On the flight back home from SFO last Friday, I got to thinking about cell phones. I was fiddling with my iPhone, listening to music, wondering if it would get a signal if I took it out of Airplane Mode, then paranoid that it might crash the plane. Luckily, I didn’t have an Airplane mode moment like Jeff did.
It’s a very cool device, and while thinking about how far cell phones have come, I realized I got my first cell about ten years ago. So, to make the time go faster, I cataloged all the phones I’ve owned and what I thought of them. What follows is a walk down memory lane, with some editorial comments about cell phones.
Skip it if you want, or better yet, share your thoughts and your list of phones.
1. The Nokia Brick
I couldn’t find a picture of my first phone, but it was a Nokia, shaped like a brick, that looked very similar to the one in this picture. The size representation is fairly accurate. It was dense like a brick too, mostly battery weight, with a pull up antenna. Aside from the novelty, it was a pain to: 1) remember to use it at all and 2) find it in my laptop bag. The battery life was pathetically short, too, which meant it was forgotten on the charger very frequently.
Pros: The novelty factor was really high, my very own big boy cell phone.
Cons: I really dislike the pull up antenna. The reception was spotty analog at best. It was heavy and could be used as a weapon. The battery died early and often.
2. The Nokia Banana
My next model was the chubby, banana-shaped Nokia 6000-something, very similar to the picture. This was an improvement. The battery lasted longer, the phone was small enough to go into a coat pocket, not pants though unfortunately, and the pull-up antenna was gone. This model was just a tough as its predecessor and equally dense. I dropped that sucker many times, with barely a scratch.
Pros: The banana model was smaller than the brick phone and dumped the pull-up antenna. It was a corporate phone, very common and very serviceable.
Cons: It was still too small to carry in my pocket, and its ubiquity meant confusion if you left it on a table at work. The battery still drained pretty fast. You could buy a bigger battery, but that made the phone more of a banana and less portable.
3. My First Clam Shell
By 2000, the banana Nokia was a dinosaur, and I had phone envy for the Motorola StarTAC. This sleek baby fit in my pocket, which has always been my primary criterion for a phone or pager (remember those?). I do not wear belt attachments. Those are fine for other people, just not for me. So, I was really stoked to get my very own StarTAC, the first phone I can remember that went by its name in the common parlance. These were so common that for a while there, StarTAC replaced phone as a noun.
Pros: It fit in my pocket. The battery life was way better, and the unit weighed a fraction of what the Nokia banana model did. Did I mention it fit in my pocket?
Cons: I’ve never been that crazy about the flip phone, mostly because it’s not very comfortable for talking more than 5 minutes at a time. I don’t wear a watch, and this model didn’t have the time on the outside, like its predecessors do, so I was constantly opening it. Again, this was a really popular phone, so losing it in a crowd was a constant risk.
4. The Zoolander Nokia
The 8200-something Nokia was so small and fit easily in my pocket. It was the perfect size, plus it was a lot tougher than the StarTAC. I think this was the first phone I had came with an email address, so I could get emails. Its screen was pretty big, since it wasn’t a clam shell. So, messages were relatively easy to read. This little guy was almost too small. I always felt like Derek Zoolander when I talked on my ridiculously small phone.
Pros: Did I mention it fit in my pocket? It got email, which was sweet, had good battery life and was pretty tough. I eventually cracked the screen, but that was after a lot of drops, the downside to a small phone.
Cons: It wasn’t very comfortable for talking, and I had to hold it like a teacup. I had it for a while, and as other phones went to color and other sexy features, it got old quickly.
This post is getting pretty long, so I’m going to cut it off here, with a plan to continue with Part 2, phones 5-8 tomorrow or sometime. What phones have you had? Listing all these phones is making me feel bad, like I should have kept them longer (and out of a landfill). However, my guess is you’ll never hear the phrase, “the last cell phone you’ll ever own”. Sound off in comments and stay tuned for Part 2.