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Godfathers to the Game
The current landscape of EVOs and iPhones was not always the plethoric industry of high-end tech and innovation. Do you remember your first “cell” phone? Each strangely crafted of either cheap plastic or ridiculous alloys and extremely limited in features and functions. But early on, it wasn’t about what your phone did, just that you had one; and it was so sweet. Wow, what an exciting time it was. The ability to call someone from any location without the hassle of needing pockets full of coins for the archaic telephone booth felt like the “future”. Mobile devices have gone through a tremendous and light-speed evolution that has no signs of slowing in sight. First, no longer being referred to as “cell” phones, and secondly, being the equivalent of early 21st century desktops, the devices we have now grown to eerily love and carry incessantly are the spawn of successful, failed, weird, ahead-of-its-time-tech, and every wistful attempt at wireless supremacy. We pay homage to eight phones (classic and current) that laid the foundation for what we know today as the mobile industry.
Anytime you think of the name “Nokia”, it is impossible to not see the 3310 phone pop to the front of your thoughts. Who did not own this phone? It was inexpensive and widely available across all TDMA providing carriers, the phone became the staple of accessibility and convenience for all ages. Especially the teens, like me at the time, all had literally changed the face of their phone. The 3310 was about 100% customization. You, could rock the basic blue case but there wasn’t 13-19 year old who did not own three or more unique cases. Ringtones had a huge boom in the mid-aughts but were sparked in 2001 as the 3310 had the ability to receive sms which included some music formats. Small, cheap, and customizable, it had the ingredients for greatness.
All suits and corporate types were like moths to any flame the Blackberry brand emitted. Having a previous standard screen on the 6000 models, manufacturer Research in Motion (now known as Blackberry) released the 7230 with full color display. When it came to messaging and its e-mail client software, the Blackberry device was simply a beast and later used by numerous manufacturers such as Palm, HTC, and Nokia. Every stroke of the front-faced QWERTY keyboard made sending all forms of messages seamless as the Blackberry brand helped usher the transition to digital mail.
The phone was not made to win a fashion show but rather to endure splashes of ocean water, a fall from over 100ft. , or a small explosion. It met military specs for ruggedness so it was built to actually survive a simple drop from 5ft. , enough said about design. It is not well known like its other Push-To-Talk companions but had the same technology and durable build to be completely unique from the rest of the market. At the time of release, the Nextel brand was already suffering from news of signal interference with two-way radios causing consumers crazy headaches (not literally). Their cellular service was awful, causing their push-to-talk, which also used tower relay, to be just as bad. This device simply got lost in the shuffle.
Was the N-Gage a phone or a gaming device? It was simply a mess. It was poorly supported and barely worked in even the most optimal signal areas. Still, it tried to make mobile gaming easy and continuous; a feat to be achieved first by Apple’s iPhone. For the attempt I give an “A for effort”.
Shiny, sleek, and completely coveted, the Motorola RAZR was the most sought after phone of its 2004 release. They were limited in numbers, celebs only had certain colors (Black RAZR in Academy Award SWAG bag circa ‘05), they originally cost a fortune ($600 with Cingular), and everyone wanted it. The aluminum body and outer glass screen had never been seen before. It also sported a 2.0 megapixel camera with supported video recording, one of the first from the clamshell designs. The sheer slim design made heads turn as it was originally marketed as a fashion phone. It became one of the best series of phones Motorola has sold to date.
Sony Ericsson W810
It wasn’t the super cool and chill black color, it wasn’t the 2.0 megapixel camera, it wasn’t the easy navigation of the interface, but it was the Walkman integration for music playback. Now, it was not the first phone able to play MP3s or any music format for that matter, but it was the first to dynamically make sound and music a primary function of the device that was as equally important as placing phone calls. It had a 20 MB internal memory with Memory Stick support of up to 4GB. The W810 was on to a need for music to be just as mobile as your telecommunications, a need no one knew they would later demand as a standard.
Apple shattered what was considered technological advancement and created a new image out of the broken glass. It changed the way we viewed mobile phones and later, laptops and computers. It wasn’t the first to introduce touchscreen, it just showed every other manufacturer how to do it right. Music, videos, photos, and web browsing were fantastic achievements. Navigation (iffy at best) and phone service (iffier than the navigation) however left much to be desired. Not much is perfect on the first attempt but it was close and still remains a revolutionary device.
Samsung Galaxy S II
So many devices took their shot at the iPhone and simply were unable to breach the force-field crafted by Apple. The Samsung Galaxy S II brought its own flair, innovative features, and marketplace to the mobile battlefield and penetrated the impenetrable shield of Apple. If it will topple the juggernaut is an entirely other story but as of today, it remains the only device that has now caught Apple’s attention and has made for the competition of the manufacturers technologically important and an industry necessity. Without Samsung, Apple would have an eventual monopoly on the touchscreen and overall mobile platform. With Samsung, it ensures consumers (you and I) will have every current and new manufacturer bring their best to the market with hopes of capturing the "number one headband".