Samsung has turned back the clock with today’s announcement of a new Android phone. The world’s leading smartphone company has decided to go back to the flip phone factor that was all the rage back when mobile phone call charges were still astronomical. The Samsung Hennessy may run Android, but it still reminds us of a day when colour displays were rare. Here are some of the most iconic flip phones from the past.
Released way back in January 1996, the Motorola StarTAC was then the world's lightest, smallest and first “wearable” phone. By that we mean you could clip it on to your belt with ease. It was also the world’s first real flip mobile phone. So in essence, it triggered two trends that succeed to varying degrees. It followed the MicroTAC, a semi-clamshell phone that launched in 1989. This being 1996, one of the key features of the StarTAC was SMS text messaging. We imagine reading texts on the two-line LED display would have been a chore.
Motorola's StarTac was a light clamshell phone with SMS!
Nokia 9000 Communicator
1996 can be called the year of the flip phone. Not to be outdone by Motorola, Nokia too unveiled its first communicator device that year. The Nokia 9000 Communicator was the first in the line of lunchbox-style phones by the Finnish company. It also weighed as much as a full lunch box and weighed in at 397 g. The Communicator had an Intel 24MHz i386 CPU and 8MB of memory, with 2MB available for user data. For its time, the 9000 was cutting edge and allowed you to access e-mail, fax and Internet. It was also one of the first phones to have a speaker phone.
The beefy Nokia 9000 Communicator sized up against the more modern E7 (Image credit: Krystof K/ Wikimedia)
The T28 was the lightest and slimmest phone around at the time, and in sharp contrast to the preceding phone, it weighed only 81 grams. The stocky external antenna was a prominent feature of many Ericsson phones of the time. The T28 has one thing in common with many of the most recent smartphones. Its lithium polymer battery was unprecedented and this is still the norm when it comes to batteries in phones. The T28 also boasted an active flip keypad cover, voice dialling and an optional Bluetooth dongle. The company released quite a few variants of the T28.
Ericsson's T28 was positively diminutive
Motorola Razr V3
If the StarTac was Motorola’s first real flip phone, the Razr V3 was the company’s perfected model. At the time, it was easily the best-designed phone and had some premium build materials. For example, did you know that the iconic backlit keypad of the Razr V3 was carved out of a single metal wafer? Or that it had an all-aluminium body and was the thinnest flip phone of its time? The Razr V3 also broke away from the proprietary ports of Sony Ericsson, Nokia and the likes with a standard mini USB port for the charger, data cable and headphones. The Razr V3 ended up selling like hot cakes all over the world and was the basis for future Motorola phones, including some of its newer Android phones.
Motorola's more modern take on the flip phone
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