Skip to content
Search the BBC
The evolution of the mobile phone
4 April 2013
Last updated at 07:56
Check out how mobile phones have changed from the first chunky handset in 1983 to the latest quad core models now on the market.
Motorola DynaTAX 8000X (1983): The first commercial handheld cellular phone. Loved by business people and ladies with large shoulder pads who would yell "buy... sell" into it. It weighed more than a house and didn't even do picture messaging. The first mobile phone was used in New York 10 years before by a Motorola engineer.
Nokia 1011 (1992): One of the first phones to use the new GSM phone system. Because the signal was digitally encoded, random snoopers with radio receivers were no longer able to listen-in to your private conversations.
Motorola StarTac (1997): "Scotty. Beam me up" was what sci-fi fans would have said, had their battery lasted long enough. This Star Trek tribute mobile phone was one of the first to pose the eternal handset dilemma – to flip or not to flip.
Nokia 5110 (1998): Arguably the first 'fashion' phone. Interchangeable multi-coloured fascias allowed users to customise their handsets. Helped by the hugely addictive game 'snake', it became one of the most popular mobiles ever.
Motorola MPx200 (2002): One of the first phones with Windows Smartphone OS. Users could email, instant message and install applications. But Microsoft didn't maintain its innovation and CEO Steve Balmer said in 2009: "We screwed-up with Windows Mobile."
Motorola A920 (2003): Forget boring old speech, the arrival of 3G data speeds meant a brave new world of video calling. Unfortunately nobody really wanted to see or be seen while chatting on their mobile. To this day the feature remains hugely under-used.
Blackberry 6210 (2003): Originally aimed at the business market, Canadian company RIM launched the Blackberry and introduced the concept of mobile email addiction. The company had problems in 2011 though when millions of people were left without services like BBM, email and internet. RIM's latest profits also took a massive dip and the company has said it will re-focus on its business customers.
Nokia N70 (2005): Back when installing apps was still the preserve of geeks, Nokia sneaked this smartphone into the hands of regular folk by making it look like a normal phone. It was, however, capable of running sophisticated games and programmes.
Apple iPhone (2007): They called it the 'god device' - the first iPhone turned the mobile world upside down and helped make apps mainstream. Apple's device has had a few problem though, with users complaining about things like battery life and signal issues. The latest version - the 5 - came out last year. Some people were underwhelmed by the hardware upgrades but Apple still sold 37 million of them in the last quarter of 2011.
HTC's One X (2012): One of the new generation of phones to feature a quad core processor. Its 4.7 inch display and eight megapixel camera also reflect the trend for larger screen sizes and better quality photos . It runs on the latest version of Google's Android operating system. Android is the main rival to Apple's iOS. Its open source nature has proven popular with developers and handset makers.
Nokia Lumia 900 (2012): The Lumia runs on a new mobile version of Windows and many critics have been impressed with its design. It's the Finnish company's attempt to claw back customers after its Symbian powered phones failed to compete with the likes of the iPhone in recent years. In January, Nokia's sales were down 21% on a year earlier and according to recent research it's no longer the world's biggest phone maker.
Samsung's Galaxy S3 phone had a bigger screen than its rivals and could recognise when users were looking at it in order to keep the screen unlocked. The firm accounted for one in four of all mobile phones shipped worldwide in 2012, as shipments rose nearly 20% to 396.5 million.
Sony announced a new smartphone that can be used in the shower or bath without the risk of damage in February. The Xperia Z can also record HDR (high dynamic range) video, a facility borrowed from its camera division.
Share this story