The commercial smartphone turns 20: here are 20 trailblazing smarties

The commercial smartphone turns 20: here are 20 trailblazing smarties
IBM's Simon, long referenced as the first smartphone, went on sale to the general public on August 16, 1994, meaning that the commercialized smartphone just turned twenty, inducing some nostalgia and the need for retrospection. Man is a social animal, and ever since the invention of this information highway called the Internet, we wanted to carry it with us everywhere we go, complete with all the tasks we are used to do on our computers. There have been numerous efforts to do just that, from the first IBM Simon or Nokia's Communicator series, through the various Windows Mobile handsets, to the iPhone and Android launch, and everything that followed.

Nowadays we can firmly say that smartphones have fulfilled that goal - we can be always connected, and barely need a computer for our everyday communication needs anymore, thanks to the gear in our pockets. Moreover, they are our go-to cameras, organizers, media consumption, and lately even biometrics devices, executing yet another dream - to have a compact Swiss Army knife device that does it all, folded in a mobile form.

It wasn't always like that, though, and the quest to get where we are now might seem long and hard when we look at the labor pains of the smartphone, yet 20 years is a blip on the radar in historical terms. It is amazing how far the demand for an always-on and always-connected life has taken us in just two decades, and to celebrate the anniversary, we are rounding 20 of the handsets that made it all happen. The list is by no means exhaustive, but in their own unique way, each of those was a building block on which others stepped to get to where we are now. Did you own any of these back in the days?

FEATURED VIDEO

40 Comments

1. neela_akaash

Posts: 1239; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

Wow. Xiaomi is standing with those legends in smartphone industry...

4. kamran32

Posts: 30; Member since: Aug 13, 2014

Yeah afterall it is Iphone of China...

8. aayupanday

Posts: 582; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

I'm a proud owner of that Bonus Smartphone. SD800 at $229.

33. na7noo7

Posts: 278; Member since: Mar 29, 2014

And Tegra 4 as well.

2. amiaq

Posts: 509; Member since: Jun 30, 2012

Glad that I never been sucked into Apple's universe, otherwise I will look as bad as I was in the 80s.

3. kamran32

Posts: 30; Member since: Aug 13, 2014

My Hot Favorite P-800 king of his time and the Jotter app i still remember...

9. fireblade

Posts: 717; Member since: Dec 27, 2013

Yeah that's the best smartphone at that time

27. cezarepc

Posts: 718; Member since: Nov 23, 2012

I had the P900 and I felt like the coolest guys ever.

36. kamran32

Posts: 30; Member since: Aug 13, 2014

It was a suspicious mobile for every one as i have seen people at that time got impressed because it was costly.. Specially they Keyboard..

5. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

There's a huge difference if you use these old legendary phones in the past and present. In the past, people will look at you with an envious face. In the present, people will look at you with a weird face. I think it's kinda sad because brands like Nokia, Motorola, BlackBerry etc. were the kings in the good old days, and now they're like they went into the different dimension. But oh well, they're still here so it's a good thing. Btw, I'm also glad to see that Xiaomi is included in this legendary list as well, they deserved to be in this list, they proved that high end can be on a low price, and Chinese phones are able to compete with the big bros as well. So, congrats to Xiaomi.

6. Tritinum

Posts: 471; Member since: May 06, 2014

No love for Galaxy Nexus? without that phone there would have been no phone with software keys plus it was the first phone with ICS stock android and project butter!

10. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

and first phone with 720p display.

18. xperian

Posts: 418; Member since: Apr 10, 2014

Nope, HTC made a phone with 720p display for US carriers before that

13. iampayne

Posts: 322; Member since: Aug 12, 2013

It wasn't the first of its kind, it was a evolution of the first Nexus. Just like the only iPhone/Galaxy mentioned are the OG versions.

7. QuadFace

Posts: 179; Member since: Aug 19, 2013

I was crazy for the Touch Diamond but was not rich enough to get one, but now smartphones are getting cheaper and smarter.

11. kkmkk

Posts: 699; Member since: May 06, 2013

i still have the original galaxy note and i must say it is really a legendary smartphone and i really do love it even thou i have the newest smartphones ( sony z2 - lg g2- note 3 - iphone 5s ) it really is a special smartphone

12. PAPINYC

Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

This is such an iNcomplete list; the Audiovox Thera 2032 aka the Blue Angel (Siemens SX66) in some markets preceded the Samsung i700 by six months. The Blue Angel was one of the first, if not the first, smartphones with a built-in wi-fi (wireless-B) radio, the U.S. release (Thera 2032) did not offer wi-fi. Also missing: Kyocera 6035, HTC 6800, Kyocera Echo (a bust but, interesting concept), EVO 3D, and many other much more intriguing smartphones than some of the aforementioned in this "article".

16. hemedans

Posts: 755; Member since: Jun 01, 2013

and i remember to read in gsmhistory that first color smatphone come from siemens. htc and blackberry are not legend compare to nokia, erricson, siemens and motorola

20. PAPINYC

Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

Amd, you probably are correct Sir. I remember being able to look at photos in full color on my Thera 2032 (the U.S. version of the Siemens SX66). Siemens couldn't market under its' name in the U.S. because the implication of its' name; religious groups at the time would've revolted with mass demonstrations in the streets. But, alas, time has since passed and 'we've come a long way baby'!

14. hemedans

Posts: 755; Member since: Jun 01, 2013

dell deserve to be called father of phablets, dell streak 5 was first phablet before note series.

17. kkmkk

Posts: 699; Member since: May 06, 2013

it have a 5inch display with super bad resolution a super bad battery life and have no styles and to be the father of phablets it should have a great success which is for sure did not

25. hemedans

Posts: 755; Member since: Jun 01, 2013

we are talking about who did it first and not success. if we talk about success nothing beat galaxy s3 in android, nokia 5230 overall smartphone

15. nighthawk_al

Posts: 55; Member since: May 23, 2014

Nokia 6600, God I loved that phone so much... :(

28. domfonusr

Posts: 1083; Member since: Jan 17, 2014

I had a 6620 early in my smartphone owning days. That's the phone that got me started with Symbian smartphones, which I really enjoyed. I went on to buy a Nokia 9300 communicator, an E62, an N75, and finally an E75. Had a good run with Nokia Symbian devices...

34. nighthawk_al

Posts: 55; Member since: May 23, 2014

It was my first one with Symbian too... then came N70, 6500c, and a little latter N97. Had an awesome experience with each of them, and Symbian seemd to work pretty well for that time. Actually I still miss some of it's features such as native VoIP support in my Lumia 920 with W.P 8.1 GDR1 :(

37. kamran32

Posts: 30; Member since: Aug 13, 2014

Nokia 6620 still i think the fastest typing phone as i remember i used it with closed eyes for typing text messages... It was best for chat and all keys can be operated with one thumb...

39. nighthawk_al

Posts: 55; Member since: May 23, 2014

You brought to my mind something that I had forgotten for a long time now... typing without looking the keyboard. That was a hell of a feature, which we had to compromise not to have it anymore

40. kamran32

Posts: 30; Member since: Aug 13, 2014

But i really miss that typing without even watching mobile...

19. ProblemSolver15

Posts: 372; Member since: Jun 14, 2010

Man, this article takes me back to when I had the HTC Mogul, XV6800 on Verizon. That thing ran Windows Mobile and was a complete brick. I went through a good 5 of those things because the software was so laggy and the damn keyboard would stop working. The screen would frizz up and scramble like it was trying to broadcast a "Save Me" code. It had everything on it though, and could do a lot. So, it was smart, it was just slow-smart.

21. district11

Posts: 126; Member since: Apr 17, 2011

Samsung galaxy S my first smartphone :)

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.