Aug 5, 2022, Mobile

When did cell phones come out? A quick history of mobiles

Aneta Skoczewska Business Consultant
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Did you know that a cell phone is almost 50 years old? A pioneering invention used to make the first wire-free connection was a mobile handset developed by Motorola in 1973. The first conversation with its use took place only 10 years later, and the creator of the device used this breakthrough moment to phone his biggest competitor from Bell Labs. However, we had to wait a bit longer to introduce mobile phones for everyday use. How did this story begin and where is today's smartphone market heading? Let's start with the early 1980s.

1983: first cell phone

The portable handset was introduced to the mobile market under the name Motorola DynaTAC 8000X in 1983. Unfortunately, due to the horrendous price (about $ 10,000 today), only a few could afford it. Although the size of a brick and the weight of almost 2 kilos made it impossible to fit into a pocket, it was still a considerable mobile revolution in the world of ten-kilogram suitcase-like equipment. It took 10 hours to load, worked for about 30 minutes of conversation, and allowed making calls only in downtown Chicago. Yet, from the very beginning it became a titbit for wealthy businessmen who treated it as a token of their material status.

1992: Mobile world opens for a broader audience

Another revolution broke less than 10 years later, when mobile phone manufacturers finally opened up for ordinary users and released new models at affordable prices. The first cell phone available to the masses was presented in 1992 by Nokia. The 1011 model was much smaller, weighed less than 500g, had a backlit, monochrome display and allowed for 1.5 hours of talk time. Plus, it was easy to use and worked perfectly as a simple calling device.

1997: Closer and closer to being a gadget

The second half of the 90s began to show that a mobile phone can be both a functional tool and a pretty cool gadget. 1997 brought Siemens S10 with its color displays, and although they only offered four colors, they began to set a new direction of change. In the same year, Hagenuk launched the first device without an external antenna, and brands such as Ericsson and Nokia introduced the element of customization and trends – interchangeable covers and front panels of the keyboard.



2000: Nokia 3310 – legend that ruled the world

​​The early 2000s came with mass-scale SMS texting. It was also the time when the iconic Nokia 3310 conquered the market – it was easy to use, indestructible, with the function of sending messages and calling. The 900 mAh battery life was up to a week, and the phone itself was able to survive a fall on the hardest surface without the slightest scratch. An additional lure was the built-in “Snake” game, as well as the ability to download your favorite ringtone or wallpaper.

2005: Internet revolutions and mini versions of smartphones

At the beginning of the 21st century, mobile phones were expanded with functions such as taking photos and connecting to the Internet. A user could use early browsers which were not as efficient as today’s ones, but they did their job. There was also a trend to produce ever smaller phones. A perfect example was Nokia 7600, which weighed only 123 grams and could easily fit in a shirt or trouser pocket.



2007: Touch screens and the first iPhone

It was 2007 when words such as “swipe” and “scroll” entered the global dictionary, and touch screens replaced traditional buttons, being a convenient binder for three devices in one – a camera, a phone and a computer with a browser and email. Interestingly, the pioneer in this area was not Apple and its first iPhone, but a slightly less popular LG brand with the Prada phone. However, the former made better use of the trend, presenting its proprietary iOS operating system which cooperated with Google Maps and iTunes.



2008: Android vs iOS

Another of the world’s leading operating systems, Android, arrived just a year after iOS with the HTC Dream T-Mobile G1. However, it differed significantly from the mobile systems we know today, and the phone still had a physical keyboard and a ball used for navigation. The same year came with the premiere of the App Store and Android Market (today Google Play), giving rise to the culture of mobile applications and creating a new industry valued currently at 77 billion dollars! Today, applications are not only the domains of large enterprises, but above all the works of hundreds of talented programmers from around the world who constantly change the face of the Internet.

2012-18: the size of the screen matters

The 4G network, enhanced Internet browsing capabilities, improved streaming and video calling triggered the need for larger and more functional screens. In 2014, even previously reluctant Apple released its iPhone 6 Plus with a 5.5-inch display, which was as much as 57% larger than the first phone of this brand. Smartphones have also become much more powerful in terms of processors, memory, photo quality and data speed. They were also equipped with mobile payments, voice assistants, built-in heart rate monitors and various functions that effectively made us dependent on these versatile devices. Nonetheless, all of these extra amenities came at a price – battery life issues.



2022+: Awaited smartphones’ successors

Flexible smartphones that bend and adjust their shape to our needs like clocks in the famous Salvador Dali painting? Modular phones improved and modified with dedicated add-ons? Smart glasses that will completely take over the function of a smartphone? The future opens up exciting opportunities! What would your dream phone look like?

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