Smartphones have taken over the world. They are one of the most important technological evolutions of our century.
So, how did we get here? How did we go from a can of a string to having the whole world in the palm of our hand? Well, we’re shedding light on the history of mobile phones to solve this complex question for you.
The history of mobile phones dates back to the discovery of the principle of telephones by Alexander Graham Bell in 1874. This watershed event in history brought to the limelight long-distance communication.
Mobile phones have undergone a tremendous transformation from simple to smart, becoming essential information and communication centers in contemporary life. The evolution of mobile phones happened at lightning-fast speed. We are going to take you through the history of mobile phones and how the latest trends in mobile technology support them.
- When Were Mobile Phones Invented?
- The 1980s Era: The First Ever Portable Mobile Phone
- The 1990s Era: The Mushrooming Demand for Cell Phones
- The Release of Nokia 1011: Dawn of Consumer Handsets
- Splash of Color: Inception of Color in Smartphones
- The 21st Century: Growth of Featured Phones
- The Revolution of Mobile Phones
- Making Mobile Phones Smarter: 2007 – 2010
- Mobile Phone: A Life Companion
- The Bigger, Better Mobile Phones: 2015 – 2018
- The Present Day: A Superfast World ⚡
- Key Milestones in the History of Mobile Phones 📅
- Way Forward
When Were Mobile Phones Invented?
Mobile phones, especially smartphones that have become our companions, are relatively recent inventions. The first mobile phone dates to 1908, when a US Patent for a wireless telephone was granted in Kentucky.
Engineers at AT&T created cells for mobile phone base stations in the 1940s, which led to the creation of mobile phones. The original mobile phones weren’t even truly mobile phones. They were two-way radios that made it possible for anyone to communicate, including taxi drivers and emergency services.
The original mobile phone networks used a single, extremely powerful base station that covered a considerably larger area than base stations with various cells (with the signal transmitted from one cell to another).
The 1980s Era: The First Ever Portable Mobile Phone
- Mobile Calling
The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, also known as the world’s first portable mobile phone, was released in 1983. At that time, it was a tremendous prestige symbol and cost a staggering $4000 USD. Two years later, Sir Ernest Harrison, the chairman of Vodafone, received the first mobile phone call in the UK.
Later, in 1989, Motorola released the 9800X or MicroTAC as a follow-up to the DynaTAC. This set the standard for the flip phone design used throughout the 1990s, which also had a fold-down keyboard cover.
The 1990s Era: The Mushrooming Demand for Cell Phones
- SMS, Oribtel TPU 901, 1992
- Games, Hagenuk MT-200, 1994
During the 1990s cellular revolution, cell phones gained popularity. Around 11 million people used mobile devices in 1990; by 2020, there were 2.5 billion users worldwide.
In this era, we saw a major evolution in the shape and size of smartphones. We saw the brick phones evolving into something much more portable. Designers worldwide worked together to produce some sleeky smooth products that could be easily bought and used.
The Release of Nokia 1011: Dawn of Consumer Handsets
The Orbitel TPU 900 was the first GSM device to go on sale in Europe in 1991, it wasn’t until 1992 that mobile phones were no longer only allowed for commercial use. Digital consumer phones with low costs were made possible by mass manufacture. With the release of the Nokia 1011 in that year, Nokia was one of the first to benefit from this transformation.
Splash of Color: Inception of Color in Smartphones
- Email, Nokia 9000, 1996
- Vibrate Alerts, Motorola StarTAC, 1996
- Color Screen, Siemens S10, 1997
The Siemens S10 brought the mobile phone display to life for the first time in 1997. Despite having options for only four colors, the S10 was a remarkable technological revolution. Hagenuk introduced the GlobalHandy, the first gadget without an external aerial, in the same year.
Later, Ericcson introduced interchangeable colored front keyboard panels, which significantly increased customization. Following the same trends, Nokia introduced the 5100 series, which was the first fashion-focused phone. It was named “Xpress-on” for its interchangeable and delightful covers.
The 21st Century: Growth of Featured Phones
- WAP, Nokia 7110, 1999
- Tri-Band, Motorola Timeport, 1999
- Video Calling, Kyocera VP210, 1999
- GPS Navigation, Benefon Esc!, 1999
- Predictive Text, Nokia 7110, 1999
- Camera, Sharp J-SH04, 2000
- Polyphonic Ringtones, Sony CMD j5, 2000
- MP3 Player, Samsung SPH-M1000, 2001
- Bluetooth, Ericcson R520m, 2001
- Memory Card, Siemens SL45, 2001
- MMS, Sony Ericcson T68i, 2002
The 7110, introduced by Nokia in 1999, was the first handset to utilize WAP (a means of accessing information over a mobile wireless network). The J-SH04, the world’s first camera phone, was released by Sharp a year later.
Even though it was only offered in Japan, it marked the beginning of the public’s infatuation with mobile photography. Western markets didn’t begin to show much interest in camera phones, though, until the Sony Ericsson T68i and its clip-on camera were released in 2002.
Interesting Read: How to Prevent a Phone from Overheating – Complete Guide 2022
The Revolution of Mobile Phones
- Realtone Ringtones, Nokia 3300, 2003
- Augmented Reality, Siemens SX1, 2003
- Wi-Fi, Calypso, C1250i, 2003
- Quad-Band, Sprint PCS International Phone IP-A790, 2005
- Waterproof, Casio GZ’One, 2005
- Full Web Browsing, Opera Mini, 2005
When 3G was introduced, download speeds increased to 2MBS in March 2003, with “3” being the first provider of the service in the UK. With its line of well-liked BlackBerry smartphones, including the 8100 Pearl, RIM made mobile email accessible to the public.
Video calling became possible in 2003 with the introduction of front-facing cameras on gadgets like the Sony Ericsson Z1010, but it was not widely used.
Making Mobile Phones Smarter: 2007 – 2010
- NFC Nokia 6131, 2006
- Capacitive Touchscreen, LG Prada, 2007
- Mobile Apps, Apple App Store, 2008
- Wireless Charging, Palm Pre, 2009
Swiping and scrolling have taken the place of the standard button-based input technique. Prior to the Apple iPhone, the LG Prada was the first touchscreen to hit the market in May 2007. Apple, however, proved to have a more powerful brand and a greater understanding of the potential of capacitive touchscreens.
Mobile Phone: A Life Companion
- Voice Control, Google Voice Control, 2010
- Dual Lens Camera, HTC Evo 3D, 2011
- Facial Recognitions, Symbian 3OS, 2011
- Fingerprint Scanning, Motorola Atrix, 2011
Smartphones, which offer much more than just communication services, have become an increasingly important part of modern life. In 2012, EE introduced the first 4G service in the UK, with download rates of up to 12 Mbps in 11 cities.
Before Apple introduced Siri to the market, Google Voice was the first voice recognition technology to become widely used. To take advantage of the expansion of mobile health & fitness, Samsung equipped its flagship Galaxy S5 with a built-in heart rate monitor.
The Bigger, Better Mobile Phones: 2015 – 2018
- Iris Scanner, Fujitsu Arrow NX F-04G, 2015
- Apple & Android Pay, 2015
- Bezel-Less Screen, Xiaomi Mix
- Notch, Sharp Aquos S2, 2017
- In-Display Fingerprint Sensor, Vivo X20 Plus UD, 2018
The ability to stream and make video calls has significantly improved thanks to the widespread adoption of 4G. To fully utilize these functionalities, screen sizes are continuing to increase.
The iPhone 7 Plus’s display is already 57% bigger than that of the 2007 model’s original iPhone. With the advent of Apple Pay and Android Pay, users now have the option of making purchases using their smartphones for mobile payments.
The Present Day: A Superfast World ⚡
- Pental-lens Camera, Nokia 9
Throughout May 2019, EE will roll out the first 5G service in the UK in six cities. The fifth-generation network aims to increase mobile gaming and ultra-high-resolution video streaming with significantly faster data speeds and dependability.
As all-screen experiences become more popular, OnePlus added a pop-up selfie camera to its flagship 7 Pro model to completely do away with the notch. Modern smartphones are expensive, but do you why? The answer is simple: the features being offered are good when compared to the price. Mobile phones are our camera, voice recorder, video editor, or even torch when you have nothing around.
Key Milestones in the History of Mobile Phones 📅
Dr. Martin Cooper, a Motorola employee, made the first mobile phone call ever in New York using a Dyna TAC phone prototype. Cooper made a call to a friend who was employed by rival AT&T. The phone weighed more than a kilogram, and charging it took ten hours!
Japan has long been on the cutting edge of technology, and in 1979 they introduced the first automated cellular network to be made widely available; it was, however, limited to automobiles. This is now known as “1G.”
Western borders of 1G are first reached in Scandinavia, followed by the UK and North America.
The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, the first mobile phone, goes on sale. It was outrageously expensive—$4000 USD.
In the UK, Michael Harrison placed the first-ever call on a mobile device. He dialed Sir Ernest Harrison, the Chairman of Vodafone at the time, who was his father.
The Motorola 9800X, with its flip-down keypad cover, is the first completely portable mobile phone to have hit the market.
The launch of the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phone led to the replacement of the 1G analog system with 2G digital cellular networks. Text messages, photo messaging, and multimedia communications (MMS) were made available by 2G, opening up a completely new channel for communication.
Richard Jarvis, director of Vodafone, received the first-ever text message on an Orbitel TPU 901 phone from Neil Papworth. It said, “Merry Christmas!”
IBM released the Simon, which had a touchscreen and an extremely early version of what is now known as “Apps.” It cost $899 and was only functional in 15 US states. As one of the smallest GSM phones available and with a selection of ringtones that included the legendary Grande Valse, now known as the Nokia tune, Nokia also introduced 2110 in Europe.
The Nokia 8110 was the first mobile device with the “slider” form factor. Due to its design, it earned the moniker “banana phone” and even made an appearance on the big screen in The Matrix. Additionally, it was the first gadget with a monochrome LCD screen. The Motorola StarTAC introduced the first flip phone or clamshell device, which was another first. Over 60 million units were sold worldwide.
The launch of the well-known game Snake on the Nokia 6110 heralds the advent of mobile gaming. With no external aerial, Hagenuk introduced the Global Handy; Ericsson introduced colored keyboard panels; and Siemens introduced the S10, the first smartphone with a colored screen. Mercury One2One launched the first pay-as-you-go service in the UK dubbed “Up 2 You.” Customers could top off their call credit, and it later changed its name to T-Mobile and then EE.
The Nokia 5110 was the first totally customizable phone, including replaceable faceplates (called “Xpress-on covers” by Nokia) that were extremely popular with the consumer market.
The Nokia 7110 becomes the first phone capable of viewing the web thanks to WAP, albeit in a condensed form that didn’t offer the full HTML experience we know today.
The Sharp J-SH04, which is only available in Japan, has become the first camera phone on the market. The introduction of BlackBerry’s 857, which supports email and web browsing, marks the beginning of the company’s era as the king of business phones. Additionally, Nokia introduced the Nokia 3310, which is arguably the most famous phone in history. 126 million units were sold.
Ericcson T68i and Mitsubishi Trium Eclipse are the first full-color displays to enter the market. The Nokia 5510, which included a qwerty keyboard, also made a debut, but the 8310, with its sleek look and cutting-edge features like Infrared, a fully functional calendar, and an FM radio, ended up being the most popular phone.
The Nokia 7650, Europe’s first camera phone, was made available. Additionally, T-Mobile said that the Sony Ericsson T68i would provide the first photo messaging service in the UK. The 0.3-megapixel color imaging resolution of the 7560 was 640 x 480 pixels.
The Nokia 1100, which has sold more than 200 million units, is the Finnish company’s best-selling phone of all time. 3G networks, which offer data transfer speeds three to ten times faster than 2G, are starting to spread over the world. This made it possible for consumers to start using location-based services, watch video clips, and take part in video conferences.
Between 2004 and 2006, Motorola introduced the Razr V3, one of the most well-known mobile devices with a “fashion” focus. It is the best-selling clamshell device of all time, with over 130 million copies sold, and it set the bar for upcoming slimline designs.
Google purchased the Android mobile operating system, demonstrating the Mountain View company’s commitment to mobile technology. As the first waterproof phone, the Casio G’zOne ignited a trend toward smartphones receiving IP certifications.
The first genuine smartphone experience was offered with the release of the Nokia N95. It was the first 5-megapixel phone camera in the world, ran Symbian, and had 160 MB of RAM, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
The first iteration of the iPhone was introduced in June 2007. It was introduced by Steve Jobs and had a capacitive screen with an auto-rotate sensor that accepted simultaneous inputs while rejecting light touches. Without a doubt, it became a huge success right away.
The G1, the first Android phone, is made available. It has a slide-out keyboard and a small touchscreen. Microsoft also decides to discontinue Windows Mobile, citing that it cannot compete with iOS or Android.
It starts developing Windows Phone, a new operating system. Apple also opens the App store, which offers 552 apps for download.
During a movie night at a friend’s house, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Kou had the idea for the messaging service. TeliaSonera becomes the first operator to provide 4G services to clients in Sweden and Norway. In real-world terms, 4G networks tout data transfer rates that are five times faster than those of 3G networks.
Apple released the iPhone 4, but it had antenna issues. The Nexus One is the first officially licensed smartphone from Google.
Thanks to the Galaxy S II, which has an 8MP camera and an AMOLED display, Samsung has solidified their position as the largest global smartphone seller.
The fifth generation iPhone model debuts in September, five years after the original handset hit store shelves. Five million iPhone 5 handsets are sold in the first weekend.
Fingerprint scanning was introduced on the iPhone 5S using the touch button.
In the UK, 99% of people have access to 3G coverage at this time. Facebook purchases WhatsApp somewhere else for $19 billion.
Although Chinese companies Huawei and Xiaomi are making progress in Western markets, Samsung and Apple remain the industry leaders, with the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6S each accounting for 38% of the global market share. For the first time, 4G data traffic topped that of 3G. Despite only accounting for 14% of mobile connections in 2015, 4G now makes up 47% of all mobile data traffic.
Google introduced the Pixel and Pixel XL, two new high-end smartphones, in place of the Nexus branding. It is anticipated that both will directly compete with Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.
After only 7 years as a competitor to Android and iOS, Microsoft has decided to stop supporting the Windows Phone operating system. With over 82% screen-to-body ratio adoption by the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone X, screen design supremacy is continuing to grow.
The focus on on-screen real estate saw the advent of the ‘notch’ trend. Before the iPhone X gave it full prominence, the Sharp Aquos S2 and Essential Phone were the first to support the feature. This year marks the 25th anniversary of SMS messaging. Due to inadequate coverage, the service initially had difficulty becoming widely used but sends 22 billion messages daily today.
The Power 5 from Chinese company Ulefone features the largest battery ever seen in a mobile phone (13,000 mAh), which is more than four times bigger than Apple’s flagship, the iPhone XS Max, which was released in the same year.
Initial indicators suggest that real-world data transfer speeds will be 10 times higher than 4G as the UK and US start to install the 5G network.
Interesting Read: How Smartphones Affect Your Health?
Although it’s early 2021 and difficult to predict which phones will have the largest impact this year, we can confidently say that 5G phones dominate the market.
Although folding display phones are still in their infancy, it appears that manufacturers are committed to making them widely available. Second-generation folding phones are about to be released by companies like Samsung, Motorola, and Huawei, but even those that have already been disclosed, like the Samsung Galaxy Flip Z4 5G, have proven to be rather spectacular.
Moreover, tech giants like Apple have already revealed their all-new Apple iPhone 13. Mobile phones seem to be having a fruitful future. With the increasing competition in the market, telecoms are embarking on the latest technological trends to provide the latest technology to users right in the palm of their hand.
The history of mobile phones is full of thrill and crispiness. We hope you enjoy every bite of information. You can also read our blog on the tips and tricks of mobile phones and get the best out of your latest mobile phone device.
The first ever handheld mobile phone was created in 1983. This magnificent technological piece was named Dyna TAC 8000X and was developed by Motorola company.
The mobile phone allowed people to make long-distance calls to other mobile phones rather than just landline phones.
Martin cooper of Motorola made the demonstration of the first-hand mobile phone in 1973. A decade later, the phone was made available for public use in 1983.
Although the first cellphone prototype was created in 1973, or ten years before 1G was offered in North America, Motorola didn't release the DynaTAC to the public until 1983.
The Motorola DynaTAC weighed 2 pounds, had a conversation time of 30 minutes, and required around 10 hours to charge.