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 3200

    Sporting a similar candy-bar slim design to the Nokia 7210, the Nokia 3200 included a strange keypad design to anything that had been seen up to this point. While the keypad layout was standard in that the numbers are laid out in a square sequence, the buttons were joined up giving a droplet-like effect. The interchangeable covers also allowed for extreme customizability, giving each and every device a unique and individual theme. 

    The Nokia 3200, released towards the end of 2003, was one of the first international Nokia phones, designed to work in the U.S., Africa, and most of Europe, including the U.K., which was still a strong market for the Finnish phone maker.

  • Nokia 5700

    Released in 2007, the 'XpressMusic' branded phone came with in-built music and video playback, despite the small screen, but housed a powerful loudspeaker. It was also one of the first Nokia phones that came with a joystick-like menu control -- a 'feature' that wore out after only a few months of using it.

    But for no apparent reason, it seems, this candy-bar design phone had a spinning lower half. The camera was embedded in the bottom-right hand side of the phone facing to the right. Holding the device in your right hand and you would forever be taking photos of your wrist. But holding the phone horizontally and spinning the lower half of the phone would 'enable' the point-and-shoot mode. It would've simply made more sense to include a camera at the back of the device, but the back-facing camera technology was still a work in progress -- so we can't criticize Nokia for that.

  • Nokia 7900 Prism

    One of the first Nokia devices with the breakthrough 'prism' design, the Nokia 7900 Prism led to a range of devices following the same triangular pattern. The device range was not a major hit among consumers but they were innovative and inventive in their aesthetics ideals. 

    Released just before Christmas 2007, the striking feature was the device's keypad design, which also allowed users to change the keypad's backlight color. It included 2.5G EDGE speeds for faster WAP browsing, and the color screen boasted a 200 pixel-per-inch (ppi) density allowing for a sharper image. Strangely, the top of the device was completely flat -- quite an ugly 'ending' to the device -- that made marketing the product tricky. It does, in fact, look as though the top of the phone was sliced off through an over-zealous image cropping exercise.

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.
    CobraA1
    • 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.
      Fools_Muse
  • 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.
    grump3
    • 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.
      Fri13
  • 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. :-)
    NoAxToGrind
  • 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.
    mark@...
    • 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....
      Fri13
      • 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.
        goyta
  • 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!
    boomchuck1
    • Tiny phones indeed

      ...remember the phones in Zoolander?
      Geedavey
    • 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.
      Fri13
  • Nice Article

    This was a nicely put-together piece, and a timely reminder that innovation has many paths.
    Spatha@...
  • "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.
    Geedavey
    • 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.
      Bruizer
  • Nice work

    Nice work! Love all these fantastic designs by Nokia
    phoenixjyb
  • 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).
    dmh_paul
  • 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.
    jreuter