The Mobile World Congress usually takes place in February, and as a result
this is the biggest month in the calendar for new releases. We look
at some of the more memorable devices announced five and ten years
ago this month.
(otherwise known as the HTC Universal
and a wide
variety of other names) was one of the first smartphones that really
did try to offer everything including the kitchen sink. It had a
3.6" VGA-resolution display, QWERTY keyboard, 3G, WiFi and
Bluetooth connectivity, dual cameras and expandable memory. The
Universal ran Windows Mobile 5.0 and it was probably the most powerful
smartphone launched up until that point. It never sold in great
numbers and is quite rare today.
Motorola announced several devices this month, but not all of
them came to market. The Motorola
was an attempt to bring RAZR-type design to a monoblock
phone. Although we noted at the time that the SLVR had a ramshackle
launch, it went on to sell quite well. Alongside it was the Motorola
which tool the same basic package and put it into a pebble-like
clamshell, although what eventually got to market was not as interesting
as the device that was originally shown.
was one of a series of phones that were announced and
eventually cancelled. This device had 3G, a QVGA display, expandable
memory and a 3 megapixel camera with a photo light, and it ever
it had come to market it would have easily out-specified most of
the competition. Announced alongside it was the Motorola
which was basically a cheaper but still useful 3G phone,
but this was also cancelled. The promising-looking Motorola
smartphone would also have been highly competitive, but
this too was canned. Instead, Motorola concentrated on underpowered
feature phones such as the RAZR, SLVR and PEBL which eventually
led to catastrophe.
Nokia were beginning to develop some very competitive 3G devices,
and the Nokia 6680
ran Symbian (which made it a smartphone, even if it didn't have
a touchscreen), supported video calling and also had expandable
memory. At this moment in time, Nokia had the edge in usability
and the 6680 (and the 2G 6681 and 6682) sold rather well.
Symbian again featured in the British Sendo
, a device that would have competed well with everything in
its class, except that Sendo went bust and many of their technologies
ended up with Motorola instead.
Also at MWC we saw the Sony
, a 3G phone in a rather elegant package, the almost
impossibly compact 3G Samsung
and the almost impossibly rugged Siemens
The HTC Desire
was a highly successful Android smartphone with a 3.7" OLED
WVGA screen, 1GHz processor and it was very elegantly designed.
The Desire was one of the first Android 2.1 phones on the market,
so it shipped with a much more polished and stable OS than earlier
Android devices. The cheaper HTC
Legend was launched alongside it, featuring a more elegant metal
design but the modest specifications meant that it never really
became a legend at all.
Featuring an absurdly long pair of names, the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini and the Sony Ericsson XPERIA
X10 Mini Pro were two very tiny Android devices, each featuring
a 2.55" QVGA screen and a full Android feature set. The Pro
version came with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and the standard
version weighed just 88 grams. Although they were quite popular,
the tiny screen also rendered them fairly useless except for really
basic tasks which a feature phone might have done better, and they
were quite unlike the superlative full-sized XPERIA X10 in every
Following on from the Vivaz launched in January, the Sony Ericsson
Vivaz Pro added a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and looked promising
on paper, but the cheap touchscreen and general consumer indifference
towards its Symbian operating system meant that it was something
of a failure, and this was Sony Ericsson's final Symbian device.
Where the Vivaz marked something of the end of an era for Sony
Ericsson, the Sagem Puma phone was the end of an era for this
French manufacturer. The final Sagem handset to market, this touchscreen
feature phone was made in conjunction with sportswear company Puma.
Despite some interesting features (such a solar panel), it was not exactly a game changer.
Five years ago manufacturers were still trying to sell touchscreen
feature phones, with the very elegant and compact LG GD880 featured
alongside the LG Cookie Plus, a replacement for the popular Cookie.
In the end, smartphones simply got cheaper and wiped this sort of
A detour into kitschiness, the Samsung Diva was an attempt to
make a "girly" compact touchscreen phone, with a quilted back
and a jewel-shaped navigation key on the front. But the feature
set was very disappointing, and frankly the whole thing was rather
Toshiba are well-known for their Windows laptops, but they had
struggled to make an impact in the smartphone market. The Windows-based
Toshiba TG02 and K01 attempted to build on the slightly successful
TG01. Although the package had some powerful features, it came at
a time when Windows sales were tanking, and the tiny 1000 mAh battery
meant that it would run out of juice quite quickly.
Like the Siemens M75 from five years before, the Sonim XP2 Spirit
was designed to be very tough, but Sonim took toughness to an entirely
new level. Housed in a tough, waterproof chassis the XP2 Spirit
could probably survive just about any environment that you would
want to use a phone in.
The competition from Android meant that sales of Windows phones
had almost collapsed, but Microsoft was not prepared to give up.
Instead, they went away and completely rethought how a smartphone
should work and they came up with the radical Windows Phone 7 instead.
In particular, the user interface was very different from rivals
and it felt much more modern, and it was very usable on a small
device. However, when Microsoft attempted to add this modern UI
to their desktop operating systems then things started to go wrong.
The Maemo-based Nokia N900 had been announced the previous year,
and many people were expecting Nokia to announce a follow-up device
at MWC. What happened instead was that Nokia announced that they
would merge their Maemo OS with Intel's Moblin OS and come up with
a new platform called MeeGo. This was a catastrophic decision as
it meant that there was no follow-up to the N900 at a crucial time,
and Nokia didn't manage to ship a MeeGo phone until late in 2011.
This disruptive merger is probably a major reason why Nokia no longer
exists as an independent mobile phone manufacturer today, however
MeeGo still lives on, having been absorbed into the Tizen and Jolla