With so much ground-breaking smartphone tech arriving on the scene every year, it’s easy to forget how far the industry has come in the last few decades. From multi-lens camera setups to 5G connectivity and AI-powered apps, there’s no end to the capabilities of modern smartphones, but the simplicity of the old handsets still seems to have a certain appeal.
We take a look at the iconic retro mobiles that pre-date smartphones, unpack exactly what made them so memorable, and recommend their modern equivalents.
1. Nokia 3310, 2000
Widely acclaimed for its extreme durability, the Nokia 3310 was an instant hit, and quickly became one of the most popular handsets on the market. With no headphone jack, camera or internet connection, this device is a far cry from the handsets we’re accustomed to now. But with predictive text, a phonebook, stopwatch and a calculator, it could do the essentials.
Storage wasn’t yet established as a key component for mobiles, so call records were capped at 8 dialed, 8 received and 8 missed, but there were 35 different ringtones to choose from. By far the most exciting feature this retro phone had to offer was a handful of staple Nokia games, including Pairs II, Space Impact, Bantumi and the fan-favourite, Snake II.
In 2021, the smartphone landscape has changed drastically, but Nokia continues to release reliable handsets packed with contemporary specs. If you’re looking for a basic, resilient device with a battery that’s sure to outlast your expectations, the Nokia 105 v5 brings all the best bits of the 3310 back to life. At such a low price point, it’s the ideal choice for travelling overseas, unruly festival conditions or an older relative who likes to keep it simple.
2. LG Chocolate KG800, 2006
A few years later, as mobile designs were gradually becoming more varied, the LG Chocolate KG800 entered the UK tech market. Recognisable by its compact rectangular shell and distinctive sliding mechanism, this vintage phone was especially popular thanks to the chocolate-inspired shape of its keyboard.
Rather than the standard configuration of menu buttons, the LG Chocolate featured a navigational touchpad that glowed red, situated just beneath its full-colour screen.
Cameras had just become a standard inclusion on mobile phones, and this device had a 1.3MP lens with LED flash – so you could document your favourite noughties moments.
Since the launch of the Chocolate collection, LG has developed a wide range of advanced tech – including everything from TVs to tablets and smartphones. That said, earlier in 2021 the manufacturer announced they would be ceasing all production of their smartphone range in the near future.
3. Motorola Razr V3 (2004)
Motorola released a spate of different devices in the mid-noughties, from the affordable V220 to the smoothly-rounded Pebl, but perhaps the most prolific of these phones was the Motorola Razr V3. With its characteristic slender body and dual-screen design, this mobile was cutting-edge at the time of its release, and provided the functional bonus of ending each call with a snap.
The Motorola Razr was equipped with a single-lens rear camera, a loudspeaker for your favourite MP3 tracks, and a 2.2-inch display capable of 256,000 colours, compared to the standard 16 million in 2021.
Perhaps because it sold over 100 million units, it’s this device that’s often considered to be the archetypal flip phone, dominating the period where that mechanism was so fashionable.
Display technology has evolved considerably since then, and Motorola’s contemporary releases keep pace with industry-leading standards. Released in December 2020, the Motorola Moto E7 is just as intuitive to use as its distant predecessor. The Moto E7 features a 6.5-inch IPS LCD display, for an immersive viewing experience whether you’re gaming, catching up on your favourite Netflix Original, or just scrolling through socials.
4. Sony Ericsson W800i, 2005
A firm favourite amongst music lovers, the Sony Ericsson W800i had an eye-catching colour palette, with that signature orange of the Walkman branding. You could navigate the 1.8-inch LCD screen using a miniature joystick, which stood in for the usual central button and four surrounding arrows.
A 512mb memory card was supplied with every device, capable of storing over a hundred songs – which was no mean feat for a phone at this time. Other key features included a built-in radio with RDS, a fully functional MP3 player, and complimentary earphones.
If sound quality is still your priority, then Sony’s more recent lineup won’t disappoint. Released in early 2020, the Sony Xperia 1 II comes with Dolby Atmos sound and true front stereo speakers. So whether you’re recording your own footage on the quad-lens camera system, or simply streaming a movie, you’ll enjoy cinematic, multi-dimensional sound, courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Don’t forget you can find brilliant contract and SIM-only deals on the latest iPhone and Android devices, here at Mobiles.co.uk.