For a long time, Nokia made smartphones that ruled the world. The Symbian smartphone platform became synonymous with Nokia and even as recently as 2010, Symbian devices formed close to 50% of the total global smartphone market. Between 2002 and 2010, Nokia released at least 20 blockbuster smartphones, each one unique in design and appeal. We take a look at Nokia’s five most iconic phones…
1. Nokia 7650
The oddly designed (by today’s standards) Nokia 7650 was the first ever Nokia smartphone powered by the popular Symbian Series 60 platform. It was officially released in 2002 and even then, the phone boasted of VGA camera (the first in any Nokia phone), Bluetooth, infrared remote, installable applications and a web browser.
The icon-based user interface could be navigated using the 5-way joystick while the sliding keyboard kept the overall size in check. The 7650 marked the start of Nokia’s dominance in the smartphone world. Even though the same Symbian Series 60 platform was used by other brands like Sony Ericsson, Motorola, and Samsung — it was Nokia that has the most successful run with it.
2. Nokia 6600
This ‘soap shaped’ Symbian S60 smartphone was wildly popular the world over. It had a shape that felt comfortable in the hand and some of the design innovations included placing the answer/end buttons on either side of the screen.
It was launched in 2003 but importantly, this was the first S60 device to very quickly sell over a million units — it continued selling well in many parts of the world till 2007. Some of the highlights were an easily interchangeable outer shell (to make it look like new again if it got scuffed), Bluetooth, infrared remote, camera, compatibility with thousands of apps and the ability to expand the memory using an MMc card.
3. Nokia N-Gage series
Identifying the need to attract a younger audience and recognizing the vast potential of the thousands of games on offer, Nokia introduced the N-Gage series in 2003. This was designed to be held sideways (like a gaming controller) and the buttons and D-pad on either side of the screen meant that you could use it to play games for hours without fatigue.
Although the hardware was nothing significantly better than other S60 phones of the time, the oddball shape is what made it popular — it was the forebearer of the mobile as a gaming platform. There were multiple versions of the N-Gage and they sold almost 4 million units in total.
4. Nokia Communicators
Even before the QWERTY-equipped BlackBerry became popular, there was a need for productivity phones. These business behemoths could barely fit in a pocket but still became powerful status symbols. The Communicator range (the first designs actually appeared way back in 1996) was marked by a peculiar design — they had a small screen numeric keypad on the outside but opened up to reveal a super-wide display and QWERTY keypad inside.
The idea was that they could be used as normal phones without opening the flip – but when the extra productivity was needed for a spreadsheet or long email, the device could be opened up and propped on a table – just like a mini laptop. The 9500 Communicator (2004) and the E90 (2007) were huge favourites.
5. Nokia 808
In 2012, Nokia 808 became the last of the Symbian smartphones — it was primarily a camera with a phone tacked on and even today, it can beat most of the smartphones around when it comes down to the image quality stakes.
Ten years of camera innovation led Nokia to this device, which featured a 41MP sensor, PureView technology (which used data from the 41MP sensor to create a better, lower resolution image), Xenon flash and Carl Zeiss optics.