Best retro phones we’d all like to see come back

(Pocket-lint) – Everyone remembers their first mobile phone.

And with each new phone release, we can’t help but think about all the retro phones we loved way back when and how awesome they’d be if a company rejigged them for modern times. Here are a few standout models, which we’re sure you’ll all remember, and now, just imagine how they’d look and work now.

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Nokia Cityman

The Cityman was one of the first “compact” phones. The phone had a total weight of 760g and measured a whopping 183 x 43 x 79mm. Similar to the Mobira Talkman series, the Cityman was released by Nokia-Mobira.

It became famous in 1989 when Mikhail Gorbachev, then-president of the Soviet Union, used a Cityman 900 to call Moscow during a press conference held in Helsinki, Finland. It of course then got the nickname “Gorba”.

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Motorola DynaTAC

This phone series, made from 1984 to 1984, was made famous in many movies both released and set in the 1980s, such as Wall Street (Gordon Gekko uses it on the beach to talk to Buddy) and American Psycho.

There were several handsets released over the 10-year period, but the pinnacle of the series had an LED screen, so you could at least see the number you were calling, while the battery allowed for a call of up to 60 minutes, after which it was necessary to charge the phone for up to 10 hours in a trickle charger.

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Sony CMD Z1

Introduced in 1997, the CMD Z1 was a Star Trek fan’s dream phone. Its diminutive dimensions and overall look made it feel like a Star Trek Communicator, but it was small, flip out mouthpiece that made us really feel like we were on the Enterprise.

It could make phone calls and send text messages, but that was about it. There were no games, no radio and no speaker, but we didn’t care, we could pretend we were Captain Kirk.

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Pam Treo 600

The Treo 600 was a phone developed by Handspring in 2003, but it was sold under the palmOne brand after the merger of the two companies. It let you check your calendar while talking on the phone, dial directly from contacts list, take pictures, send emails, and it had a favourites screen and provided quick access to phone functions.

These features, as well as the camera and bright colour screen, helped the Treo 600 to become the most successful Treo. It also fueled Palm’s transition from a PDA manufacturer to a smartphone pioneer.

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Ericsson T28

When Ericsson Mobile launched the T28 in 1999, it was the first mobile phone to use a lithium polymer battery. Ericsson described the T28 as “designer technology”, and unlike its bar-shaped rivals, it had a fixed antenna stub, “active flip” keypad cover, and fancy features such as voice dialing and an optional Bluetooth dongle.

But its success lay in that it was the smallest and lightest phone available at the time. Weighing in at 81g, the T28 sparked the trend for pocket-ability, which we still see today.

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BlackBerry 6210

The 6210 was the first BlackBerry phone to have actually have an integrated phone, all other preceding BlackBerry’s required an external headset to be attached. The 6210 was also the phone that really kickstarted BlackBerry, combining phone and messaging, with e-mail, web browser and BlackBerry Messenger.

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Motorola V70

The V70 from 2002 simply looked (and still does) cool. As such, it remains a recognisable device. Considered a fashion phone back in its day, the V70 had a swiveling circular monochrome panel with a neon backlight keypad.

It even had interchangeable frames. Despite these crazy design features, it was a fairly basic phone with just a WAP browser, GPRS, vibrating mode, and voice dialing. It was also a pretty lightweight handset at just 83g. And modern features such as Bluetooth, a camera, and colour display were absent.

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Nokia Mobira Talkman

From 1984 to 1992, Nokia manufactured — via its Mobira partnership with TV-maker Salora — the Mobira Talkman line of crazy-large cell phones you could carry with you… if your arms were strong enough to lift the massive block/suitcase attached to the phone.

It was available on the world’s first roaming international mobile phone network, called the Nordic Mobile Telephone, which was a service set up by Mobira.

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Motorola StarTAC

Announced in 1996, the Motorola StarTAC phone something we had yet to see in mobile phones: it was sleek and small. Marketed as a “wearable cellular telephone”, it was the smallest, lightest mobile phone ever. It had a clamshell design reminiscent of the communicators on Star Trek, and it was the first phone to offer vibrate mode instead of a ringer.

It was a cell phone you could carry around without looking or sounding like a dork. It’s no wonder that it became one of the first mobile phones to gain widespread consumer adoption.

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Motorola Razr V3

What can we say about the Motorola Razr? The ultimate classic. 

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Motorola i860

The Motorola i860 was a flip phone from 2004. It had a colour main display, numeric keypad, and speakerphone. But it stood out because it was one of the first phones on Nextel’s iDEN network, which enabled it to offer push-to-talk, a popular feature that was basically like a coast to coast walkie-talkie capability. It also had true GPS and a rugged design. Later iterations even added a camera and other fancy features for the time.

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LG Chocolate

Another handset to capitalise on the emerging clamour for pink gadgets was the LG Chocolate. While it wasn’t the first in the range, with the original colour scheme coming in a box that smelt like, well, chocolate, the pink version pretty much changed the landscape for gadgets, not just mobile phones.

LG sold bucketloads of each of the variations of this slider cellphone-MP3 player hybrid. But one of the more interesting design aspects off the Chocolate was that the face had no tactile buttons, but rather touch-sensitive panels. And now LG is no longer making phones. How times have changed. 

Writing by Maggie Tillman and Max Langridge. Editing by Adrian Willings.





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