The most legendary mobile phones of the 21st century revealed

The most legendary mobile phones of the 21st century revealed

Mobile phones have been a staple for virtually everyone for the past 20 years, with Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy ranges some of the most sought-after pieces of tech on the market.
Whilst phones may have been far more modest some 20 years ago, they really began to balloon in popularity around the start of the millennium.
We wanted to find out how some of this century’s most notable handsets stack up in terms of sales, so we’ve researched the most dominant phones in their respective year of release to reveal the most legendary handset of the millennium so far.

God tier

Nokia 1100 (2003)

The humble ‘brick-like’ Nokia was released in 2003 and sports a thin, stylish design comfortably held in the palm of your hand. Although not equipped with a camera or Google Maps, this sturdy little handset offered customers a torch, an alarm, a ringtone composer, and was the most dominant phone on the market at the time.

iPhone 6/6 Plus (2014)

The eighth generation of the Apple handsets came out in 2014 and featured the first plus-size phone for customers, including a higher contrast picture to previous models on both versions. This iPhone came with all the bells and whistles, featuring a 1080-pixel camera with slo-mo video, as well as the capacity to use Apple Pay for the first time. The 6 Plus version of this iPhone boasts a screen almost an inch bigger than the regular handset, including landscape mode to replicate the display of an iPad, as well as extended battery life.

Motorola Razr V3 (2004)

Originally released in 2004, the Razr series became a mainstay of the Motorola range for years. Its slick thin clamshell design was cutting edge as one of the most advanced flip phones available, available in black or hot pink. This innovative handset also sported a mini-USB port for data as well as a headphone jack.

Nokia 3310 (2000)

This is one of an iconic series of phones released by Nokia, the first late in the year 2000. Its simplistic but tough plastic exterior helped this phone gain almost cult status as being virtually indestructible. It was one of the first of its kind to have an SMS text messaging function, as well as a calculator and a stopwatch – plus who could forget the classic game Snake II, which remains one of the most popular mobile phone games of all time.

Top tier

iPhone 5/5C/5S (2013-2014)

The introduction of iPhone 5 range provided fans with a smaller, slimmer model, which at the time was the slimmest smartphone on the market. Running on a faster processor despite being 25% smaller than its predecessor, the iPhone 5 handsets were the first versions Apple produced to use the smaller, lighter charger connector, which is still used today. Although the three models were very similar, the 5S introduced the Touch ID fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone.
The iPhone 5 came in either black or white, whilst there was a space grey and gold version for the 5S, and the 5C came in a variety of bolder colours such as blue, pink, yellow, and green. Despite all having dual cameras, there were differences in quality as you move up from the standard 5 up to the 5S.

iPhone X (2017)

iPhone X was a significant handset to be released by Apple by being the first iPhone to have an OLED screen. Its fingerprint recognition was replaced by a new Face ID authentication process not seen previously in other models. This model of iPhone saw significant changes to the user interface, becoming the first handset without the traditional home button, allowing customers to use gestures to navigate its various features. The X also houses the ‘notch’ on-screen feature, located at the top of the home screen.

Samsung Galaxy S3 (2012)

The third generation of the hugely popular Samsung Galaxy series, the S3 introduced a handset with curved edges, expanded hardware, and a 4.8-inch (120mm) touchscreen. Unlike its immediate predecessors, the S3 featured a home button at the bottom of the screen as well as an impressive 8-megapixel camera and a 2GB RAM processor. The Galaxy’s third version was available in several different colours, including white, black, grey, red, and brown.

Samsung Galaxy S6/S6 Edge (2015)

These hugely popular Samsung handsets boasted a 5x10 inch high-res display, complete with a huge 32GB or 64GB storage. Its sleek design came with curved edges, which the screen actually overlapped on the Edge version, providing customers with one of the most extensive displays ever made. Both came with phenomenal battery life, supported quick charge 2.0 devices, and enabled a split-screen app launching interface, letting users do multiple tasks on the go.


Samsung Galaxy S8 (2017)
Samsung rolled out the new S8 with a bigger ‘Plus’ model, which was bulked up with a larger screen as well as iris, and face recognition. Galaxy S8 were treated to a new suite of virtual assistant features known as Bixby, whilst the charge moved from Micro USB to USB-C for the first time, which worked with docking station accessories.

iPhone 12/12 Mini (2020)

Apple’s iPhone 12 range was only introduced last year but proved hugely popular across the market. The major upgrade was the introduction of an all-new super retina OLED screen, as well as 5G support, and its powerful 12-megapixel camera. As well as some of its more recent predecessors, the iPhone 12 features AirPod wireless headphone compatibility. The only difference between the 12 and 12 Mini is the physical size.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Series (2019)

The S10 aptly marked the 10th anniversary of the Galaxy S range and was packed with new features. Releasing five separate models (S10, S10E, S10+, S10 5G, and S10 Lite) offering customers the choice between plus size and smaller handsets, all equipped with three 12-megapixel lens cameras, with an additional front camera included for S10+ owners. All models supported 4K video playback and recording as well as 5G network connectivity. Notably, the S10 series was the final one to feature a headphone jack and was available in a huge variety of colours, from prism black to canary yellow.

iPhone 3G (2008)

Although not as advanced as its modern-day siblings, iPhone 3 was no less impressive back in 2008 when it was released. Despite being one of the earliest generations of the iPhone, the 3G saw the introduction of a more streamlined and slim design, whilst also being the first Apple handset to include turn-by-turn navigation and the App Store.

Samsung Galaxy S (2010)

At the time, this smartphone was a hugely popular and cutting-edge touch screen android device. At its peak, it was the slimmest (9.9mm) and fastest processing phone available and a new high-quality audio hub. It had a front and rear camera and allowed users to customise their home screen to suit their tastes. There was also a feature to customise shortcuts.

Lower Tier

Samsung Galaxy Note N7000 (2011)

Launching in late 2011, the Samsung Galaxy Note N7000 offered a 5.3” screen, 8MP camera, and the ability to shoot in 1080p video. Selling 16m units, this handset was by no means unpopular, but only represents a small percentage of global subscriptions at the time, earning it a place in the lower tier on our countdown.

iPhone 11 Pro/Max (2019)

The 13th generation of the flagship iPhones offered a newer jazzed-up version of the original 11. The Pro and Max introduced a triple-lens rear camera system, whilst the Max provided customers with an almost small tablet feel to their handset. The Pro is the only iPhone to include an 18W fast charger and included faster Wi-Fi and haptic touch instead of a 3D touch. The Pro was available in a variety of colours, including a never-before-seen midnight green.

Huawei P30/P30 Pro (2019)

Despite ranking in the lower tier, the Huawei P30 and P30 pro have plenty of incredible features to warrant their popularity. Launching in 2019, these handsets came with quad cameras shooting up to 40mp, a powerful Octa-core processor offering brilliant performance, and a modest price point too. Fast forward a couple of years and Huawei now owns the third-largest market share behind Apple and Samsung.

Nokia N95 (2007)

This was one of Nokia’s earlier smartphones and was made famous for its two-way sliding mechanism design, which could be used to access either the numeric keypad or media playback options. As well as having a high-brow 5-megapixel digital camera, equipped with flash, the N95 was the first Nokia to feature a fully-fledged GPS system. A key asset of this phone was its audio system, providing users with the option to upload MP3 and MP4, with built-in stereo speakers and Bluetooth.

iPhone (2007)

The original iPhone feels ancient now, but at the time of its release 14 years ago, the Apple iPhone was a pioneering product that set the stage for the emergence of smartphones. It was the slickest touchscreen handset on the market and the very first device to offer full access to the internet with the introduction of its safari browser. The iPhone had everything at your fingertips, introducing Apple music, its own dedicated maps app, and access to YouTube, all whilst working as a quick and smooth-running mobile phone.

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