internal memory to play around with. You could also sync it with your computer to share files and use internet browsing. Although in today’s terms these features all seem painfully basic, this was a look at what the future of phones may be like.

 

Nokia N-Gage (2003)

 

 

Image of the Nokia N-GAGE phone. This was one of the classic mobile phones launched by Nokia to corner the games market in 2003

 

As Nokia continued to be a big player in the mobile phone market, elsewhere young people were becoming more and more obsessed with gaming. Playstation, Xbox and handheld consoles like the Nintendo Game Boy were all bringing in huge amounts of revenue. From this perfect storm came perhaps one of the most novelty phones we’d seen yet, the “Nokia N-Gage”. Looking like a mash up of a console controller and a phone, it’s clunky design made it awkward to fit in pockets and it was widely panned by die hard gamers. Despite not being a commercially successful phone, the N-Gage is still a nostalgic look at an interesting time for mobile phone users.

 

Motorola Razr (2004): 

 

Image of the Motorola Razr 3. This classic mobile phones success was due to its sleek design

 

Nokia weren’t the only big player in the early mobile phone market. Sony Ericsson, Motorola and many others competed for peoples attention. Before touch screens became the norm, flip phones became massively popular. We feel that the most iconic of these was without a doubt the “Motorola Razr”. These phones are absolutely stunning and even today they look slightly futuristic. Even though they were more of a fashion statement than a phone with cutting edge tech, there was a time in the mid 2000s where this phone was top of everyone’s Christmas lists.

 

Sony Ericsson W580 (2007): 

 

Image of the Sony Ericsson W580 mobile phone. This was one of the first classic mobile phones to have a built in MP3 player

 

As competition among phone companies continued, more and more features were being added to phones. In the background, stand alone MP3 players were becoming hugely popular and so phone companies began making their mobile models compatible with this new file format. One of the early successes in this field was the Sony Ericsson W580. With Sony CD “Walkmans” now losing relevance, the company developed this model to appear as both a phone and an MP3 player. While the keypad was slid down it would serve mainly as a music device, but by sliding it up you would reveal the keypad and it’s impressive(at the time) 2.0 megapixel camera. It also had a built in pedometer that could help you track your fitness on the go.

 

Around the same time that the W580 was being released, a computer company in the US that had already began to dominate the MP3 player market was releasing a “smartphone” of their own. In July of 2007, a multi-touch or touchscreen (at the time an unusual concept) device called the “iPhone” was launched by Steve Jobs and Apple. The iPhone would go on to change the way we look at our phones and usher in a new era of smart devices and connectivity. Despite the wealth of tech, apps and features that mobile phones provide us with today, there will always be a part of us that will long for days where we didn’t worry so much about our social media accounts or “4G Superfast” coverage and instead cared more about beating that high score on “Snake”!

 

Image of a Nokia 3210 being used for the classic game Snake. Classic mobile phones had an array of basic games that became hugely popular in the early 2000s

 

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