My Phone History – Andy Fraser

A phone timeline. Wow. This has certainly been a memory test, but here we go…

My cherry popper. A Motorola, analogue on the old Cellnet service. It was massive, it took 4 AA batteries, the aerial was approximately the length of my arm. Batteries burned out really quick, you could only call (no texts or data!) and the call rate was 50p per minute. Or part minute. I was scared to use it! It didn’t even use a SIM card.  the picture is possibly the digital version, but it looked the same.

The Motorola lasted till I got to work for Orange. The staff scheme was cool, and I moved to the Motorola MR602, also known as the Monte Carlo on T-mobile. It was rounded, smooth, with a much smaller aerial and the awesome high definition holographic display! It was a joy to behold. Great keypad, fitted in your jeans easily, you could text! Oh, and did I text. One month, I sent on average 200 messages a day. No predictive text, all multitap and a killer phone bill. And RSI.

Then I moved onto Nokia. I cant remember the exact order, but they were… the 3210. it was great. Simple menus, and you can change the keypad and the case to whatever you want. I think that this was the first great personal phone, and let young people distance themselves from their parents and the grey and black bricks of yore. And this was 13 years ago. Goodness, 13 years ago! About the same time, I think just after this, I wanted more, I wanted to be grown up and I wanted a battery that lasted a week at least. Enter the Nokia 6150. This was a beast. The whole back of the phone was a battery. It did data (as I might just want to connect it to a computer…) came with a PC data suite, it was a cool blue colour, and was just awesome!

Being impressed with the 6150, I moved up to the 6210 when it came out. This phone, was at the time, brilliant. Why? It had no aerial. It was smoothed off, it was sleek, and was in a chromatic brown colour. It had a huge screen and built on the 6150. And it had internet. The mighty WAP system. It was the most basic internet on the go you can imagine, only really good for accessing text based WAP sites. Buit we loved it. It was plagued with a couple of problems though. If you didn’t use a case, dust could gather on the contacts between the battery and the phone (the back was the battery you see) and if you did use a case, the little brass fittings on the cheapo leather cases (the kind your father used to attach his phone to his belt) would interfere with the signal to the aerial. Took us a couple of months to figure that one out…

Back to Motorola. The V500. Nokia were, at the time, producing badly made crap. Creaking cases, vibration units not working properly, and the menu system hadn’t moved on. I wanted something smaller, and a flip phone, a menu system designed in the last few years and with an external display to show who was calling so you didn’t have to answer it. And boy was this thing tough… I was still at Orange at this point, and I remember the Motorola rep throwing the V500 at a brick wall, and it was perfectly fine! SOLD!!! It was going strong for years after I finished with it. Bulletproof.

Enter the sexy young thing. Ericsson had been around a while, and they had a talent for knocking out technically excellent phones, but were very dreary to look at. That is until the T68. A colour screen. MMS. WAP. Small and curvy and rather cool looking. Mine seemed to have a software problem though, as did a lot of the T68’s, and I managed to get a replacement to the T68i. Now, Sony had got into bed with Ericsson and this was the first SE handset. A T68 with a sexier colour scheme, and… TA DAAAAA!!!! A camera! Well, an accessory attachment. Which was almost the same size as the phone and produced terrible, terrible photos. I remember having to drive to Leeds to a repair centre to have the software upgraded to a bug free version. Those were the days (eyes start to get misty…)

I also had the chance of a loaner phone for a few months. I mention this as I really do see that SE had the real potential to do what Apple did, but it just didn’t happen. The phone was the P800. Symbian, touchscreen (resistive plastic), integrated camera, email and you also had a keypad if you wanted it. I took it on holiday and it was great. Its just a shame SE didn’t go in a certain direction, or things could be so much different today.

SonyEricsson T610. Nokia were still pumping out horrific phones, but SE hit everyone again with the T610, the successor to the T68i. A sleek candybar shape, half metal, lovely screen, it had everything you needed. I think my old one is still in use somewhere…

Still at Orange, I started getting loaners for a few weeks to test. Great times, and this actually started my association with CSP, sending Gears whatever information I could. The SPV range was starting to come out, I had a C500 prototype, I used a C550, M500, the first Blackberries and so many more.  I have to say though, I found Windows Mobile fiddly, a pain, although ActiveSync was ok!

By now, I had left orange, and I had, on T-Mobile, a SE K800. A great camera, a great interface, a great design… apart form the joystick in the middle. A design flaw meant that dust built up in the joystick contacts and a ritual had to be gone through every few days to clear it. Again, like other phones, this lived on for a few years after me, and I think it is still going. Six years after I bought it.

I bought into the hype, I saw the adverts, a lusted after it. The Nokia N95. After years of turning out rubbish (unless you bought a business phone) Nokia nailed it with the N95. Video, music, web browsing, customisable, great screen, great camera, GPS, wifi etc. I remember it being hooked up to the mains, plugged into my laptop by USB, blu-tacked onto the top of a window to get a signal. Epic. This phone was a legend, and possibly the first smartphone. I only traded it in as I was moving up and it was showing its age. I possibly had a small weep when I sent it off.

Some Samsung Jet thing. Well made, slim, absolutely horrific to use. 8MP camera, but everything else was terrible. My mate Rob got it as an upgrade. Hated it, let me use it. I hated it too. It was traded in for money before we burned it in an inferno of hate.

LG Renoir. Great camera, abysmal everything else. I have no idea why I agreed to get this abomination of a phone, I can only assume that drugs or alcohol were involved. Possibly both.

HTC Desire. My first Android phone. I rooted it, flashed it, wrote about it on CSP. I used it for everything. This was the first device that pretty much promised that the Mobile industry had been promising for a decade. Legendary. I was rather sad when I sold it.

The Galaxy Nexus. The time had come for something new. I realised, that I wanted a nexus as I wanted the software updates, and I wanted it free of manufacturer bloat. Its black, sleek, sexy, and quick. Were I compare to the girlfriends S3, that would be a Bentley, with all the bells and whistles, a massive super turbocharged engine and all the luxury gizmos you could want. My GNex is a Lamborghini Superleggera. Basic, stripped down, functional, awesome.

Here ends the list. There will have been omissions, ones that I have forgotten, or can’t place in a timeline. I remember some truly horrific things that were supposed to be phones, that I stayed away from like they had the plague. I can honestly say that I was there in the early days, and lived through the PR crap, disappointments, monochrome screens, rubbish cameras, no internet, crap internet, slow data, terrible ergonomics,batteries that only needed charging once a week rubbish and data suites and horrendous software of the last fifteen years. Admittedly though, its been 15 years of being amazed of what could be done, produced, and the uses that the devices would have. … The journey has been amazeballs.

You kids with your S3’s and your iPhones? Pah! You don’t know how good you have it!