A Brief History of the Evolution of Mobile Phone Designs

According to the Smithsonian, an engineer technically made the first mobile phone call in 1946. However, few people would call that 80-pound phone genuinely portable by today's standards. They could only call the device mobile because the engineers installed it in an automobile. But much of the equipment had to go in the vehicle's trunk.
The phone's subscription service only functioned in large cities or along major highways. And the cost would reduce the market to wealthy people or thriving companies. Still, the service attracted 5,000 customers by 1948. If nothing else, these early attempts demonstrated a demand for mobility.

The Evolution of Mobile Phone Designs

Looking back at historical milestones in mobile phones can serve as a reminder of how far technology and design have advanced. Not so long ago, portable phones did not function that well and would hardly fit today's definition of mobility. Most consumers also could not afford them, and they were primarily reserved for corporations, elite business people, or celebrities. Today, almost anyone can make phone calls from their smartwatches.

Mobile Phones of the 20th Century

In the early 1980s, electronics companies debuted the first truly mobile phones and the first generation of mobile phone networks. For example:
  • In 1982, Nokia introduced the Senator, a phone that weighed 22 pounds. It looked more like a portable radio than today's smartphones.
  • In 1983, Motorola joined with the first handheld, the DynaTAC 8000X, sometimes referred to as "the brick." Lighter than the Senator, it still weighed over two pounds and took 24 hours to charge a battery that lasted only half an hour.
The 1990s saw more advances and adaptation. For instance, Nokia returned in 1992 with a half-pound model that would look much more recognizable as a mobile phone to a person today. The Nokia 1011 included an LCD screen and a pull-out antenna.
This decade also introduced 2G connectivity, which spread worldwide. Around this time, an engineer for Sema Group composed and sent the first text message, wishing his recipient "Merry Christmas."
By the middle of this decade, both Nokia and Motorola offered the first foldable phones and embedded keyboards. This made phones useful for much more than making calls. In 1997, Siemens debuted the first four-color screen. Also, Blackberry, then called RIM, launched the first of its distinctive phones in 1999.

The Early 2000s

During the first decade of the 21st Century, smartphones with QWERTY keyboards remained popular. Gradually, manufacturers made phones lighter and improved battery life. Nokia also introduced the first phone games, and 2003 saw the first contract for 3G networks.
In 2003, Motorola debuted the famous RAZR V3 flip phone, which still holds the title of its most popular phone release. This model offered a slim design, 3G connectivity, downloadable ringtones, Bluetooth, and a camera for stills and video. While the RAZR still lacked many features of today's smartphones, it popularized the ideas behind them.
The Nokia N95 might mark the historical beginnings of today's smartphones in 2007. This device allowed users to take photos with a 5MP camera, add up to 8GB of storage, and watch videos or listen to music. It even included a front-facing camera for video calls, and at that time, Nokia commanded almost 50 percent of the smartphone market.
Sadly for Nokia, the company did not have much time to rest on its laurels. Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007. This early iPhone wasn't the first phone to offer a touchscreen and no physical keyboard, but it was the model that popularized that idea.
In 2008, Android debuted the first marketplace that would later evolve into the Google Play Store. That year marks the beginning of the great Apple vs. Android contest for dominance still seen today. By 2009, 4G had passed its first tests but wasn't commercially available.

The 2010s

The iPhone debuted in 2008, and Samsung offered the first Galaxy S in 2010. This phone's generous storage, two cameras, and relatively powerful processor helped establish the Samsung Galaxy as the leading Android competitor against Apple's iPhone line.
The first commercial 4G contracts arrived in 2012. Aside from 4G, many of this decade's smartphone innovations appeared due to the rivalry between Apple and Samsung. Nokia still made a splash in 2013 with Lumia's two powerful cameras and more advanced photo processing software.
The Lumia and 2015's introduction of the Google Nexus marked when people started to replace standalone cameras with phones. By 2019, the first people began signing 5G contracts, though devices and networks did not widely support this new protocol yet.

The Future of Smartphone Design

Mobile phone technology has evolved a lot since the first models needed a car to carry them. Some innovations may look like updates to older ideas. For instance, companies have recently returned to foldable phones, though they fold out to look more like tablet computers than the original flip phones. Today's foldable phones still cost quite a bit, though the idea of buying one device to serve multiple functions appeals to many people as much as the idea of having a mobile phone, even a big one, did to people in the 1940s.
Despite this decade's more powerful processors, higher-resolution screens and cameras, and advanced connectivity, the Verge commented that recent releases haven't felt as exciting or revolutionary as they may have in the past. The publication predicted that further innovation might come in smartphone features emerging in wearables, like glasses, VR headsets, and watches.
With the advent of flexible components, some new smartphones might be flexible and not just foldable, so users can stuff them in a pocket and then roll out a large screen when needed. The Verge also predicted that the next significant innovations might not come from today's major players but from an entirely new direction, which has happened many times in the past.
Perhaps people won't always carry devices around with them, but they will have access to a network almost everywhere they go by accessing advanced smart speakers in their homes, vehicles, stores, and other buildings.

How Extended Warranties Help Future-Proof Smartphones

These days, most people rely on their smartphones. Today’s manufacturers focus on producing faster, more feature-rich, and costlier models. As a result, the landscape changed to include a booming resale market. The resale market can help some smartphone buyers upgrade more often, and it makes it possible for others to purchase affordable updated technology.
An Upsie subscription warranty for smartphones can help future-proof any phone by ensuring it stays in tip-top shape to enjoy a longer lifespan and retain its value if an opportunity to trade up comes along. Best of all, Upsie’s affordable extended warranties cost just $9.99 per month. With Upsie, customers’ devices are safe from accidental damage, manufacturing defects, early wear, and more.
Get the best protection at the best price with Upsie.

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