From some of the very first mobile phones to hit the mass market, through to the new generation of smartphones, Nokia have been at the forefront of mobile phone development for decades. They may have been in the shadows of Samsung and Apple when it comes to smartphones in recent years, but one of the hallmarks of Nokia’s product range over the years has been their ability to change when needed.
After a couple of false starts and misguided forays into modern smartphones then, it seems like this is a brand that is finally catching back up with the market leaders. But is it already too late? Here I take a look back at some of the manufacturer’s most celebrated handsets – and some of those that were not so well received.
The Nokia 3210 remains one of history’s most successful mobile phone models, and if ‘history’ sounds like a grandiose term, remember that this handset launched in 1999 – making it part of the 20th century’s timeline, not the 21st century.
An internal aerial helped to streamline the shape, while the inclusion of games including, of course, Snake, made the model appeal to a younger generation of users, transforming mobile phones from being the preserve of business people on the move, to being an item everybody wanted to own.
The first years of the 21st century saw some fairly odd mobile phones hit the market, and Nokia’s 5510 is a fine example of where ambition had outpaced the development of the technology needed. A built-in MP3 player and FM radio, plus many of the same features as the 3310 and 3330, should have made this model appeal to music-lovers, while a near-full QWERTY keyboard theoretically made it easier to type and text.
Personally, when I saw this on the ads, it looked like the future to me, and if it had been black, it would have looked like something a secret agent would use; however, I don’t recall ever knowing anybody who owned one.
The Nokia C3 was not around until the end of the first decade of the 21st century, and by that stage it was clear that connectivity concerns were starting to shape handset development. In the C3, Nokia again provided a full keyboard, but it was much more compact than the 5510’s had been; this model came with both Bluetooth and WLAN connectivity; and, generally speaking, the C3 was seen as an entry-level option for social networking on the move.
Nokia still had a long way to go before they would create anything truly resembling a smartphone (although the C3’s design was distinctly BlackBerry-like), and it wasn’t until I came to sell my Nokia C3 that I realised I actually had grown quite attached to it.
The Nokia Lumia Range
Finally, a brief note about the Nokia Lumia range, taking Nokia forwards into the second decade of the 21st century. These smartphones are the brand’s first to be truly fully featured, and have been well received so far.
It looks like Nokia have another hit on their hands, with features like wireless charging and high-quality on-board cameras, but only time will tell whether we will once again see the one-time market leaders back on top.