These are 10 of the most iconic cell phones in history
The first phone call was made in 1973 by the “father of the cell phone”, Marty Cooper. He used a prototype Motorola phone that laid the foundation for the first commercially available cell phone 10 years later.
“The battery life on this phone was less than half an hour of talk time,” Marty told Kim Komando in a radio interview last year. “Turns out that wasn’t a problem, Kim, because you couldn’t hold that phone to your ear for 25 minutes, it was so heavy!” Tap or click here to hear what Marty said to rival AT&T’s project manager when he made the very first phone call.
The first cell phones had two functions: talking and listening. Text messaging, cameras and apps came later. Some of us remember the first clumsy phones from the 1980s, while others belong to the flip phone generation. We’ve rounded up 10 of the most iconic cellphones in history to bring you back.
1.Motorola DynaTAC 8000X
The first cell phone that wasn’t tied to a car or small suitcase was Motorola’s DynaTAC 8000X, released in 1983. It cost $3,995, or $10,950 today. Although this phone was not intended for the mass market, it was the first true mobile phone that could connect to a network with the need for a carrier.
These phones are considered collectibles and cost a pretty penny on eBay.
2. T-Mobile’s sidekick
Originally called Hiptop, the Sidekick was introduced in 2002 by T-Mobile. It had a monochrome screen that could rotate 180 degrees. Swipe the screen and you’ll find a full QWERTY keyboard and trackball.
The Sidekick wasn’t the first smartphone, but it featured downloadable apps, email, instant messaging, and even cloud service.
The Sidekick has become a status symbol for celebrities. Do a Google search for Sidekick phones from the 2000s and you’ll find it in the hands of top movie stars, athletes and musicians.
3.Motorola Razr V3
The Razr was launched in 2004 and once again cooled flip phones. The Razr V3 had a 1.3 megapixel camera, a color screen, and a sleek aluminum body. The Razr had been on the market for four years and sold 130 million units, making it the most popular flip phone of all time.
A hot pink version was released in 2005, and our very own Kim Komando wore one.
Motorola released a new version of the Razr in 2020 with an OLED display and a 16-megapixel camera. Tap or click here to view our rollback report.
4. Mulberry Pearl
BlackBerry started out as a pager brand and in 2006 took its share of the smartphone market with the Pearl, named for the backlit rollerball above the keyboard. The Pearl lacked a full keyboard and used predictive input to keep the design slim.
Production of the Pearl lasted four years, with improvements in camera, storage capacity and resolution. A flip version of the Pearl was released in 2008. The Pearl is the best-selling BlackBerry phone with 15 million units sold.
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You know your phone is a hit when it becomes a meme. The Nokia 3310 was released in 2000 and has since earned a reputation as the most powerful mobile phone ever made. A quick Google search will reveal videos of the 3310 being shot down, run over and dropped from the tops of buildings.
This Nokia’s 3310 isn’t exactly “smart” by today’s standards, and it lacked a camera. But there was a stopwatch, calculator, SMS messaging, and support for a few games.
The 3310 sold 126 million units during its five-year run. Nokia relaunched the 3310 in 2017, updating the phone with a web browser, voice recorder and 2-megapixel camera.
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6.Apple iPhone 6/6 Plus
The iPhone ushered in the touchscreen when the first model launched in 2007, and every other manufacturer followed suit. By the time the iPhone 6 was released in 2014, Apple had firmly established itself as a major player in the smartphone world.
The iPhone 6 featured Apple’s first Retina HD display, which was praised for its brightness and color. The 6 Plus was Apple’s first full-size model, with a 5.5-inch display. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are among the best-selling mobile phones of all time, with 220 million units sold.
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7. LG Chocolate Phone
LG’s Chocolate slider phone was released in North America in 2006 with a QVGA display, MP3 player, 1.3 megapixel camera and circular touchscreen.
The Chocolate had a sliding panel that hid a traditional number pad. Rumor has it that early versions of the original LG Chocolate smartphone smelled like chocolate. The first generation chocolate sold 21 million units.
8. Samsung Galaxy Note 7
This one is more infamous than iconic. Samsung popularized the phablet with its Galaxy Note series, which lasted 10 years and ended in 2021. The Galaxy Note 7 was launched in August 2016 and was pulled from the market two months later.
The Note 7 was Samsung’s first phone to feature a USB-C connector. It featured a 5.7-inch curved OLED screen, a 12-megapixel rear camera, and an iris recognition system to unlock the phone. The phone proved popular when it was launched and sold well.
Then the fires happened. Note 7 users were reporting that their phones were overheating and catching fire. This was due to a battery fault which caused a short circuit. Samsung released software updates to limit battery drain and recalled units to replace their batteries, but those also caught fire.
Although overheating issues only affected a small percentage of phones, the FAA banned these phones from all flights. Samsung has recalled all Note 7s and sent fire-retardant bags for customers to use for returns. The Note 7 even made our list of epic tech failures.
9. Samsung Galaxy S3
If anyone had a chance to rival Apple’s iPhone behemoth, it was Samsung. The first Galaxy S was released in 2010 and was well received for its processor speed, camera and audio quality.
The Galaxy S3 was launched in 2012 with a marketing campaign that denounced the iPhone and its loyal customers. The S3 had a 4.8-inch OLED display, NFC capability, and wireless charging. Galaxy S3 users could touch their phones together to share content.
The S3 and its variants have sold 80 million units, making it Samsung’s most popular phone. Has Samsung redeemed itself from the catastrophic Note 7? It’s up to you to decide.
That’s it. The best-selling mobile phone of all time is the Nokia 1100, with 250 million units ending up in our hands. The 1100 was introduced in 2003 and had a production run of six years.
The Nokia 1100 had programmable ringtones, a stopwatch, calculator and flashlight and was available in neat colors. The lack of features contributed to the long battery life.
The Nokia 1100 sold for around $100, making it popular in countries where smartphones were a luxury beyond the reach of the general population.
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