10 special old phones that deserve to get an 'SE' makeover ASAP

The unimaginable has happened: Apple has invented a time machine. How do we know? The company has just recently unveiled the iPhone SE, a phone that looks almost exactly like the iPhone 5s from 2013.

SE stands for 'special edition' and it's indeed special! They don't make 'em like that anymore: with a tiny, 4" display, the iPhone SE - despite being leaked months before launch - still feels like a big surprise.

Apple claims that a market for small devices still exists. It exists for Apple, that's certain: the company sold a whopping 30 million such phones in 2015, but does a global market for such devices exist? Admittedly, many who buy a smaller iPhone these days are driven by its price and the fact that it carries an Apple logo, rather than just by screen size criteria.

But if Apple could make an old phone new again, we figured there are some other phones that are definitely worth such a makeover. Here are our top 10 phones that we think should get their own 'SE' makeover ASAP.

#10 (Duh!): Nokia 3310

Originally released in 2000

Duh! The most talked about phone of all time, the Nokia 3310 is the one device that deserves a place in the hall of fame. Naturally, it deserves a makeover. We don't know how can this phone be modernized and it seems like an impossible task, but we're sure that whatever talent is left in Finland at Nokia has the chops to make a 'special edition' of the unbreakable and legendary Nokia 3310.

Nokia, if you're really planning a return to the phone market late this year, think about this and make it good. We want our indestructible phones back.

#9: HTC One mini

Originally released in 2013 | Specs | Review

The HTC One mini is a device that - if given a modern makeover - would stand a fight against the iPhone SE easily. The aluminum 4 incher is super compact, looks extremely stylish with a modern metal build, and could certainly cost less than the $400 iPhone SE. We would not mind a fingerprint scanner and a truly no-compromise camera, along with the promise for quick updates as well.

#8: Nokia Lumia 720 / 730

Originally released in 2013 | Specs | Review

The Nokia Lumia 720 and then the Lumia 730 are our favorite designs of the Lumia series. That pillow shaped form had seen many iterations, but in the super affordable Lumia 7xx it was thin and super comfortable to hold and slip in the pocket. With a practical and well-made plastic body, we won't really miss metal terribly. What will make these phones special, though, will be modern, no-compromise silicon: a great processor and camera.

#7: Sony Xperia S / U

Originally released in 2012 | Specs | Review

While we would not bring the Xperia S in its exact form, we would definitely take some cues from its design. Make it thinner, make it elegant and make it glow. We feel Sony was really up to something with that light strip that would gave those devices so much character, but the idea has to be polished. We imagine a Tron-inspired, futuristic phone with the Sony logo and something different than what everyone offers today. Can you pull it off, Sony?

#6: BlackBerry Passport

Originally released in 2015 | Specs | Review

BlackBerry is quite obviously in a lot of trouble: the phone maker that was synonymous with the whole industry some 10 years ago, is now practically irrelevant. Its phones are niche offerings that only the most loyal fans buy. Yet, there was one recent device that really stood out: the BlackBerry Passport. A square device with a strange form factor, the Passport was a businessman's best friend: its screen was particularly great for reading email and dealing with spreadsheets, but its design was also well thought out, and it had an absolutely stunning keyboard that doubled as a touchscreen. This unique combination of features makes the BlackBerry Passport a prime candidate for a 'Special Edition' makeover: just make it run on Android this time, BlackBerry, alright?

#5: HTC One M7

Originally released in 2013 | Specs | Review

The HTC One M7 was such a strange bird: we feel like it has one of the best designs on Android paired with the ample BoomSound speakers, but it featured a largely disappointing UltraPixel camera. If HTC improved that one key aspect and equipped this phone with modern silicon, we can definitely see it attracting a lot of attention.

#4: Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Originally released in 2014 | Specs | Review

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha was a transitional phone for Samsung before it jumped on the stainy glass front. Sure, the Galaxy S6 and now the S7 are absolutely stunning, but wait until you start using them in hand and they quickly accumulate fingerprints and become that greasy mess.

With its elegant and stylish body, the 4.7" Galaxy Alpha was nothing like that: it was compact and good-looking, but it didn't stain, and featured an easily removable back cover that you could change and have it look like new. Bring that small phone with cool design back, but update it with modern silicon and you'd have quite the special phone, Samsung!

#3: HTC One S

Originally released in 2012 | Specs | Review

Speaking of ancient phones, how about going back even further back in time, to the HTC One S. This stunning 4.3 incher absolutely blew our minds with its carefully crafted aluminum body and sturdy construction in times when this was unheard of. Coming from the golden days of HTC, this little One S could easily turn into an 'SE' of sorts to please phone aficionados with a doze of modernized nostalgia: we would love to see it with a better processor, camera and system chip, of course, and the promise for future Android updates would definitely seal the deal for us.

#2: Google Nexus 4

Originally released in 2012 | Specs | Review

When it comes to Nexus phones, there is one design that really went above and beyond for the time and that would still look great to this day. We're speaking about the ancient Nexus 4, a phone from 2012, that looks every bit as good as a phone in 2016, and has a cool matrix-like glittery effect on the back.

Equip it with a modern system chip, a great camera and a decent battery, and you have a device that would be just as special as that special edition iPhone, but will also cater to all Android purists. What's not to like.

#1: Nokia Lumia 1020

Originally released in 2013 | Specs | Review

Nokia has a cult following in the phone world, almost as much as Apple, but even a cult following cannot fully explain why up to this very day, we find commenters lamenting the fact that the Lumia 1020, the monstrous 41-megapixel camera phone, does not have its due successor. And trust us, we don't get much comments about three year-old devices... except for the Lumia 1020.

So come on, Microsoft or Nokia! Get your act together, and pull some PureView super-megapixel magic on us and all the fans that have been waiting all those years. And please, consider using Android this time around. We hear people dig it better than Windows Phone.



1. Coconut00

Posts: 485; Member since: Jan 13, 2015

Awesome list! Galaxy Alpha 2 FTW

11. Frank_Underwood

Posts: 31; Member since: Mar 22, 2016

Nexus 4 SE Edition(?!) would be abso-freakin-lutely awesome!

17. Johnnokia

Posts: 1158; Member since: May 27, 2012

N95 6600 N97 1100 5800 Xpress Music N8 N9 808 PureView These phones represent the unforgettable part in the Legendary Club

22. GreenMan

Posts: 2697; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

@Johnnokia Day dreaming at its finest... Nokia is dead... Not 'completely' dead, but pretty much dead...! Same will happen to poor Blackberry... These are 90s and 2000s legends Who are practically ZOMBIES are the moment... And they quite deserved it. They see Apple and Android coming from a mile away, yet they did nothing... Probably were too arrogant to feel the threat! We are NOKIA\BLACKBERRY, we dominate the bloody world. Earn BILLIONS in revenues... What harm these little critters could possibly dish out, Ha! It may sound like a rant, but its pretty close to the reality... The didn't see the storm coming!

25. Rafishant

Posts: 398; Member since: Oct 13, 2015

Nokia is dead??? Nokia just recently acquired Alcatel-Lucent for $18 billion. Nokia's February market cap is $52 billion. Nokia's current cash reserve is $14.5 billion. Nokia is still ranked as one of the world's largest companies by total assets. Nokia's is floating on a giant sea of patents that generates billions of dollars every year, Nokia pretty much could buy some world's countries if they want. If you want to be dumb, at least try to do that more decently!

36. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Nokia is death in cellphone market. Happy now? Sure they still a monster big company for others stuff.

65. GreenMan

Posts: 2697; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

Hence I used the word ZOMBIE... It still lurks without a soul...! They'll never be able to make their place in cell phones Market unless they embrace Android... And even then, they'd be just another ordinary fish in the pond, ala Sony and LG...!

28. Johnnokia

Posts: 1158; Member since: May 27, 2012

I was talking about legend old phones. Wtf are you talking about?. This is the most stupid comment ever. Do you know that Nokia is now the second largest communications and information technology company in the world after Ericsson?

24. justrt

Posts: 446; Member since: Jul 10, 2014

Nokia N Gage

44. DoggyDangerous

Posts: 1028; Member since: Aug 28, 2015

I purchased N8 in $85, 3 weeks ago. Good phone. N8se could be a good device to imagine. I don't think nokia will ever be the old great nokia again.

60. geordie8t1

Posts: 303; Member since: Nov 16, 2015

Nokia n91 n93 and n95/6 were awesome range of nseries models, N91 was very unique music orientated device and was very slick at the time, n93/i were camera centric handheld camcorder like models and n95/96 were great al round devices

69. phonearenarocks

Posts: 606; Member since: Mar 26, 2015

I'll add Nokia N-Gage QD as well...the most unsung hero of those times.

72. geordie8t1

Posts: 303; Member since: Nov 16, 2015

never used it but i guess being gaming centric it would be good, design was a little limited and bulky tho in my opinion by todays standards

2. tyrionTheWise unregistered

Have to agree the list is pretty solid. My favorite among the bunch is the htc one S. I remember that it was better than the one X in most of the tasks.

4. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

Yeah, solid list. But Samaung's most famous phone, the Galaxy S3 needs a SE make-over too.

12. tyrionTheWise unregistered

S3 was a laggy pile of mess. I still fail to understand how it was a hit. S2 and S4 were way better phones.

27. sachouba

Posts: 266; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

It wasn't that laggy at launch ! It became worse after several updates, and heavier apps. The S3 was truly innovative at its time, with all its gestures and features: - multi-windows mode, - power saving mode, - wireless charging, - Smart Stay, - S Voice, - Picture in Picture (Pop-Up Play), - S Beam, - Direct Dial, - Shortcuts on lockscreen, - AllShare... along with its great camera and its awesome processor. It was just flawless at that time (when Samsung was still innovating) !

39. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Had the S3 for like 6 months. One of the phone i hated the most. Its was as other said a laggy piece of crap! Switched for the HTC one S who was better ALL around. All those features (or mostly ) did not work right.

50. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

We had the same experience with the S3. I would also add that GPS sucked, it was constantly searching for a signal. It was fine for a couple months, but after that performance and battery life took a nosedive. By the one year mark battery life was half of what it was at launch. The first and last Samsung smartphone I ever had.

79. KONICHIWA-ANNYONG unregistered

@tyrionTheIdiot You've never owned an S3, right? My dad still has one (and you still see them around)... Not laggy, as fluid as my Nexus. Granted, it's on KitKat. But it's about 4 years old, running strong with a new battery. Also there's CyanogenMod support (Android Marshmallow).

13. Frank_Underwood

Posts: 31; Member since: Mar 22, 2016

True that. S3 was just awesome! The phone which I have used for the longest time period!

63. HalfnHalf

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 24, 2016

So are they gonna carry over the crap USB plug to replicate the experience? Everyone I know has to pug it in a certain way or hold it in place. I finally figured why my wife's micro USB always were bent.

5. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016


38. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Yeah i had thats phone its was one of the best at the time. Took superb picture for the time its came out. Was fast and fluid and the design was amazing. The way they painted the aluminium if you scratched it you could just rub hit hard and the scratch would disappear ( if not too deep ) If they bring thats with a SD820 and same camera as the HTC 10 its would rock the small smartphone market.

48. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

Agreed. Loved the One S when it came out, I was amazed by the design, and it was just a smaller One X, same SoC and everything, just a smaller lower res display.

73. Colombianmax

Posts: 52; Member since: Dec 29, 2014

I am still rocking my HTC One S and have been since it came out. I refuse to move to a bigger phone and all similar sized new phones are piles of junk with poor cameras. I agree with this list and think the One S would make an amazing new phone. As far as all the other One S vs S3 comments... my gf has the S3 and I have the One S and I think my phone despite being older is by far better, especially the user interface being cleaner, faster, and easier to use. Only thing the One S is missing is the replaceable battery and removable battery.

3. Hammerfest

Posts: 384; Member since: May 12, 2012

This list is broken... Its missing probably the best one of all, the HTC HD2... I STILL have it sitting by and I still flash some of the stuff that is STILL developed for it (ok, Nov 2015 is the last Android build I see, still) to play around, if only it where faster (data speed wise), it could be my Daily driver...

33. bucky

Posts: 3786; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

+1 for the HD2. However, that seems to be working backwards as the HD2 was meant to be the biggest phone for its time.

6. drahcir02

Posts: 102; Member since: Mar 03, 2016

+1 Xperia U with high end specs

7. Trakker

Posts: 283; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

These folding screen phones Samsung are planning would be perfect for the 3310. And the Nokia 7110 should be remade because I just love the mechanical action making it like cocking a gun.

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