Mobile phones have come a long way since Martin Cooper stepped onto a New York street in 1973 to make the first portable phone call and these days, they couldn’t be any further from the brick-sized, antenna-sporting devices business folk were seen lugging around in the early days.
It’s taken years of research and graft to get mobile phones to how they are today and while manufacturers may have made some mistakes along the way (Nokia N-Gage anyone?), there have certainly been triumphs that changed the direction of handsets for good. We’re taking a trip down memory lane and picking out five landmark technologies, which we reckon irrevocably changed the face of mobile.
So when you’re near me, darling can’t you hear me S.M.S
Texting; probably the most well-known function associated with mobile phones aside from making phone calls. And since the first text was sent using the GSM system in 1993 on a Nokia phone by a chap called Riku Pihkonen, we have yet to stop bashing them out. Even with social networking and email now a key part of the mobile landscape, many still use texting as a primary way of getting in touch. After all, it’s cheaper than a phone call, saves having to use up any data and with many networks offering unlimited text message contracts, texting still very much proves that the original is still the best.
Camera meet phone. Phone meet camera
These days, coming across a modern phone without a camera is like finding a needle in a haystack! Who’dve thought back in 2002 when the first camera phone, the Sanyo SCP-5300, stepped onto the scene that a snapper would become a staple feature on mobiles? Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, cameras and mobile phones proved to be a hot combination with the SCP-5300 being a huge success. Nokia soon caught on to the trend and released the Nokia 7650 with other manufacturers soon following suit, and the rest as they say, is history. Phone cameras have evolved a lot in the near decade they’ve been around too and can now do all sorts of fancy stuff from taking high-resolution snaps to recording HD videos at 1080p. With so many mobile phone owners now more than used to taking pictures on the go, we doubt the novelty will wear off any time soon, or ever for that matter.
Most of us probably weren’t that familiar with touchscreen technology on mobile phones until the iPhone showed up in 2007. While this was perhaps the phone that thrust the touchscreen into the mainstream, the technology first appeared in the 1990s when Apple released the Newton PDA, a device that featured handwriting recognition software. Great for business users but it wasn’t something that captured the public’s imagination. However, that all changed once the iPhone hit the market and now, touchscreen devices outnumber QWERTY handsets and those with actual physical keyboards. They’ll always be a market for keyboard-sporting phones but the tables seem to have turned with them now being more popular amongst corporate folk.
Shake your money maker
Okay, so NFC hasn’t really taken off in this part of the world yet but the tech industry reckons the wireless payment technology will soon revolutionise the way we pay for stuff, hence why it’s in our top five. Google was the first company to bring out an NFC-enabled smartphone, the Google Nexus S which was launched last year, but other manufacturers including RIM and LG are now hopping on the NFC bandwagon too. The wireless payment technology is expected to take off in the next year with 40,000 terminals due to be rolled out to retailers this summer by Barclaycard. However, like touchscreen technology, it could be catapulted into the spotlight should Apple put an NFC chip in the iPhone 5. This is definitely one to watch folks.
Ringtones are not necessarily be classed as revolutionary mobile technology but we had to include what has been dubbed one of the most recognisable pieces of music in the world – the Nokia theme tune. Yup, we’ve got it stuck in our heads now too, but that’s exactly why it’s a landmark piece of mobile history as pretty much every single person, regardless of how tech savvy they are, will more than likely have heard this tune before. It was first introduced as a ringtone by the company in 1994 as part of the Nokia 2100 range, which went on to sell 20 million units worldwide. Believe it or not, the song itself is not an entirely original composition and is lifted from a 19thCentury classic guitar piece called Gran Vals by Spanish composer Francisco Tárraga.