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February 28, 2024 - @617.74 (what is this?)
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Author Topic: The innovative and daring design of old phones  (Read 610 times)
shevek
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« on: July 09, 2023 @575.81 »

My girlfriend used to work at a place that received old phones and other electronics and either recycled or restored them for sale. Through that, she came across some very interesting old phones. It made us realize that todays mass market, profit oriented approach as well as the vanishing of buttons and ports is very limiting and boring. All phones tend to look the same (aside from the new foldables).

I thought I would share some interesting designs and concepts here with you, more to follow soon!
To be honest, over the time she worked there, we were a bit messy with storing the images in one place, so we are still working on finding all that she took a picture of, but here are 6 for now:



I really enjoy the circular alignment of the keyboard buttons here! Not doing the usual rectangular alignment is really fun.



Similar-ish here. Love the playing around with the button design and connecting them in specific ways to create shapes.



This stuck out to us because of its crystal-ish, geometric pattern design in all elements. It looks super fancy and unique for a flip phone!





This one has a really circular, compact and symmetrical look, and to me somehow looks more modern than our phones nowadays. Love the glossy, glittery finish.



The best for last - this is the Nokia N-Gage QD, the successor of the initial N-Gage! A phone meant to be used as a handheld console too. It has a slot to put games in that specifically released for it, and were similar in quality to the Gameboy games. This one actually still has a Tomb Raider cartridge in the slot, which is great.

I'll add some more soon, but feel free to add any thoughts you might have :smile:
« Last Edit: January 07, 2024 @685.41 by shevek » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2023 @633.00 »

I saw a post on tumblr a while back that mocked modern smartphone design saying they're all inbred so they look the same, and the genetic diversity present in old phones was more healthy for the species lol. That truly got me thinking!

I went through my first five-ish phones in the pre-smartphone era, and I think back then they were one way more in which you could express yourself, that's why they were all so different. Even if they were recctangular, bulky and with the normal button arrangements, you still had choices. I remembered once I went to buy a phone like that and I got to choose the screen color -either green or orange! It felt like such an important choice at the time, and I remember my friend group joking about the green vs orange screen debate.
Some phones I distinctly remember: this Hello Kitty phone that my cousin owned, expensive as heck when it came out but also really really different from ANYTHING phone companies would try to put out now. I feel like lot of us must have clear memories of what kind of people owned pink Motorola Razr on fifth grade, lol. And my personal baby and the phone that I would still use to this day if I didn't need whatsapp tbh: Sony Ericsson w200, which isn't that different in shape from the phones at that time, but the color combination of white + orange is the best thing that's ever happened to me. Might turn it on and see what games I can run on it, just to fool around  :4u:
But also, and derailing the post a bit sorry, early smartphones had that energy too. My friend who owned this phone bought those "10000 SMS" cards so she could chat with half the town, and my cousin who had this phone made everyone draw her a note with the pen and kept them in a separate folder, like a yearbook. While those are things that you could technically do with any phone, there's no modern equivalent differencing phones between one another in terms of function. Yes, iphones generally have better cameras, but what distinguishes an iphone from one another? And Androids have more personalization widgets and stuff, but the best I can come up with in terms of hard differences is that Samsung's screens break more often and Motorola's batteries last longer. That's barely scraping the surface with what we were able to convey with old phones  :ohdear:
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« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2023 @991.55 »

These are the kinds of phones that I wish were still around. I don't need much else than something that can make/receive calls, make/receive SMS messages, play music, and let me set alarms. My first phone was one of these, a Rumor Reflex S:



IMO this was the peak of phone design, simple design, slide-out keyboard, removable battery, SD card slot, and compact. It's a shame that the market for phones like this has died out, and that since many were 2G or 3G none of them can work where I live. I'd much rather have one of these than current smartphones.

I saw a post on tumblr a while back that mocked modern smartphone design saying they're all inbred so they look the same, and the genetic diversity present in old phones was more healthy for the species lol. That truly got me thinking!

That's a fairly accurate statement on the current state of smartphone design. They all follow the same pattern of being a thin but large slab of metal and glass, with the main difference being in how many cameras were crammed onto them. There's also the removal of features like the 3.5mm audio jack, SD card slots, removable batteries, and several other minor ones. The only thing I like about modern smartphones is there there's at least the option to replace the OS on them if it's supported.
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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2023 @841.02 »

Lately I've been binge-watching ancient video reviews for old phones from 15-20 years ago. There's heaps of videos like this on PhoneArena's YouTube channel and even if the video and audio quality of those videos are very low it's still fascinating to watch, it's like a time capsule. Some of these old phones have very unique designs and the ones that stand out to me especially are ones with touchscreens. Overall the most interesting old phones I've seen are the Nokia 5700 XpressMusic, HTC Touch, HTC TyTN II, and the Sony Ericsson P1.

Nokia 5700 XpressMusic
Look at the way the bottom swivels!


HTC Touch


HTC TyTN II


Sony Ericsson P1




The best for last - this is the Nokia N-Gage QD, the successor of the initial N-Gage! A phone meant to be used as a handheld console too. It has a slot to put games in that specifically released for it, and were similar in quality to the Gameboy games. This one actually still has a Tomb Raider cartridge in the slot, which is great.

I'm planning on buying one of these soon, when I can. There are several games for it I'm interesting in trying for myself, namely Super Monkey Ball, SonicN (a port of Sonic Advance for the GBA), Pandemonium, Rayman 3, and MotoGP. Looks like a fun little device even if the screen is very small. I'm a sucker for nostalgia.

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« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2023 @877.20 »



This stuck out to us because of its crystal-ish, geometric pattern design in all elements. It looks super fancy and unique for a flip phone!

Wowwww this phone is Beautiful. I don't even currently have a phone (battery started swelling a few months ago, we disposed of it properly and I just haven't gotten a replacement) and I don't generally like phones but I legitimately want to own this. What a gorgeous design....
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« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2023 @956.02 »

IMO this was the peak of phone design, simple design, slide-out keyboard, removable battery, SD card slot, and compact.
man, this reminds me of the phone I always wanted (and tbh still kind of do, if it weren't for my life requiring a smartphone so frequently :( )
My parents were pretty strict, so I wasn't at the age where I was allowed to get a phone until the post-dumbphone era, but every time I went to look at phones I really wanted this one:

i have always loved the horizontal typing aspect of phones, and I dread that I can't do it on my iPhone because the keyboard takes up half the screen!! :drat: having a separate screen and keyboard is an essential function for phones, imo.

*edit - post-dumbphone not -smartphone lol
« Last Edit: January 14, 2024 @899.70 by alexela64 » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2024 @878.14 »

I know! It reminds me of that post that grovyle also mentioned. Even modern dumbphones are pretty monotonous! You've got either your generic, cheap one, or one that's somewhat more interesting, but it's always expensive and/or by a small company with little to no tech support. And half of those are generic minimalist devices anyways. (Dumbphones are especially generic since Nokia only sells 3 dumbphones in the US compared to 15+ in Europe...) And the only diversity in smartphones is a folding screen or the three unnecessary cameras being arranged differently (which Apple always touts as an "all-new design" XD) and it's all just very same-y for the most part.

man, this reminds me of the phone I always wanted (and tbh still kind of do, if it weren't for my life requiring a smartphone so frequently :( )
My parents were pretty strict, so I wasn't at the age where I was allowed to get a phone until the post-smartphone era, but every time I went to look at phones I really wanted this one:

i have always loved the horizontal typing aspect of phones, and I dread that I can't do it on my iPhone because the keyboard takes up half the screen!! :drat: having a separate screen and keyboard is an essential function for phones, imo.

Actually, there is a phone like that on the market these days! Although it's $350 and I don't think the manufacturer even has its own Web-site—I could only find it through third-party stores. Here's the hyper-link if you're curious.
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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2024 @921.91 »

Yeah, I remember when it was somewhat interesting going into a mobile shop because of all of the new designs manufacturers came up with! Even if in the end they weren't functionally any better, but it was always exciting seeing what could have been the future!

Closest we have today is the Galaxy flip and fold series, which as the names imply, plysically fold and "flip" while still being fully touchscreen phones. I got a flip. It's gimmicky as hell, but I like it! It's the only modern remanent of weird and impractical designs!





The best for last - this is the Nokia N-Gage QD, the successor of the initial N-Gage! A phone meant to be used as a handheld console too. It has a slot to put games in that specifically released for it, and were similar in quality to the Gameboy games. This one actually still has a Tomb Raider cartridge in the slot, which is great.


I got one of those! Nokia mostly marketed it as a games console over a mobile phone, as they only sold it in games stores.
The biggest improvement over the original model was that in the original, I shit you not, you had to take the battery out to change games as the battery was place over the game card slot, which is the most boneheaded design choice I've ever heard! Speaking of design choices...
Trigger warning
The original design was inspired by the goatsee fad. (which if you know, you know... If you're going to look it up, I hope you got a strong stomach)

The designer did this from frustration after Nokia rejected every other idea they had, and they did this as a way to troll with them, but it turns out nobody in Nokia, or the general public for that matter, even noticed! Once you know, though, you can't unsee...
[close]

Let's also not forget the side talking. Which is so infamous that there is a website dedicated to it!

I think the system is underated, though! It's port of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 is actually really good! It added some levels from the 2nd game to play in freeskate mode! System Rush is also a decent racing game tailor made for the N-gage's narrow screen.
Also worth nothing that the N-Gage port of Pandemonium is the only version that will let you save your game progress. (The PS1 and Saturn original used passwords and PC, afaik, had nothing!)


* MVC-474F.JPG (390.11 kB, 1200x1600 - viewed 82 times.)
« Last Edit: January 14, 2024 @969.22 by Cobra! » Logged




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« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2024 @83.46 »

@Cobra! Excuse me, you're not supposed to have access to the Admin tab!!  :tongue:  What happens if you click on it??
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« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2024 @138.34 »

@Cobra! Excuse me, you're not supposed to have access to the Admin tab!!  :tongue:  What happens if you click on it??

Well, I just ousted myself as a mod, whoops!

I just get a password screen. I obviously don’t know the password and it isn’t my business, so I just forget it’s there.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2024 @150.76 by Cobra! » Logged




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« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2024 @586.78 »

I got one of those!

I'm soooo jealous you have an N-Gage! I'm currently trying to save up money so I can buy one, and I'm aiming to have one with a couple of games for it sometime by the middle of the year. I have so many questions. What games do you have for it? When did you get your Nokia N-Gage? Do you prefer the original model or the QD? I know the original requires you to take the battery out in order to swap game cartridges which is a real bummer but would you say there is anything else about the original model that's better/worse than the QD?

Spoiler
The original design was inspired by the goatsee fad.

Wow, Today I Learned. That's wild (and weird). I haven't heard that name in years and it's been even longer since I saw it, but I can never unsee it.
[close]
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« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2024 @665.61 »

I'm soooo jealous you have an N-Gage! I'm currently trying to save up money so I can buy one, and I'm aiming to have one with a couple of games for it sometime by the middle of the year. I have so many questions. What games do you have for it? When did you get your Nokia N-Gage? Do you prefer the original model or the QD? I know the original requires you to take the battery out in order to swap game cartridges which is a real bummer but would you say there is anything else about the original model that's better/worse than the QD?

I got Tony Hawk's, System Rush & Pandemonium (Obviously), but also SSX out of Bounds, WWE Aftershock, Tomb Raider, Asphalt Urban GT and Sonic N. I got my model over 10 years ago, and have never played the original (but from the sounds of the thing with the battery, I think it's better that way).
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