Back in the early 2000s, the mobile phone world was ruled by European companies. Everywhere you turned, European cell phone brands were present and highly visible. And almost all of their mobile phones were made in Europe.
I remember a number of names with fondness. At the top of the list was Nokia, the Finnish company that brought us some of the world’s most popular phones and later smartphones. I was a fan of the Nokia Communicator series, and I owned a handful before they were eventually discontinued.
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The Glory Years Of European Smartphone Brands
From 1998 to 2012, a span of 14 years, Nokia was the largest mobile phone company in the world. It was a behemoth that commanded more clout than its next four competitors put together at the time. And it was during this period that Europe ruled the world of mobile phones. Almost all the leading phone brands were European.
From Sweden, Ericsson made some of the world’s most loved phones back then – including, the Ericsson R320, Ericsson T320s, Ericsson R380, and Ericsson T68. I owned both the R320s and R380 at different times.
There was Siemens, the German company that brought us some solid top performers, includinmg Siemens SL45 and later S55 – along with a few interesting, if not quirky, mobile phone designs. Siemens Mobile was later acquired by Taiwanese BenQ in 2005. BenQ Mobile went defunct shortly after the acquisition.
And then, there was the French firm, Alcatel, which was well known for its trendy-looking budget phones. I remember the Alcatel 311 with fondness.
And who would forget Sendo, the British mobile phone maker that rocked the world with the Sendo X, a budget Symbian phone that was hot cake among young people for a while. The company is no longer in operation today.
I could go on for a little bit more in describing how Europe held sway in the industry between the late 90s and 2012. But you are likely not here for the history lesson (interesting as it is). You are more likely here to find out which European mobile phone companies still exist; right? Let me get to it right away then.
The Last European Cell Phone Brands Left Standing
There are no more than a handful of mobile phone companies left in operation, and most of them are small players – so small that they don’t show up on any charts of regional or global smartphone marketshare.
But they exist and certain individuals prefer and use them. If you are searching for a European phone brand, here they are.
Nokia: Nokia Mobile is the largest European cell phone brand in existence today. While it is no longer as big as it used to be in its Hey days, the brand sells enough phones to show up on regional and global statistics. Nokia used to be the champion behind Symbian OS and later Windows Phone/Mobile. Today, its joint venture partner, HMD Global, makes Nokia phones running Android OS.
Fairphone. This is a Dutch phone brand with some global visibility, especially because of its commitment to producing eco-friendly smartphones. Fairphone devices run Android OS. It has a miniscule marketshare, but it is one of the most visible European cell phone brands on the global stage.
Gigaset is a German mobile phone brand. Almost every other European company listed here manufactures their devices in factories in China. Gigaset bucks the trend and manufactures their devices right there in the heart of Europe – in Germany. Their products are mostly home and office cordless phones, but they produce a small collection of budget Android-powered phones as well.
Philips Mobile has been around for a long time – since 1997 and producing phones since then. They have, however never not hit the big stage. Based in the Netherlands, Philips makes cordless phones and smartphones.
Spanish company, BQ, is relatively unknown and small, but they made up for it by offering tasty spices that most other mobile phone brands do not provide. For example, they made smartphones running Ubuntu Phone OS. One of them is the BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition, which I still own till today.
But BQ also makes Android smartphones. I am including BQ on this list only because they were active up till 2020. As at the end of 2020, they had stopped making any more phones.
Wileyfox is a British mobile phone company that has struggled a lot in recent times, dying temporarily, and resurrected. There have been no news of any fresh releases in a while, so the company is likely still on a lifeline.
French company, Wiko, made a brave entry into the smartphone world and built a presence in over 30 countires, making it one of the largest European cell phone brands left standing.
AllView is not quite popular, but this Romanian company has been active in the smartphone market for some years and has a sizable chunk of its home country’s marketshare.
Bullit Group of the United Kingdom is the company behind the range of rugged smartphones and feature phones under the Catphones brand name.
Nothing is a London-based tech company that makes mobile devices and are the latest European cell phone brand. The company was founded by former OnePlus co-founder, Carl Pei, and acquired former Essential. Nothing Phone 1 is expected in the market in 2022.
List Of Smartphones That Are Made In Europe
Gigaset, the German phone maker, produces their cordless phones, smartphones, and smart home systems in Germany, making it one of the few cell phone brands that still manufacture on the old continent.
In September 2023, HMD Global began to manufacture the Nokia XR21 in Europe, specifically in Hungary. That is it. I am aware of only two European cell phone brands that do any manufacturing in Europe today in 2023.
Mobile phone and smartphone history is a fascinating thing for me. Having been around since 2001 and watched the various transitions happen in the industry has been quite an experience.
Most smartphones sold in the world today are of Chinese origin and also made in China. If you have a preference for European taste, the companies listed on this page are the main European cell phone brands to explore. Note that most of them are made in China too. Only a few are manufactured in Europe.