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How Have Cell Phones Evolved Throughout History

How Have Cell Phones Evolved Throughout History

The chances are pretty good that your cell phone is within five meters of you right now. Maybe it's on your desk, plugged into the charger, or perhaps you're holding it right now to read this piece. We live in an era where cell phones serve multiple, valuable purposes beyond making phone calls.

We use our phones to access email, make notes for ourselves, play games, contact people with or without talking, and read through articles like this one. Looking back, it’s interesting to see how cell phones have evolved throughout history into the commonplace technological wonders we use today.

Earliest Days

A little over 30 years after the official invention of the telephone in 1876, a man named Nathan Stubblefield tried to patent the first wireless telephone in 1908. He received an official patent, but the idea of wireless mobile phone technology was out of reach at the time.

In the 1920s, a form of mobile phone service was available to first-class passengers on Deutsche Reichsbahn, a German locomotive. Many of these early attempts at mobile phone calls were more like radio broadcasts than actual phone calls.

Most attempts at mobile phone technology were impressive, but not mobile in the way we’d think. We had car phones that could make outgoing calls if the engine was running, which were mobile, but not the sort of thing we could carry around. In 1973, a general manager at Motorola made what many consider the first truly mobile phone call, and the technology grew from there.

In the 1980s

One of the most significant breakthroughs for mobile phone technology was in 1983 when Motorola released the first mobile phone for commercial purchase. The DynaTAC 8000x was the standard “brick” phone many people think of when we imagine the earlier cell phones.

The 8000x required pulling out and positioning the antenna to maintain a signal, and the entire device weighed over two pounds. The phone cost thousands of dollars and only lasted for about 30 minutes of talking time, making it an expensive, slightly impractical device. However, it was the start of something incredible.

In the late 80s, Motorola released another iconic early mobile phone, the MicroTAC 9800x. The 9800x served as the introduction of the flip phone model and was moderately more affordable than previous models.

In the 1990s

Motorola held a firm grip on the mobile phone market throughout most of the 80s, but before long other notable companies released their own models. Some of the most famous were IBM and Nokia. IBM's Simon model was the first cell phone with a touch screen, serving as a modern smartphone precursor. The Simon could keep track of notes and calendars and could even connect to early online networks.

The 90s was a great decade for phone technology as more phones featured screens, allowing for text messaging and simplistic games like everyone’s favorite, Snake. More characters in movies and TV shows started having phones, and the technology became more accessible to families instead of the 80s stereotype of important businesspeople using them for work.

While cell phones became more commonplace, new features excited audiences in sci-fi settings. One notable example was the Nokia 8110. The 8110 was one of the first cell phone models to feature a slide-down case to reveal the keypad rather than a flip model. The phone gained popularity in the 1999 sci-fi thriller blockbuster, The Matrix.

The 2000s – Birth of the Smartphone

In the 2000s, we saw some of the most significant leaps in how cell phones have evolved throughout history. Nokia continued to produce high-quality, durable phones with new features and ideas.

In 2002, Nokia attempted to combine cell phone technology with a handheld gaming device and launched the N-Gage. Nokia wanted to try and bring exciting gaming experiences to a device that many people already carried in their pockets. The N-Gage offered a lot more than Snake, with iconic titles like Call of Duty, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and Tomb Raider.

Other significant features of cell phones began to develop during this time. More phones started having colored screens, customizable ringtones, and including cameras to take and store low-resolution photos. People thought cell phones wouldn’t get any better than this. Until 2007…

In early 2007, Apple announced the first-ever iPhone, and we entered the realm of smartphones. These phones offered many existing features but included apps, mp3 players, video calls, and other valuable things we see as the norm these days, but they were new and exciting in 2007.

While the iPhone remained the strongest contender in the smartphone market, other companies like Samsung and Google created their own, and international brands like Huawei launched their own variations on the technology.

Since the birth of smartphones, cell phone technology has primarily focused on improving these devices with newer and bigger models. Smartphones have larger screens, better cameras, Bluetooth connectivity, more storage space, and more robust internal software allowing for more customization.

Modern Times

As smartphones continue to evolve, there's no telling how future devices will work. Many companies continue to experiment to try and find the next big innovation, like augmented reality or phones we access through our glasses.

While many smartphones’ tablet-like design was originally more advanced than older flip phone models, a current trend with smartphones is having a foldable screen, creating a stronger comparison with the older flip phone options. Does this mean that phone technology is cyclical, and we'll find new ways to advance older ideas, or will phone technology grow into something new and unexpected?

While we can’t be sure what innovations phones will adopt in the future, we can be sure that maintaining a strong, stable connection will allow us to utilize the features and services these phones provide in the best possible way. SureCall Boosters offers a wide variety of cell signal boosters to help you stay connected and avoid dropped calls at home, in the office, or on the road.

Please browse our catalog for available boosters and signal enhancers to learn more about SureCall’s different products and services. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, contact one of our experts at any time via email at

How Have Cell Phones Evolved Throughout History


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