Prompted by events which I don’t really recall, my learned colleague and co-mastermind Paul sent me off on a retrospective journey thinking about the various mobile phones I’ve owned in my life, and I thought it might be interesting (in this case possibly exploring new extremes in the definition of “interesting”) to record the results here for your reading pleasure.  By which I mean MY reading pleasure, as I’m still not convinced there’s anyone else out there reading this.

I thought I was a little late to the party as far as mobiles go, believing I’d avoided that difficult early period where one had to lug a massive techno-brick around… however after peering at the honour roll it seems that this wasn’t the case.  Granted, I never experienced the joy that my Scouting colleague Steve Hastwell did by having one of those handbag-phones (the portable successor to the yuppie must-have carphone), but still looking at the dimensions of my first phone it’s clear that this was a tool with which you could easily conduct a sturdy bludgeoning.

You could tenderise a steak with the Nokia 2010, and see no noticeable performance decrease.

You could tenderise a steak with the Nokia 2010, and see no noticeable performance decrease.

So, in chronological order:

  1. Nokia 2010: bought this secondhand from Marty for $20 for equal parts wish to move with the in-crowd, ease of communication, and to irritate my parents.  Successful on 2 fronts.  Battery held about 4 hours’ charge, provided you didn’t use it for making phone calls.
  2. Nokia 3810: bought reconditioned online.  I used to have a minor obsession with the transparent aftermarket antennae that had LEDs in them which would light up by induction when your phone was active.  Due to brittleness, I snapped about 6 of these off.
  3. Nokia 6150: eBay.  First phone which I had that had a tune composer built in, which I used to torment my workmates with great effect by programming in Horst Jankowski’s “A Walk In The Black Forest“, and Roy & HG’s Olympic counter-anthem, “Go You Good Thing”.  For some reason I lent to my brother, and met its demise after it got chewed by a dog that was chasing him.
  4. Nokia 7110: bought reconditioned online.  Sort of a businessy big brother of the iconic Nokia used in The Matrix.  Had the best resolution screen of the Nokia range, room to store 1000 contacts, plus a scrolly wheel thing.  Number pad completely stopped responding apropos of nothing whilst I was in Perth, causing girlfriend rage when I wasn’t able to phone her.
  5. Nokia 3310: bought off a mate of mine in the phone business, then had to give it back when he came crying to my door admitting it was hot and he’d been busted.  First phone I ever had with snap-on customisable covers, which I totally abused by having a fuzzy zebra print one of.
  6. Nokia 8850 with limited edition gold finish: “Borrowed” from old boss in desperation due to not having any other phone available.    Lost it in a taxi in Frankfurt in 2004.  Nearly had a lead on getting it back when the German cab driver phoned my Dad (he’d obviously gone through the phonebook and “Dad” was the only English word he recognised), however through a combination of his think German accent, it being 3am in Australia, and Dad thinking it was the French guys who had stolen my brother’s mobile a few weeks earlier, it was never recovered.

    Classy gold finish, and tiny tiny buttons for my podgy fingers to mash inaccurately

    Classy gold finish, and tiny tiny buttons for my podgy fingers to mash inaccurately

  7. Panasonic X70: Borrowed from Richie temporarily.  He had 2 sent to him by his phone company upon contract extension, and then when they realised that he had 2 they threatened to call the cops on him if he didn’t return it, so I had to give it back.  My only clamshell phone to date.  Unique design feature in that when you close the phone it points the speaking microphone straight at the earpiece and thus ends every conversation with a piercing shriek of feedback.  It’s never been proven, but I believe this to be the feature which prompted Richie to select this model of phone in the first place.
  8. Nokia 6230: First ever on-plan new phone I ever got, and so far the only one that has survived a full term of use by me.  Also my first phone with a camera – something I’d studiously resisted but got to the point where I couldn’t avoid it.  Snap-on covers again: this time I went for the matt rubber finish, and then the transparent acrylic look (which indicates clearly just how much pocket crud & pubes accumulate in a phone).  My main reason for selecting this phone was because it supported email-on-handset, which I subsequently never used as it was too much of a pain in the arse to read and to write.  Sold on eBay when I got the Sony Ericsson.
  9. Sony Ericsson P800: First PDA-format phone, bought on eBay after getting enthused about running a Commodore 64 emulator on it.  Did this, with minimal success (i.e. never successfully played a game on it, although got software running).  Lent this phone to housemate James and haven’t seen it since.

    The nerdly lure was too great to resist...

    The nerdly lure was too great to resist...

  10. Sony Ericsson P910i: upgraded on-plan to this, for reasons which escape me as I never really used many of the features of the P800.  Internet browsing was a bit useless.  Screen backlight stopped working during snow trip to Kaprun so it became impossible to use indoors or after sunset.
  11. HTC Tytn: upgraded on-plan. Was my first PDA phone running Windows Mobile.  Will be my last phone running Windows Mobile.  Terminally useless.  Crashed, dropped calls, touchscreen would randomly stop responding.  In the later stages the metal trim peeled off and the torn end of it would lacerate my face every time I answered a call.  Bizarrely came equipped with a camera on bothe sides of the case, ostensibly for video-chatting with people – although I never used this feature as nobody else’s phone/network supports video chat, plus it’s too expensive, and anyway the software kept crashing.  Have lent it to The Puzzler after the demise of his phone.  I know that friends don’t lend friends Windows Mobile-based phones, however he was in a bit of a pickle, and I suspect he’s not going to try to trick it out with non-standard software like I did.
  12. Blackberry 8120: bought from eBay; am possibly the only Crackberry owner who’s got one for reasons other than their boss imposing one on them.  Excellent little phone, handy for internet browsing (if somewhat limited).  Quite robust, as well.  Would still happily be using it if my contract hadn’t expired and I hadn’t been swayed into joining the world’s fastest-growing telephone-based cult…

Number 13 is therefore the iPhone 3G 16gb: The Device That Changed My Life, and I’m totally obsessed with it – the massive range of software (even if not Jailbroken) makes it a multi-purposed highly useful device, and to be able to have decent internet surfing readily available, as well as a GPS-aware mapping application, and blogging, Twitter and Facebook clients…  This thing truly had me at “Hello”.  If I spent any time at home then presumably the ability to remote-control my iTunes might come in handy…  and it’s been pretty useful to have access to proper Ping & SSH tools without the need to lug about a laptop.

There’s no clear conclusion to all of this really.  Thinking back though it is stunning to see the increase in features that has become available, and with the competition afoot between the iPhone, the Nokia N-Series, and the up & coming Google Android based phones, I think we’re gonna see more mind-blowing progress.  Just this week I read about Adelaide scientist (and former uni colleague of mine) Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen and his achievements in the field of building a practical shoe-phone, Maxwell Smart style.  Seems an ironic area of endeavour for a man famous for never wearing any shoes.

Surprisingly (touch wood) I’ve not managed to drop any of these 13 phones in the bog yet – seemingly a typical means of dispatch for such devices, although I guess not one that Steve ever had to worry about.

Motorola phone and anti-theft system

Motorola phone and anti-theft system

OK, that’ll do for a punchline. Over & out.