It’s mind boggling how fast cell phone technology has evolved over the last ten years. Think about what cell phone you owned a decade ago, and chances are it wasn’t a smartphone. Researching cell phones from a decade has been a fun task where I came across articles like this one, where the author spoke to “cell phone addiction”.
“Some have even called cell phones “the new cigarettes,” seeing as how people fiddle with them in elevators, whip them out as soon as they leave the office, take “cell phone breaks” on the job and chat away while walking, driving, etc.”
Smartphones did exist in 2006, but the ones that are everyday names like the Galaxy S line or Apple iPhone had yet to be released. In 2006 most of us had Hotmail, Yahoo, or AOL email accounts, and Google’s Gmail was still a beta release. Gmail was an exclusive members only email account that were reserved for super tech enthusiasts like my friends who now work for Google. You needed an invite from a current user if you wanted your own Gmail account.
Cameras were used for photos. MP3 players like the Apple iPod and iPod Nano were used to play our music.
Facebook had just been invented by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, and Twitter got its start in 2006. Steve Ballmer was at the helm of Microsoft and laughed at the idea of the smartphone taking hold in the mass market.
A decade in technology is a lifetime in other industries. While I could continue on with my basic history lesson, it’s time to check out five popular cell phones from the US market from a decade ago.
Chances are high that you owned a Motorola RAZR back in the day. It was originally released in 2004, but had a strong hold on the US market for several years. It came in a wide variety of colors and was a super durable phone. It is the best selling clamshell style phone in history with over 130M units sold over its four year lifespan.
The camera was VGA quality (640 x 480), and had a whopping 5MB of internal memory that was not expandable. It did have Bluetooth capability for those old school headsets that seemed to have disappeared as well.
When I was researching this phone, I found a seller on Amazon who still sells them for $43! I might order one for those good old memories. I remember being wowed by the backlight flat numeric keypad on the RAZR and flipping it open with one hand. What a great phone this was back in 2006.
RIM Blackberry Pearl
For those of you who are younger than 25, do you know what RIM is the acronym for? If you guessed Research in Motion then good on you. Since then RIM changed its name to Blackberry Limited, but in 2006 it was a company so big, that no one at the time would dare think RIM would stumble.
At the time, RIM was the most popular maker of phones for business consumers, and the Pearl was its first attempt at a consumer grade cell phone. It had the ability to use Blackberry’s email service, had an integrated camera, music playback service, and a track ball to navigate the phone’s menu. As you can see in the image above, RIM made a custom keyboard just for this phone since its users “needed” a keyboard.
The LG Chocolate brings back good memories for me. My girlfriend at the time owned this phone as we were both customers of Verizon back then. I remember thinking this phone was cool because it was different than the Moto RAZR, and it was a slider rather than a clamshell. It came in colors called Mint Chocolate, White Chocolate, Strawberry Chocolate and Cherry Chocolate.
It was a cool phone because it had 128MB of onboard memory, expandable via micro SD, for the MP3 playback feature it offered. It was one of the first mainstream phones that competed with stand alone MP3 platers. The original commercial for the LG Chocolate is included below for your viewing pleasure. If you are wondering why the video is so blurry, it is because HD wasn’t as standard back then as it is today. DANG I’M OLD.
Nokia was a household name a decade ago, and the 6070 was a very popular phone at the time. It was released in February of 2006, had a 1.5″ 65k color display, 3.2MB of internal storage, and had an integrated FM radio. Its main selling points were its budget price and solid durability. You can read the full review of the Nokia 6070 here at Techradar.
Samsung released the D900 as a premium slider that was marketed as the world’s thinnest slider phone. Like LG, Samsung was an up-and-comer in the cell phone market, and the D900 impressed many including CNET which named it the Best Slider phone of 2006.
It had Bluetooth capability, MP3 ringtones, 60MB of internal storage expandable up to 2GB via microSD, MP3 playback capability, and a massive 3.15MP digital camera. Other notable features were its Calendar and Calculator app, and best of all its Java games. Back then Samsung charged a whopping $699.99 for this phone which is similar to the flagship Samsung pricing of today.
You can read the full review of the D900 at CNET.
Seeing the evolution of cell phones from 2006 to 2016 gives me great hope for cell phones in 2026…that is if cell phones even exist in a decade. Maybe they will be replaced by some other technology that has yet to be dreamed up. And who knows, maybe Samsung and Apple might be replaced by some company we are just hearing about now like Huawei or Xiaomi.
For those of you who were old enough to own a cell phone in 2006, which phone did you own? Let us know in the comments below.
I hope you enjoyed my quick history lesson and I hope to be writing about the latest and greatest in mobile tech ten years from now.