Traditionally the biggest month in the mobile phone calendar
because of the Mobile World Congress show, February 2004 and 2009
saw a plethora of devices, but how many do we still remember five
and ten years on?
One of Nokia's well-loved "Brick" Communicators, the
smartphone unfolded to reveal a wide 4.5"
screen and a full QWERTY keyboard plus WiFi support in what was
essentially a very tiny laptop computer. However, weighing in at
230 grams and commanding a serious price tag, the 9500 was certainly
not to everybody's tastes.
Much rarer than the Nokia 9500 but with a similar concept, the
just plain "Motorola MPx") was a Windows smartphone with
a clever two-way hinge which meant that it could be used either
in QWERTY keyboard mode or as a more traditional clamshell. Technical
problems meant that the MPx300 only sold in very small quantities,
and as a result it's one of the rarest Motorola phones that we know
Another attempt at a Windows smartphone was the Motorola
which was in a very traditional format and would have
competed directly against many of Nokia's similar Symbian smartphones,
but it was cancelled before launch. Back in 2004 Motorola were continually
looking for new styles of device, and the Motorola
was a high-end and very unusual rotating phone.
Panasonic was also trying to carve a niche in the smartphone
market with the Symbian-based Panasonic
, but Panasonic were becoming increasingly outclassed and
it certainly showed from the X700's modest specifications. Another
Japanese clamshell, the Sharp
was a very advanced feature phone for its time with
a 1.1 megapixel camera, QVGA display, Bluetooth, expandable memory
and an MP3 player.
One of many solar powered devices to be announced in 2009, the
was an attractive touchscreen device that may have
seemed like the beginning of a new era of environmentally-friendly
devices. But the problem with all handsets of this type is that
the solar panel on the back actually provides very little power
and it means that users would also have to leave the phone lying
around to soak up the sun, something that might lead to the device
being stolen. However, more practical "solar briefcases"
are now available which can charge a variety of gadgets more effectively
In 2009 HTC was the company to watch with a growing variety of
attractive and well-regarded Windows and Android devices. The HTC
was an attractive and powerful Windows handset,
but even with highly competent smartphones such as this it seemed
that Windows couldn't see off Android, in this case in the guise
of the HTC Dream
and HTC Magic
two first generation Android devices that lacked the polish of the
Touch Diamond2 but ultimately led Android's charge to become the
world's leading smartphone OS.
While companies such as HTC had fully committed to the sort of
touchscreen devices that we would recognise as being a smartphone
today, Nokia was still doing its own thing with a range of Symbian
devices that seemed to misjudge the market. The Nokia
came with an 8 megapixel camera, FM radio, GPS, WiFi
and 3.5G support.. but no touchscreen. The Nokia
had a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and the Nokia
had a BlackBerry Pearl style keyboard, rather ignoring the
rapid growth of devices with an on-screen keyboard instead. February
2009 was a disappointing
year for many Nokia fans who hoped
for something better.
smartphone is the only "Omnia" phone to run
Symbian (the rest ran Windows), and it wasn't really an HD device
either although it did
sport a 3.7" 360 x 640 pixel
touchscreen and 8 megapixel camera. Samsung also tried to attract
music fans with the touchscreen Samsung
feature phone - but despite an impressive amount of
effort and a lot of press buzz, the BEAT DJ quickly sank into obscurity.
Sony Ericsson was also trying to impress with touchscreen Symbian
devices, and the Sony
(later released as the Satio) had a slightly smaller
display than the Samsung but it came with a 12.1 megapixel camera
that was something that most rivals couldn't even get close to.
A more conventional device was the Sony
, a high-end "Walkman" addition to what
was by then an overstuffed product line-up.
Launched in a fanfare of publicity and dubbed an "iPhone
killer" at the time, the LG
has a lot of nice features but consumers were
not really interested. A rather more off-the-wall and radical idea
was the LG
which not only sported a touchscreen, but had
a transparent slide-out keypad which was also touch sensitive, a
device with plenty of "wow factor" it was also something
of a dead-end.
Toshiba are well-known for Windows laptops, but they could never
quite translate that success to Windows phones. The Toshiba
was fast, had a big high-resolution display and it was
attractively designed, but it wasn't a success, perhaps due in part
to the inclusion of a resistive screen rather than a capacitive
one, the large footprint and the declining popularity of Windows
A completely different approach to any other phone ever, the
a very tiny phone with a collection of multifunction jackets that
could extend the function of the device. But cleverness is no substitute
for understanding the market and when the modu range finally came
to market, the market largely ignored it.. which of course means
that these are rare and very collectible handsets today. Also on
the tiny side, the almost disposable Hyundai
Mobile MB-105 Chico
cost just $20 or so and was smaller than
a credit card, and despite its limited functionality it was at least
a lot cheaper to drop in a puddle than an iPhone.