Design history of the mobile phone


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Design history of the mobile phone

  1. 1. The Design History of the Mobile Phone Killian Stone 09005157
  2. 2. Design History of the Mobile Phone Since the dawn of mankind communication has been one of those primal instincts whichhas continuously developed. Mobile communication was a major step in this development.The invention of the first mobile phone in 1973 has made the world a much smaller placethan ever before as you can contact anyone you know with the touch of a button. Along withthe advances in technology being achieved by these phone companies was a need for new‘flashy’ mobile phone designs to take the market by storm. An awful lot has changed in theworld of mobile phone design since the original 1973 model up to the more modern andmore aesthetically pleasing iPhone 4. Mobile Phone design has been through quite a lot,from the loss of the external antenna to the introduction of the touch screen and nearly everydesign application has a basis in the technological advances being made in the mobilephone industry.Dr. Martin Cooper of Motorola with the first cell phone (1973). iPhone 4 – available as of 2010. The first truly portable mobile phone to hit the market was the Motorola MicroTAC 9800Xreleased in 1989. This was the introduction of the ‘flip’ open cell phone concept where themouthpiece folded over the keypad. This set the design for modern flip phones which havebecome so widely used today. It also set a challenge for all other manufacturers, to make amobile phone which was smaller and more efficient than anything available on the market atthat time, and so the mobile phone race began. As companies began to make mobile phones smaller and more powerful, designers wheregiven the chance to come up with a mobile phone which was both asthectically pleasing andfully functional.Nokia was the first company to manage to mass produce a mobile phone, the Nokia 1011which remained in production up until 1994.
  3. 3. The handset was only available in black and measured 195 x 60 45mm featuring anextendable external antenna and a monochrome display. This mobile proved extreamlypopular and is widely belived to be the reason for Nokias stronghold over the mobile marketup until recent years. Nokia 1011 – first mass produced GSM mobile phone. The next major step in Mobile phone design advances was the introduction of the ‘SmartPhone’ a device that could do much more than just make and receive calls. In 1994, after ajoint effort by IBM and BellSouth the IBM Simon was born. Simon was a very advancedpiece of technology at its time. Besides being a mobile phone it also had applications for acalendar, address book, world clock, calculator, note pad, email and even games. It was alsothe first mobile phone to work with touch screen technology and also display a QWERTYkeyboard. IBM Simon – World first ‘Smart Phone’. Along with the introduction of the worlds first ‘Smart Phone’ came a change in the waymobile phones could be used. A cell phone was no longer just a device which gave the userthe ability to communicate but also allowed the user to store information, meetings, memos,and send email. This was a huge step in the evolution of the mobile phone. As mobile phones gained the ability to be more than just a communications device mobilephone designers attempted to hold on to there ‘portable’ function by producing smaller
  4. 4. models. The most popular of which was the Nokia 8210 released in 1999. The 8210 was thesmallest, lightest model available at the time, though it seems considerably ‘chunky’ whencompared to today’s slimline models. Designers also created removable ‘Xpress-on’ covers,6 released by Nokia themselves as well as many third-party ones. This introduced mobilecompanies to the idea of creative designs on their handhelds. Nokia 8210 – smallest phone available at the time The introduction of this phone also caused many other phone companies to begincompeting to produce a mobile phone which not only had several impressive functions butwould remain lightweight and handheld. The Nokia 8210 changed the direction of mobilephone design, but only for a brief period. In 2001 Sony Ericsson struck back with the T68, the first phone to have a colour screen, abig step forward at the time, also allowing for it to be the first phone with two way MMS(multimedia messaging service) yet lacked a camera. Sony Ericsson T68
  5. 5. Nokia took the spotlight again in 2003 by producing a mobile phone/handheld gamingdevice hybrid, the N-Gage in an attempt to lure people away from the GameBoy Advance.However this was all in vain as the buttons for a mobile phone did not transfer over well to agaming device and many users felt it was a disappointment. Nokia attempted to re-releasethe N-Gage in 2004 with a smaller, sleeker model but it fell to the same reviews. Nokia N-Game Gaming Mobile Nokia decided to dump the N-Gage series but retained the software to use in future smartphones which could better handle the gaming system requirements. This gave Nokia acompetitive edge within the mobile gaming community and helped retain Nokias good nameafter the failure of the N-gage. Designers now had a broader range of concepts for mobile design than ever before; thisallowed for more design choices to be made. Nokia were the first manufacturers to stormahead in the mobile phone world producing numerous different models to the marketaccompanying for a very broad range of customers. Mobiles phones containing MP3 players,digital cameras, alarms, and games were all available to the public. Many manufacturershowever decided on a specific direction to take with their designs, this caused for a splitbetween the regular mobile phone, the smart phone and the camera phone. Smart phonesbecame increasingly popular in the business world due to the many functions available onthem such as GPS and e-mail. The camera phone became more popular among youngergenerations as social networking sites allowed for mobile phone pictures to be uploadedonline to the user’s profile. The step between taking a picture on a mobile and using acomputer to upload it was removed when mobile phones became internet ready and thepictures could be uploaded instantly from anywhere in the world. Competition began to stir in the smart phone market in 2004 when Treo released the Treo600, a highly-capable smart phone but its fame was short lived due to the introduction of theBlackberry. Blackberry have managed to successfully retain the position as the best smartphone manufacturers to this day by creating well designed phones for the business person oftoday, with GPS, e-mail and PC like applications such as MS Word. Blackberry Curve 8900
  6. 6. In 2007 Apple introduced the world to the iPhone, which inevitably changed the direction ofmobile phone design once again. The iPhone featured a multi-touch screen, impressivecamera, and internet access like no other mobile. The iPhone also covered the gamingaspect of the mobile with thousands of downloadable apps available online by both Appleand third-parties. The iPhones impressive looks alongside its many functions gave Apple anice slice of the mobile phone market prior to its release and was one of the most highlyanticipated mobile phone releases in history. iPhone - took the market by storm in 2007 The iPhone design removed the keypad and made the entire phone touch screen based.This allowed for a smooth glossy phone which was loved by all. The iPhone also opened adoor for the ‘iPhone Killers’. The term iPhone Killer was given to many phones released from2008 to this day which were based on the iPhones original design concept. That is one of ascreen based front to the phone with no buttons visible. The most successful of which to thisdate is the HTC Desire 2. Openly based on the iPhones design with little differences the HTCDesire 2 is a beautifully designed mobile phone with as many functions and apps available toit as the iPhone itself, however due to Apples stronghold on the market thanks to the originaliPhone HTC never managed to outsell Apple. HTC Desire 2 - iPhone Killer
  7. 7. The question now though is ‘what’s next for mobile phone design?’ There are many futureconcepts for mobile design available online though nobody can know for sure which ones willactually go into production. New technologies allow for bendable material to be used indesign and this appears to be where most mobile phone concepts are heading. One thing wecan know for sure is that mobile phone design will continue to take dramatic turns in itsdirection and produce phones that we could never have dreamt of. Nokia 888 - Mobile phone concept
  8. 8. References:Cassavoy, L. (2007). In Pictures: A History of Cell Phones. Available: accessed 20th April 2011.Fling, B (2009). Mobile Design and Development. USA: OReilly Media. p1-10.Lindholm, C (2003). Mobile usability. USA: The McGraw-Hill Companies. p139-144.Steve. (2009). Your Future Is Calling. Available: Last accessed 25th April 2011.TechiCore. (2010). A brief history of mobile phones. Available: Last accessed 15th April 2011