The strangest Nokia phones ever designed: gallery

The strangest Nokia phones ever designed: gallery

Summary: Nowadays, you have the choice of only one prominent phone design: the 'patented' slate-like touch-screen smartphone. But ten years ago, Nokia mobile devices were diverse, innovative and in some cases downright strange in order to meet consumer demand.


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  • Nokia 7600

    First announced in 2003, the Nokia 7600 was a daring teardrop design. At the time its capabilities were modest. It had a 128 x 160 pixel screen with 65,000 colors, but only ran on the 2G GPRS network.

    But holding the device in one hand was almost impossible. Square in size, it was about the size and thickness of a packet of cigarettes. One had to carefully hold the device with the edges of both fingers, but the menu-scrolling pad at the bottom of the device was awkwardly placed, making it difficult to navigate with one hand. And calling people meant holding the device at a 45-degree angle, and made anyone using the phone look silly, frankly.

  • Nokia 6800

    A unique device for its time, the Nokia 6800, released in 2003, brought the QWERTY physical keyboard to a whole new level by bridging the gap between the dial keypad phones at the turn of the millennium and the BlackBerry-like devices we have today.

    The phone was relatively thin for the time and about the same size as a standard phone during the early 2000's, but the phone hinged in the middle and flipped out to a 90-degree fully-fledged keyboard. The screen would also rotate 90-degrees to accommodate for the prolific texter or emailer. Besides that, it was a fairly unremarkable phone in terms of features. 

Topics: Nokia, Apps, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Open Source, Operating Systems, Smartphones

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  • Would still be nice to see some unique designs.

    "Nowadays, you have the choice of only one prominent phone design: the 'patented' slate-like touch-screen smartphone."

    Would still be nice to see a few more form factors. It's pretty disappointing that only one form factor is really working out right now.
    • Maybe it's not a bad thing

      All of these varied designs by Nokia were either in an attempt to improve the usability of the device or to make it prettier (often at the expense of usability). The fact is that a slate with a touch interface is far superior (especially when you factor in input-assistance tools such as autocorrect and multitouch screens).

      With the form-factor worked out, designers can then focus on improving the hardware within the device, as well as the size and weight, without compromising on usability. Plus, having a uniform method of interaction across devices makes the technology much more approachable to a large audience. Even people like my mum (who hadn't changed her phone for almost 9 years) have been swayed by touch screen panels!

      I'm impressed at Nokia's ingenuity with some of these designs. Some of them are just gorgeous. We're already seeing the ways they are innovating now - the Lumia 920 is going to be a big winner.
  • Some still prefer buttons

    Many seniors lacking keen eyesight & nimble fingers reject the touch screen format in favour of keys.
    My older house-mate's new Samsung was promptly returned & exchanged for a Nokia C2.
    • Nope

      Older people or people with disability should only buy Doro phones. Doro manufacturers senior phones what are designed especially for seniors.

      All Nokia phones are just terrible for older people.
  • What about the N900?!

    The chunky lovelyness of the Linux (Maemo 5) N900 is certainly a big miss from this list, a delightful blend of slidy out keyboard and touch screen smart phone without the locked in OS of IOS or Windows.
    Paul Dengel
  • And in the end

    The "Star Trek" design was the right one. :-)
  • An incredible company - I hope they can stage a comeback

    Nice article - brought back some fond memories of some of the creative bits of tech I absolutely needed to carry around 5 to 10 years ago. Remember the Nokia models with interchangeable covers? My wife had a gold bling cover that dazzled! Alas that all changed for me with the advent of the first HP smartphone (6315), then many HTC smartphones. Can't wait to take a look at a Lumia 920 soon. Hope they're as good as Nokia should be able to make them.
    • Nope

      Nokia phones has come in last decade from same Chinese, Vietnam or other countries similar low-budget factories than rest of them. Nokia had only few models what came from Germany or Finland. And mostly they were just assembled there by just sliding motherboard in, display clued to body and shipped to get it EU stamp.

      And Nokia technical designs are not so great. If you just could know what I know from Nokia factories and company top level people talks....
      • Maybe not so great *now*, but...

        ...Nokia was the thing between 2000 and 2005 in terms of design, innovation and reliability. The 8210/8260, for example (circa 2000), was a classic, extremely diminutive yet functional for what was available at the time, and one of the first phones not to have a protruding antenna. It was in the mid-range between the most basic phones and the exotic designs that Nokia shone. It also had by far the best battery technology - you charged it and forgot about it for over a week, nobody else came even close.

        Then Nokia started to get dull and expensive. Competitors got more innovative and cheaper, even before the smartphone era. Nokia lost its flair and its appeal. Still, in the basic phone category (which includes most users here where I live), many people are still loyal to Nokia and its reliability. In the US, more aggressive marketing by other manufacturers with the cellular operators, which are the main distribution channel, is also responsible for Nokia's loss of market share, but here many people have always preferred prepaid, non-subsidized phones and this was not so much of an issue.

        I really miss Nokia's old-day boldness. It had a phone for every user and need, always with some touch of daring creativity.
  • Anyone remembers that Nokia 8910i

    Was featured in "Matrix"?

    Good ol' times :)
    Tomas M.
  • Spinny fones

    I recall that the CSI folks were using a phone similar to the Nokia that would spin out the top part, revealing the keyboard. That show seemed to swap out phones on a regular basis. Nice product placement.

    There was a time when the race in cell phone design was to come up with the smallest phone possible. It's funny how we've gone the other direction now with phones that can challenge the capacity of your pocket! Some, like the Galaxy Note, practically require a person to carry a purse!
    • Tiny phones indeed

      ...remember the phones in Zoolander?
    • Nope

      A 9822 like models were possible because you only had 160x80 resolution in green/black display. But even then those small models were very terrible because you couldn't actually hold them, they got lost without noticing it, you did have terrible battery lifetime and usability just was so terrible that you only bought one for status object.

      Now the race is with who makes thinnest and biggest display phone. Really, a difference of 1mm?

      Heck, a Galaxy S II with 3500mAh battery what brings extra thikness about 1cm is just good size.

      I hope to see same bigger battery for all Samsung phones. Even a Lumia 920 would need a 4500mAh battery but it already is so damn heavy and big phone.

      I just bought a phone what has 7" display and 4000mAh battery for 250. It is 1cm thick and has much better standby and talktimes than any other smartphone does. It fits perfectly to tight jeans, to suit jacket pockets, even in sailing suit. Only place where I can not place it is swimsuit or jogging suit (doesn't have pockets) but you don't want to have anything over 50g on them, only iPod Shuffle is good enough for them. Other way is to get armband where to place phone and it just feels silly. Sometimes in our lifetime people will understand that to be able communicate trough wireless devices all the time isn't wise and needed at all. It is OK to be many times a day unavailable.
  • Nice Article

    This was a nicely put-together piece, and a timely reminder that innovation has many paths.
    Spatha Spatula
  • "in order to meet consumer demand"

    That's ludicrous. They were created to meet what the engineers and designers thought would be user demand, and they were soundly rejected in the marketplace. That ubiquitous round-cornered slab was revolutionary in its time and it dominated the market because finally someone took the time to figure out what consumers would really like. Apple only looks like they patented the obvious in hindsight--as this slideshow CLEARLY shows.
    • Exactly. I had the Nokia 6800 and it was simply horrid.

      From poor reception to poor voice quality to simply poor construction. It was just bad. Of all the cell phone I have had, the StarTak and the iPhones are the only decently designed phones I have owned. The rest felt like spaghetti designs thrown on the wall hoping for something to stick.
  • Nice work

    Nice work! Love all these fantastic designs by Nokia
  • The 7280...

    I remember seeing this phone in the shops once. I looked at it and wondered "Where the heck was the rest of the phone? How do you use it?"

    But my dad did have the 5210 back in the day (this is when he was in security, and a lot of his work was in train yards and other outdoor areas).
  • 3650!!

    I had that one, with the quirky round display. Had to relearn T9 texting after losing it. :( It was cheap and remarkably capable as a smartphone (Symbian and all)
    Han CNX
  • Ah, the 6800

    I still have my old 6800 tossed in a drawer somewhere. It was great because I could send work email on it, back in 2003.