Mobile phones have come a long way since the humble Nokia 3310. They’re flatter, they’ve got HD screens, and you can do pretty much anything you could possibly want to do with them. In most ways, they’re infinitely better than the old bricks we used to stuff in our pockets – but you know what, there’s a few things we miss about the obsolete little gadgets.
…how indestructible they were
Once, back in the noughties, I witnessed someone hurl his mobile across four lanes of traffic, walk to the other side to retrieve it, then use it to call a taxi.
In contrast, I couldn’t drop my last mobile onto my bed from more than 30cm in the air because the back would pop off. They just don’t make ‘em like they used to.
…how long the battery lasted
Remember when your phone could go several days before it needed charging? Given that most of us now need to make a dash for the plug socket every evening, our old brick phones suddenly look at lot more appealing.
Candy Crush who? Flappy what? For those of us who owned a Nokia back in the day, nothing can beat the classic Snake games. Sure, you can download Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto to your phone these days, but there was something quite wonderful – not to mention addictive – about the four-buttoned charm of Snake.
…flipping and twisting and sliding
Mobile phones have kind of all settled on a single shape at this point: a flat and uninteresting slab form factor. But back when the tech was still young, we had all kinds of shapes to play around with – from flip phones, to twisty mobiles, to slideable ones like the LG Chocolate.
…getting to disconnect
It’s nice being able use your phone to get directions, look up train times, or read about Serbia’s raspberry export industry whenever and wherever you like, but every now and then it’s nice to just disconnect. And that can be difficult when the entire internet is in your pocket begging for attention.
In the 2G days, switching off for a bit was far easier. You were essentially separated from the internet, so it wasn’t there to distract you – and to disconnect from the world entirely, all you really had to do was step outside of a major city where there wasn’t any signal.
So our old phones were rather nice in a way – but then again there are some things about them that we’re glad to see the back of…
We don’t miss…
…every phone having a different charging port
Finding a spare charging cable used to be its own special kind of hell. The port was different on every single brand of phone, making buying a new cable or borrowing someone else’s charger far too complicated.
These days, it’s way, way easier to figure out – your phone will either have a USB or a lightning port. Boom, done.
…the measly storage space
My first phone could hold 16 text messages. Call records were limited to 10. When you look its specs up on GSMArena, under the memory section it just says “no”.
In a world where our phones can have up to 256GB of internal memory, and space for up to a 2TB microSD card… I don’t think any of us miss the teeny tiny storage space that mobiles used to have.
Today, we do more web browsing on our smartphones than we do on our computers – which is easy to do, given how smoothly websites work on mobile browsers. On early mobiles, however, it was a different story.
WAP browsers could access the internet over 2G – 2G! – which meant it took about two minutes and half your pay-as-you-go credit just to load a page. Looking something up online was slower and more expensive than a Southern Rail train.
I think we’re all very, very glad that phone speakers have got less tinny and horrific as time has gone on. And now our smartphones are more like little computers, we can copy across our favourite music files to use as ringtones – rather than spending £1.99 on a crummy MIDI file that sort of sounded like a song in the charts at the moment.
…trying to type with the numeric keyboard
Was there anything more frustrating than writing a text on a keyboard that only has nine keys? Even T9 – the software that worked out what word you wanted from just one press of each key – didn’t help a whole lot… though it was still probably more accurate than the iPhone’s autocorrect.