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  • Updated: January 17, 2023

Ten Oldest Cell Phones In The World

The development of cellular/mobile phones began in the early 1900s as phone companies began to explore wireless technology.

The Motorola DynaTAC, the first commercial cell phone, was produced in 1983. It would take several decades for all the parts that make cell phones function to emerge.

Following this, cellular phone technology advanced quickly, giving rise to the smartphones that we all know and love (or hate) today.

This listicle features the ten oldest cell phones in the world which had a lasting impact on society.


10. Nokia 9000 Communicator

Release Date: August 15, 1996
Manufactured By: Nokia
Original Retail Price: $800+ (about $1,362 in 2021)

One of the first real smartphones, the Nokia 9000 Communicator was regarded as a mobile office.

It was a little gadget with all the functionality of an office, including word processing, spreadsheets, online surfing, faxing, and phone calls.

However, the Nokia 9000 Communicator was rather hefty, weighing in at 397 grams, while being able to perform all of these tasks (14.0 oz).

The Nokia 9000 Communicator came out years before the Blackberry gained popularity among business people, making it decades ahead of its time.

An Intel 24 MHz i386 CPU and 8 GB of memory ran this mobile office. A full QWERTY keyboard and an LCD were seen when it was opened up.

The Nokia 9000 Communicator had a suite of business programs that could read and edit Microsoft Office files from a desktop PC.

9. Nokia 8110

Release Date: September 9, 1996
Manufactured By: Nokia
Original Retail Price: Unspecified

The Nokia 8110, sometimes known as the banana phone, was introduced in 1996 as the first phone in Nokia's high-end 8000 series and immortalized by The Matrix.

It was distinguished by its modern style and slidable keyboard cover.

This was the first cell phone to incorporate a sliding design element of any kind. Additionally, it was the first LCD graphic-equipped Nokia phone.

The Nokia 8110's status as the first cell phone to use Smart SMS technology is another distinctive quality. This provided users with the ability to send and receive ringtones using text messaging in addition to other features.

In 2018, a modern version of the Nokia 8110, dubbed the Nokia 8110 4G, made its debut and even had a yellow colourway as a homage to its “banana phone” nickname.

8. Motorola StarTAC

Release Date: January 3, 1996
Manufactured By: Motorola
Original Retail Price: $1,000 (about $1,702 in 2021)

One of the most recognizable cell phones from the 1990s is probably the Motorola StarTAC.

It was the successor to Motorola's previous MicroTAC, which was also a partly flip phone, and the first genuine clamshell or flip phone.

The StarTAC, which was effectively the first genuinely mobile phone, was quite tiny by the standards of cell phones at the time.

Because of its diminutive size, Motorola marketed the StarTAC as a "wearable mobile phone." All you needed was a hip holster, which with the advent of StarTAC became a hugely popular item.

There were other variations of the original Motorola StarTAC model (3000) that added functionality or came in unique colours, such as the Rainbow colourway introduced in 1998.

The Motorola StarTAC changed history by becoming the first cell phone to gain widespread consumer adoption.

It has remained such a popular vintage cell phone that Motorola revived the brand name twice: first in 2004 for a model released in the South Korean market and again in 2007 when the StarTAC III was released.

7. Hagenuk MT-2000

Release Date: 1994
Manufactured By: Hagenuk
Original Retail Price: Unspecified

The Hagenuk MT-2000 achieved several milestones, much like many of the other pioneering mobile phones on this list.

A mobile phone's inbuilt antenna was first used in the Hagenuk MT-2000.

Before this (and even after), all mobile phones, regardless of manufacturer, had to have conventional antennas to improve their signal.

Additionally, the Hagenuk MT-2000 and the Hagenuk MT-900 were the first mobile phones to include soft keys (buttons that have more than one function).

The Hagenuk MT-2000 and the firm were not well-liked enough to survive the mobile phone wars, even though they both set several firsts and entered the GSM phone market early.

In 1995, a year after the Hagenuk MT-2000 was introduced, Hagenuk handed up its mobile phone operation.

For many years, it was widely believed that the Hagenuk MT-2000 was the first cell phone to come pre-loaded with a mobile game.

However, it turns out that the Siemens S1 (released in 1993) had a hidden game of Tetris and IBM Simon (released earlier in 1994) had Scrabble.


6. IBM Simon

Release Date: August 16, 1994
Manufactured By: IBM and Mitsubishi Electric
Original Retail Price: $899 to $1099 (about $1,620 to $1,980 in 2021)

The IBM Simon made its debut in 1994 as the very first smartphone, a year before the name "smartphone" was invented (because of this phone's capabilities) and decades before it became a typical personal item.

A touchscreen PDA (personal digital assistant) called the IBM Simon was created by IBM and made by Mitsubishi Electric.

BellSouth Cellular Corp. sold it for $1,099 without a contract or $899 with a two-year service plan.

After the IBM Simon prototype was made public in 1992, the business spent the following two years creating a commercial version.

The IBM Simon could send and receive faxes, emails, and cellular pages in addition to making and receiving calls on mobile phones.

The phone also has a standard and predictive stylus input screen keyboard, an address book, a calendar, an appointment planner, a calculator, a global time clock, an electronic notepad, and handwritten notes.

The IBM Simon was only on the market for six months and about 50,000 units were sold.

5. Nokia 1011

Release Date: November 10, 1992
Manufactured By: Nokia
Original Retail Price: 2500 DM (German Mark) (about $1,557)

The Nokia 1011 was both the first mass-produced GSM mobile phone and the company's first commercially available cell phone.

The Nokia 1011 was rather small and could fit in pockets and handbags by the standards of the day.

In addition, this was the first commercially available mobile phone with text messaging capabilities, which launched Nokia's domination in the cell phone industry over the following several years.

After the Nokia 1011 was introduced, Nokia decided to almost entirely concentrate on creating GSM phones, while its rival Motorola continued to make analogue phones.

The model number of the Nokia 1011 refers to its release date on the 10th of November.

4. Motorola International 3200

Release Date: 1992
Manufactured By: Motorola
Original Retail Price: $1,238 (about $2,284 in 2020)

The Motorola International 3200 was the first digital hand-held mobile phone, even though British manufacturer Orbitel beat Motorola to market.

The International 3200, which became commercially accessible in 1983, was created to replace the original analogue cell technology created in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It had the same appearance as the preceding brick phones, but it wasn't as heavy or as big, even though mobile phones were getting smaller due to the new GSM technology.

The Motorola International 3200 charged in five hours and had a standby duration of eight hours and a talk time range of 30 to one hour.

Because the Motorola International 3200 used the GSM network, any existing models could still technically work on any current 900 MHz GSM networks that are still in operation.


3. Orbitel 901

Release Date: 1991
Manufactured By: Orbitel
Original Retail Price: Unspecified

The first GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) mobile phone was the Orbitel 901, despite its appearance resembling a landline phone.

Although the first cell phones were invented in the United States, European telecoms firms were the first to invest in digital cellular technology and switch from analogue networks.

The Orbitel 901 was created by Racal and Plessey in collaboration with the British business Orbitel.

It wasn't particularly popular because of how difficult it was to use, but it made later GSM devices possible.

The first phone made available by the UK's first GSM service, Vodaphone, was the Orbitel.

The Orbitel 901 was the first phone to ever receive a text message on December 3, 1992, when Neil Papworth of Sema Group (now Mavenir Systems) used his computer to send the message, “Merry Christmas,” to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone on his Orbitel 901.


2. Motorola MicroTAC 9800X

Release Date: April 25, 1989
Manufactured By: Motorola
Original Retail Price: $2,495 to $3,495 (about $5,373 to $7,527 in 2021)

To address the weight and bulk of its older DynaTAC models, Motorola created the MicroTAC 9800X, the first semi-flip phone in history.

The mouthpiece was originally located on the phone's flip-down portion, but it was later moved to the phone's base.

Every flip phone that was released in the market over the ensuing decades was inspired by this legendary phone.

When open, the MicroTAC measured 9 inches (23 cm) long, weighed 12.3 ounces (350 g), and included a thin battery.

The cell phone may easily fit in a shirt pocket.

The Motorola MicroTAC was available in several variations until being replaced by the Motorola StarTAC in 1996.

Some of the features of the Motorola MicroTAC 9800X include security codes, two phone number operations, a charge rate and currency calculator, secretarial memory scratchpads, hands-free operation, keypad tones, memory protection, and phone number and name storage.

1. Motorola DynaTAC 8000X

Release Date: 1983
Manufactured By: Motorola
Original Retail Price: $3,995 (about $10,712 in 2021)

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, aka the “brick phone”, became the first commercial cellular phone to receive FCC approval on September 21, 1983, making it the oldest cell phone ever in the world.

Motorola intended to create portable mobile technology since it has long developed mobile phones for automobiles.

In 1973, a phone call-making prototype that served as the basis for the Motorola DynaTAC was completed.

The Motorola DynaTAC was ultimately made available to the general public in 1984 after Motorola invested more than $100 million in its development over the ensuing ten years.

The Motorola DynaTAC was cumbersome to operate, bulky, and heavy by today's standards.

It could only make calls for up to 60 minutes and needed 10 hours to charge.

Despite all of this, the Motorola DynaTAC had a waiting list for purchases, and this iconic cell phone ignited decades of invention, study, and development that resulted in today's smartphones.

The first commercial wireless call made on a Motorola DynaTAC 8000X took place on October 13, 1983, when David D. Meilahn to Bob Barnett, former president of Ameritech Mobile Communications, who then used his DynaTAC to call the grandson of Alexander Graham Bell, who was in Germany.

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Rasheed Olajide Awoniyi
Rasheed Olajide Awoniyi

Rasheed Olajide Awoniyi is a Master's degree holder in International Affairs and Diplomacy, A Ba...

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