Turning twenty

  • Sneha Mahale, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Aug 21, 2014 14:53 IST

The world’s first smartphone — ‘Simon’— celebrated its 20th birthday on August 16 amid much fanfare. Now, we trace the landmark changes in the constantly evolving modern-day gadget.

The first smartphone was released in 1994. The IBM Simon — with touch-screen display — could be used to make and receive calls, take notes, update calendar and contacts, and even send faxes. It was the first mobile phone to feature applications or ‘apps’.

Bringing multiple features — like email, Internet access, ability to send faxes, black-and white LCD screen, word processing, spreadsheets and more — to a single device, the first GSM-based Nokia 9000 Communicator hit shelves this year.

The WAP browser was introduced with the Nokia 7110.

Integrating GPS into a mobile phone, the Benefon Esc! was sold mainly in Europe.

Marketed as a ‘smartphone’, the Ericsson R380 was also among the first devices to use the Symbian OS.

The first camera phones were out the same year. Available only in Japan, the J-SH04 had a 256-colour display. Similarly, the SCH-V200 with a built-in camera was manufactured by Samsung and released in South Korea.

MP3 music capabilities on a mobile phone were introduced to the world with the Samsung SPH-M100 Uproar.

Offering “premium features” like infrared, a fully functional calendar and an FM Radio, the Nokia 8310 created a lot of buzz.

Among the first Bluetooth-integrated phones was the Ericsson T39.

GPRS on mobile phones was probably introduced to the world when the Siemens S45 hit shelves.

One of the world’s first 3G phones, the Nokia 6650 was announced in late 2002.

Gaming came into the limelight when Nokia’s answer to the Game Boy Advance, the N-Gage phone/games system, was unveiled.

Capable of using Wi-fi to connect users to the Internet at 11 Mbps for the first time, the Calypso C1250i cellular video phone enabled real-time video conferencing and improved movie quality.

Integrated voice calling arrived in 2003 with the Blackberry ‘Quark’ family of smartphones.

Global roaming truly became a reality with the launch of the Nokia 6630.

With multi-touch screen, new software and more, the iPhone launched changing the world of smartphones forever.

Android software was unveiled to the world with the HTC Dream (also known as the T-Mobile G1).

According to reports, the world’s slimmest 5MP camera smartphone in 2008 was the LG Secret.

The world’s first carbon-neutral cell phone came out. The eco-friendly Motorola W233 Renew phone was made with recycled water bottles.

Dual-core processors for Android-based phones made an entry when the LG Optimus 2X was announced.

At the time of its launch, the thinnest smartphone in the world — at only 7.1 mm thick on most of the device — was the Motorola’s Droid Razr.

Water- and dust-proof devices made their way into the mainstream, with Sony Xperia Z leading the way.

Rotating camera smartphones arrived in the same year when the Oppo N1 was announced.

A 41MP camera phone was introduced with the Nokia Lumia 1020 in 2013.

Touch ID — using your fingerprint as a passcode to access the mobile phone — was unveiled with the iPhone 5s.

Focusing on privacy and control ahead of everything else, the Blackphone was showcased earlier this year.

3D imaging came to the world of smartphones when the first device by Amazon – Fire – was unveiled this year.

From 3D printing-capability to NFC, rumours around the soon-to-be unveiled iPhone 6 already has everyone in a tizzy.

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