Nokia Communicator: T-Rex of early smartphones

“Communicators” were the T-Rex (Tyrannosaurus Rex) of early smartphones. Like the real T-Rex, the Nokia Communicator was the most powerful device of its time. It ruled among early smartphones. Communicator was a brand name for a set of smartphones that had a clamshell form factor and opened up to be used for work just like laptops. When closed, it was used like every other phone because it had an outer display and keypad.

Nokia-9210i-9500-e90
Nokia Communicator models in regular phone mode

Here Are The Nokia Communicator Models

Nokia 9000

first mobile phone with internet capabilities - nokia 9000 communicator
Nokia 9000 opened up: The first mobile phone with internet capabilities
This was the very first Communicator was the Nokia 9000. It ran an operating system called GEOS, had a “whopping” 8 MB of internal memory (LOL). It was also the first commercial mobile phone with internet and email capabilities.

Nokia 9110

Nokia 9110i
The Nokia 9110 was launched in 1998. It ran the same locked down OS – GEOS – that its predecessor ran and it had a monochrome display like it too. It was no big upgrade, as improvements were incremental.

Nokia 9210 / 9210i

Nokia 9210i
colour screen and Symbian OS arrived on the Communicator
Nokia 9210 was the first Communicator to run Symbian OS (Series 80) and to have a colour screen. It was launched in 2001. This was the first smartphone Communicator. The 9210i was released in 2002. It was the first Communicator I ever owned.

Nokia 9500

Nokia 9500 Communicator
2004 saw the introduction of the Nokia 9500. Like its predecessor, it also ran Symbian OS Series 80, the version of Symbian that was designed specifically with the Communicator in mind. The 9500 also had Bluetooth, camera and WiFi. I owned a 9500.

Also read:  Nokia Lumia 520 Specifications

Nokia E90

Nokia E90 Communicator
Launched in 2007, the Nokia E90 was the last true Communicator. It ran Symbian OS Series 60. Nokia had discontinued Series 80 for the more popular Series 60. Series 60 wasn’t well optimised for the display of the Communicator but Series 60 had more apps and so it meant that the E90 users got access to hundreds of apps that Series 80 didn’t have. Many of us Communicator fans griped and complained about how Series 60 made the E90 feel watered-down from traditional Communicators. But it was a great device still.

I remember that the E90’s camera was one of the best in its time. I so loved the E90 that I ended up purchasing it twice. Ah, the love of my life…..

Honourable Mentions

Nokia 9300
Nokia 9300 – Why did Nokia not market it as a Communicator?
The Nokia 9300 and 9300i were smaller versions of the Nokia 9500 and ran Symbian OS too. But Nokia did not market them under the Communicator. Which was odd.

Nokia E75
Nokia E75 – Communicator? Nah!
Nokia attempted to market the E75 as a Communicator, but we fans refused vehemently. It ran Symbian OS but didn’t have the Communicator form factor. What were they thinking?

Nokia E7
Nokia E7 – Communicator? Kinda….
Lastly, the Nokia E7 was launched in 2011 had a form factor that was similar to the Communicator but instead of a clamshell that opened, it had a slide-out mechanism. It was a sleek beauty and I was privileged to be one of the first to own one. It ran Symbian^3, one of the very last iterations of Symbian OS.

Wrap Up

If there is any form factor of mobile phones that I miss till today, it is the Communicator form factor. Using one was like using a phone and a mini laptop rolled into one. The Communicator was powerful and very useful. Perhaps someone can revive the form factor. Just imagine Android or Windows 10 (not Windows 10 Mobile) in a Communicator form factor. Ooohhh-la-la.

  • nokia communicators

Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

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