Cast your mind back and think of a classic Nokia. Perhaps you are thinking of the 3210, the 6310i or the N95. Whatever you are thinking of, it’s probably one of Nokia’s signature monoblock or candy bar designs. But Nokia could also make some interesting clamshell phones, and in June 2004 they launched a trio of innovative designs.
Sitting at the top of the pile was the Nokia 6260. Not just any old clamshell phone, but a Symbian S60 smartphone to boot. This was Nokia’s first attempt to put Symbian in a clamshell, and this was certainly competitive with other similar devices with downloadable native apps, a 176 x 208 pixel display and expandable memory.
But really, that was all boring stuff… because the 6260 also came with a novel rotating display. Possibly inspired by similar devices coming out of Japan, the 6260 could be used like a traditional clamshell or have the screen twisted around to create a sort of touchscreen-less tablet. Or if you wanted you could use it in pretty much any position in between.
The clever screen is perhaps what gave the 6260 its “wow factor” rather than the powerful Symbian OS underneath. Ultimately, the sort of users who liked Symbian weren’t really drawn to clamshell designs. Nonetheless, this is a very collectable Nokia handset with typical prices being £70 or more.
Where the 6260 had hidden depths, the lower-cost Nokia 6170 didn’t. A very basic phone in terms of technical specifications, the 6170 came with a gorgeous design that made this a very desirable handset.
Not a million miles away from the 6260 in terms of understated squared-off design, the 6170 was clad in an etched stainless steel housing. Even the NOKIA name was discretely etched into the steel, and the phone looked just as good on the inside as on the outside, along with a small colour display.
The lack of Bluetooth was certainly a hindrance in what could have otherwise made a decent business phone, but overall the 6170 was quite usable despite its simplicity. Today, examples in decent condition will cost around £30 or so.
2004 was certainly in the middle of Nokia’s “weird period” when it came to design, and given that their only other foray into clamshell design was the fabric-clad 7200 you might think that Nokia would want at least one sober design. Well, instead the Nokia 2650 was the weirdest to date.
On the outside, the 2650 looked like nothing at all. A plastic case with NOKIA written on it, an exercise in utterly minimalistic design. But open the 2650 up and it revealed an amazingly retro-futuristic design of flexible plastic that looked like a cross between a prop from a Sci-fi show and a sun lounger.
A very basic (and inexpensive) phone underneath, the 2650 always polarised opinions and even fifteen years later it a love-it-or-hate-it proposition. It does however represent the sort of fresh thinking that phone designers had a decade-and-a-half ago, an approach which is sorely lacking today. Again, £30 or so will get you one in decent condition if you want one.
Nokia never really did crack the clamshell market, and of course in the long run it didn’t matter anyway. But Nokia handsets from this era are highly collectable, and these three are certainly no exception to that rule.
Image credits: Nokia