There’s something incredibly satisfying about phone designs in the early 2000s. Whether it’s the nostalgic effect for all of us 90s babies, the plethora of buttons, or perhaps the fact that you never feared dropping them down a flight of 500 stairs, those little (sometimes not-so-little) devices sure made our childhoods more interesting.
So, let’s use a metaphorical time machine to look back on some intriguing designs that make us look at our reflective touch-sensitive blocks of technology with a sense of disdain, with us asking, “Where did it all go so wrong?”
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01. My Grandma Gave Me This Old Phone Today As A Housewarming Gift. It Quacks When It Rings. I Was Terrified Of It When I Was A Child, So That’s Why She Gave It To Me
Who doesn’t like a little bit of nostalgia to hit just right, both in the pain and pleasure departments of the soul? You’ll want to sell yours to see the return of these intricate and fascinating phone designs, making you feel like you’re living inside one of those indie sci-fi films.
In the most basic sense, mobile phones allow us to keep in touch with others, whether on the go or just splayed out on the couch, repeatedly rewatching the same episode of Friends because it acts as therapy. It’s not therapy, Stephanie; get some professional help!
02. I Found My Old Cell Phone With An Optional Clip On Chat Board For Easier Texting
03. Motorola StarTac Rainbow
If we’re to have a little history lesson, mobile phones have developed since the late 60s and throughout the 70s, but they were too bulky to be considered truly portable. While Motorola dominated the early mobile phone landscape, Finnish company Nokia joined the mobile phone evolution, coming into prominence in the early 1990s.
We’re all aware of the iconic Nokia 3310. It may have looked closer to a brick than a mobile phone, but if you built a house or a chapel out of that model, it would live through wars, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, volcano eruptions—everything. Nothing destroys the Nokia 3310. It will exist longer than the Sun and our known universe.
04. Motorola Flip Out Mb511
05. Siemens SK65
06. Siemens Xelibri 8
The models that we see here today were mainly released from 1998–2000, introducing the market to seemingly never-ending customization. From ringtones to shapes to color schemes, to how they opened and twisted and turned, phones became somewhat of a fashion accessory and a way to express your personality.
Although they were incredibly complex in appearance, they could fulfill only the most basic tasks, compared with the capabilities of mobile phones today. With Apple, Samsung, and Huawei dominating the market, we’ve seen the emergence of the plain rectangular black mirror, which can hardly be compared to the more straightforward yet iconic and personable devices of the past.
07. Nokia 7600
08. Cool Old-School Crank Phone At My Work
09. Motorola Aura A Premium Phone
As shared on NokiaMob.net, some believe smartphones have reached the peak of usability. “Usability drives design creativity, and nowadays, we only use phones to soak our minds in the wonders of the modern information-driven world. Thus the design becomes irrelevant,” they argued.
We all tend to buy phones that are usable, durable, and have good battery life, and as we’re all just buying protective covers to protect our precious belongings anyways, is there a need for more design innovation? As an Irish technology fanatic, Adam Conway stated, “Innovation is fun, but innovation leads to products that aren’t good enough for everyone.”
It all boils down to the delicate dance of balancing functionality with design and market competition. Design should complement functionality, not contrast it, and although our heads may turn to the next shiny thing on the shelf, the way it works will be the element that keeps us coming back for more.
10. Nokia N-Gage
11. Samsung Serenata
12. Nokia 7380
As Ferdinand Porsche put it, “Design must be functional, and functionality must be translated into visual aesthetics.” Lisa Maltby, an illustrative designer, explained that any product must solve the user’s problems and make their lives easier; thus, creatives should combine functionality and fun in the most effective way possible.
If I can’t use it, I don’t want it. What’s the point of having a triangular phone if I can’t fit it in my back pocket, and what’s the point of having a flip phone if the screen is indenting in the middle, making it look messy? What’s the point of my phone being run by an AI that can read my mind and tell me how useless I already know I am?
13. I Finally Got An Xperia Pureness
14. The Nokia 3650. First Phone With A Video Camera. It Helped Establish Symbian Os In The Consumer Market
15. This Old Jaguar Still Has Its Car Phone
The lack of production diversity says a lot about the market itself. Consumers want to be comfortable with their purchases. Would you like to invest in something utterly different that hasn’t been seen before? It’s been done a couple of times, with prominent innovators joining the game, yet until another genius comes forth, we’re stuck with the reflective magic rectangle.
As you continue this voyage into the nostalgic, dear A&D followers, continue upvoting your favorites. In the end, leave your opinions and thoughts below: did we have it better in the past, or is the present pretty neat as well?
Have a great one, and happy scrolling!
16. 2003 Nokia 6810. An Unbelievable 71 Individual Buttons On A Handset This Size
17. Motorola V100
18. Samsung Sph-N270
19. My Beautiful Motorola V50. In The Dark Gray Color, Which I Think Looks Best. Great Phone, Very Small, Compact, Has Great Range, And It Still Works On 2g Networks.
20. Siemens Xelibri
21. My Old Phone Has This Unusual Button
22. I Found So Many Old Phones While Decluttering My Grandpa’s Office
23. Two-Faced Samsung
24. Nokia N-Gage
25. Ericsson T60d. Limited Edition Spider-Man Version
26. Samsung Dual Flip
27. Newgen C620
28. Toshiba G450. The Weird Little Phone
29. The Year Was 2010. I Was Being Handed Down This Phone From My Brother. Suddenly I Felt Like The Coolest Kid In the Class. This Is My LG KU990i
30. Samsung Serene
31. Introducing My 2009 Samsung Gloss Sch-U440
32. Sierra Wireless Voq
33. During The ’90s, Motorola Service Centers Offered “Express Exchange” Loaner Phones To Customers While Their Phones Were Out For Repair
34. Virgin Mobile Lobster 700 TV
35. This 20-Year-Old “Modern-Looking” Landline Phone
36. Motorola 308 StarTac
37. This Is The Google Sooner, Which Is A Prototype For The First Android Phone. It Runs A Super Early Version Of The Android
38. Fly Z300
39. Nokia 7700
40. Nokia E90
41. I Still Like My Nokia 9110 Communicator
42. Nokia 5510
43. Motorola StarTac 6000e
44. My Old Mobile Phone Is Cool. Samsung P300 From 2005
45. My Phone’s Battery And Main PC’s HDD Both Started Failing At The Same Time, So I’m Relying On These Two A Lot More For The Time Being
46. Sidekick II
47. My Old High School Cell Phone And The Phone I Got After It
48. Samsung P910 TV
50. Nokia 9210
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