My Mobile Phone History

My First Mobile Phone

Near the end of my senior year of college (1997), my dad gave me his old Honda Civic as a [pre] graduation gift. He had a car phone installed, but I had little interest in a phone that would only be useful in the car, so I went to the local AT&T store to see about getting a phone not tied to the car. I ended up with a Nokia phone (either the Nokia 6110 or the Nokia 6190, though it had a flip cover over the keypad that neither of those phones seem to have). It was a nice small phone that easily fit in my pocket, and I could kill time playing [Snake](


I resisted the Palm Pilot craze because I didn’t want to carry around my phone and a PDA. Finally, in 2001, the Kyocera 6035 was released and I could carry one device that could act as both a phone and a PDA. It had a large touchscreen and used a stylus. It even had an e-mail client and a basic web browser included that could passably display text-based websites.

When my two-year contract with Verizon for the Kyocera 6035 was up, I started looking at other smartphones on the market. I considered the Kyocera 7135, the next version of my phone, but decided that the Sony Ericsson P800 was much more interesting. It was not easy to buy a P800 in the US at this time (summer of 2003) since it was not sold by any carriers. I eventually was able to buy one over the phone from a reseller in New York City (after many attempts by them to raise the price, force me to purchase accessories and warranties, etc.).

The P800 seemed like a nice phone at the time. It had a more-capable web browser built-in, and later in 2003, Opera released a version of its mobile browser for the phone (though it was later abandoned – I think Sony Ericsson paid for an initial version, but not for later updates). It also had an e-mail client, a camera, and some fun games that could be downloaded/bought. One new feature to me was an MP3 player, but with a max of 128 MB of space, you couldn’t store very many songs on it. I stuck with my iPod for music. Like the Kyocera phone, it had a large touchscreen and used a stylus.

Over the next few years, I was enticed by the P900 and P910 versions of this phone, but was hesitant to spend so much money on another phone with similar capabilities to my current phone.

A Quick Aside on Keypads

Both the Kyocera 6035 and the Sony Ericsson P800 had hardware keypads that flipped open to reveal a touch screen that spanned the whole device. When the keypads were closed, roughly half the screen was visible and the phones modified the display to only use the visible area.

The keypad on the Kyocera 6035 had buttons inside of it and sent key presses to the OS, while the Sony Ericsson P800 had buttons that physically pressed on the touchscreen behind the keypad. The P800 caused me a lot of trouble with it not registering the correct keys on the keypad. After about 18 months, the keypad got to the point of being useless, so I removed it. This was my first experience with a fullscreen touch-only phone, and after getting used to it, I preferred this interface to the keypad.


When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone at Macworld in 2007, I knew about halfway through the presentation that I needed one of these phones. The wait from January until June seemed like a lot longer than 6 months. To make things worse, the eventual release date of June 28, 2007 fell right in the middle of my two week vacation to England. I came back to the US on July 4, 2007 and was unable to get to the Apple Store because they closed early on account of the holiday. The next morning, I checked the Apple iPhone availability web site and saw that one of the two local Apple stores was one of only two in the country that had any iPhones left. I drove over and bought one of the last available iPhones in the country.

I loved the phone; it had many of the same features that the P800 had, but it implemented and integrated them well. Suddenly, the web browser on my phone was, in many ways, more advanced than the browser on my desktop. I started using text messages seriously for the first time thanks to the conversation view in Messages. Mobile access to Maps and Wikipedia allowed me to instantly get answers to almost any questions that came up. “Ask the iPhone” became one of my mom’s favorite sayings. This was also when I stopped using a separate iPod for listening to audio.

I kept the original iPhone for two years until the iPhone 3Gs was released. I resisted the lure of the iPhone 3G, instead contenting myself with the availability of apps from the App Store.

When the iPhone 3Gs was released, I picked one up on the first day and have been using it ever since. Again, I skipped the iPhone 4, but benefited from iOS 4 with features such as background tasks and folders.

At this point, I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the iPhone 5 and plan to upgrade on day one.