Best Nokia phones that changed the world

Smart Solutions

We've taken a trip through the Finns’ greatest handset hits – and misses -here are the best Nokia phones ever

Nokia Cityman (1987)

We’ve got fond memories of the original 3310 (good luck beating our Snake high score, people) . Nokia regularly shifted the gadget-time continuum with its crazy concepts and unbreakable bricks. We’ve revisited the best Nokia phones ever here.

This little wander down memory lane also takes in a few models that really weren’t all that. Because Nokia was out on its own, beholden to no one, its moments of brilliant boundary-pushing were matched by moments of the purest wrong-headedness the tech world has ever seen. Some of its more experimental designs were utter howlers, both aesthetically and ergonomically.

Their like may never be seen again, and in a curious way, we regret their passing almost as much as we do those of such design greats as the 3310 and Lumia 800. So join us in celebrating a time when it didn’t seem the height of daftness to organise your alphanumeric keyboard like a clock.

Available in “450” and “900” editions (named for the frequencies in MHz they used on the Nordic Mobile Telephony system), the Cityman was Nokia’s first mobile phone and regarded as a sleek, high-end and highly desirable product. How times change. The brick-like handset established the Finnish company as a major telephony player by 1988, helped Nokia secure almost 15 percent of the global mobile phone market.

Nokia 5110 (1998)

One of the many Nokia models that became near-ubiquitous in British universities, high streets and offices, the 5110 was nigh-on impervious to anything the world could throw at it, had excellent battery life and, of course, came with the beloved Snake on board. You could also pop off the front panel and swap it with one of several bright-coloured replacements because, well, customisation.

Nokia 3650 (2002)

Equipped with a colour screen, a VGA camera able to shoot both stills and video and a what-the-hell-were-they-thinking circular keypad, the 3650 was the first Symbian Series 60 smartphone to launch in the US. It featured 3.4MB of built-in storage!

Understandably, Nokia was keen to talk up the 3650’s video capture abilities in ads, resulting in the above TV spot which attracted – again, understandably – a considerable amount of criticism from cat lovers. It’s about as tasteful as that circular keypad.

Nokia 3310 (2000)

A handset so hardy and dependable it spawned a meme, the 3310 also sold like hotcakes. Nokia shifted almost 130 million of these brick-like reliability machines: if you laid them end-to-end, they’d reach from Helsinki to Santiago, Chile. It was hugely popular with text addicts, as it allowed messages of 459 characters (three times the norm) and displayed chats in easy-to-follow threaded form.

Nokia N90 (2005)

The N90 was one of three handsets launched by Nokia at the glitzy Nseries intro event back in 2005. This was a massive leap forward at the time: a recognition that phones and computers were finally coalescing.

The other devices launched – the altogether less bonkers N70 and the ludicrously oversized N91 (which had a 4GB hard disk for music storage inside – yep, a mechanical hard disk, spinning platters and all) – pushed boundaries in their own ways, but the N90 was the most overtly ‘converged’ device, looking as it did like a camcorder with phone buttons grafted on.

It felt like the future, albeit a bit of a clunky, silly future in which phones were going to be far less ergonomic for a bit. But these Nseries devices were the precursors of the multi-purpose smartphones of today, and the N90 can rightly claim to be the grandfather of the 23MP Xperia XZ and dual camera-wielding LG G5s that occupy the modern tech landscape.

Nokia 6810 (2004)

There was certainly a point when Nokia would throw everything at the design wall in case something stuck. Case in point: the 6810’s fold-out QWERTY keyboard, which looked totally ridiculous but actually allowed reasonably fast typing for texts and emails. Heck, even BlackBerry email was supported by this Optimus Prime of the telephony world.

Nokia N93 (2006)

The S60-based N93 was all about multimedia: its twisty physical design allowed it to function as an easy-to-hold camcorder (with a 3x optical zoom, no less) one minute and a desktop screen for video playback the next.

Video quality was pitched – as you can see in the glossy TV ad above, starring none other that Gary Oldman – as “DVD quality”, although in reality the camera was more suited to capturing happy slapping incidents than Hollywood-style glossiness. Still, at the time of its launch, it was the world’s finest camera phone, and also offered cutting edge features such as Wi-Fi and 3G.

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