From the brick phone to the iPhone: Visit the web museum for mobiles

There are museums for art, natural history, cars, and many other things so why not one for mobile phones?

That was the thought of technology enthusiasts Ben Wood and Matt Chatterley and so at the end of 2021 they opened the Mobile Phone Museum.

Their museum is unusual not only in its subject matter, but also because the collection is online rather than being in a building you can visit.

Wood and Chatterley have collected more than 2,200 smartphone models, including the first GSM cell phone for fully digital mobile networks, the Motorola International 3200 from 1992. It’s a “brick phone” with an antenna and weighs more than half a kilo.

But it was revolutionary at the time, since before that mobile telephony in analogue networks meant chunky devices that weighed around five kilos. Because they were too bulky to lug around, the owners of those early mobiles usually kept them in their cars.

In the course of the 1990s, cell phones became increasingly pocket-friendly. Ericsson, Nokia, and Siemens built many models with stubby antennas that weighed only around 300 grams, and in some cases much less.

The collection also contains distant precursors of modern smartphones, such as the IBM Simon from 1993 or the foldable keyboard cell phone Nokia 9000 Communicator from 1996.

There’s also the first cell phone with a one-megapixel camera, the Sharp GX30, which came onto the market in 2004.

From there it was not so far to the first major smartphone, the original iPhone, which in 2007 combined already common hardware elements with a completely new type of software and interface. The first Android smartphone, the HTC Dream, followed in 2008.

The museum catalogue can be filtered by type, brand, and year or by collection. The collections include include Best Selling, James Bond Phones, Ugliest, First, Luxury, and Fashion.

Among the best-selling cell phones in the museum are the simple Nokia 3310 (2000) and Motorola’s Razr V3 flip phone (2004).

The First collection includes the first devices in series that achieved global fame, such as the Sony Ericsson W800 (2005), the first Walkman phone, and the Samsung Galaxy S (2010), the forerunner of the Korean manufacturer’s popular S series.

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