My phone collection: A look back on the past five years

A lot has changed in just the last five years of mobile technology. The world has shifted from using basic feature phones to powerful smartphones with dual or even quad-core processors. The iPhone came out in 2007 and whether you love or hate it, you have to admit it jump started the smartphone revolution. Android started gaining massive popularity with the Motorola Droid in 2009 and the platform soared, giving the iPhone the healthy competition it needed.

So now in 2012, I thought it’d be fun to take a look back on the mobile phones I’ve owned over the course of five years. There aren’t as many as you’d expect, but there’s a clear evolution present.

Samsung SGH-C417

Shitty phones have shitty names I guess. I got this cell phone for Christmas in 2006 — that’s six years ago, but I used it within the five-year time span. It has the Cingular branding on it from right before AT&T took over. It was a classic dark gray/black flip phone with ordinary features. The camera on the back was capable of taking VGA 640×320 resolution shots and it didn’t have video. Some of its highlighted features were a built-in instant messaging client and having a camera at all. It served me well for a little less than a year and a half, especially because I really only used it to make phone calls and occasionally send some text messages. One thing I will say for it was that for its time, the C417 was a pretty thin phone. When closed, it’s about as thin as an iPhone 3G/3GS. Some flip phones on the market today are thicker than that.

Fun fact: This is currently my father’s phone. He’s the type of person that wants nothing to do with technology so as you could imagine, it’s perfect for him. I gave it to him once I was through with it in the beginning of 2008 and he’s been using it ever since to make phone calls and nothing more. He’s not ashamed to walk around carrying a phone that still says Cingular on it, either.

Samsung SGH-A737

My next phone in 2008, yes, is still a regular cell phone. It was the Samsung A737, which came in blue, red, lime green, and orange. I got the blue one. The A737 was a pretty big upgrade from the C417 though. It had a music player, cellular video capabilities, a higher resolution display, and VGA video recording. Plus it followed the trend that was going on in 2007 and 2008 to have a numeric keypad that slid out from the bottom.

Out of all the mobile phones I’ve ever owned, used, or tested, the A737 is my favorite non-smartphone. I don’t know why I had such an emotional connection to this thing, but it just worked perfectly. The battery lasted for days, the build quality for a plastic phone was incredibly solid, I never had any software malfunctions… it just worked. I was only able to call it mine for about six months, but I still get nostalgic just writing about it.

Fun fact: I still have this phone buried in a draw. I played around with it today and it still works and looks good as new. It’s also the phone my father will probably get next even though it’s years old.

Apple iPhone 3G

Hooray, we’ve arrived at the interesting devices. The iPhone 3G was my first iPhone, first smartphone, and first even half-way decent handset. iOS (then-called iPhone OS) 2.0 was very premature, however the App Store had just come out and that alone pretty much put any other phone I’d ever used to rest. I skipped right past the phase of having those phones with a physical QWERTY keyboard and went straight for the device with the biggest brains on the market at the time.

Once I started using the iPhone, I knew I could never settle for anything less than a smartphone again and as of today, I’ve stayed true to my word. As incredible and game-changing as the iPhone was, it wasn’t without its own limitations. I couldn’t send picture messages, copy and paste, set home screen wallpapers, or record video, which my A737 was able to do. These features and plenty more were eventually added, but Apple chose to focus on the revolutionary features that made the iPhone so groundbreaking first before slowly packing it in later on.

Fun fact: That phase I mentioned about having a regular feature phone with a QWERTY keyboard happens to be what my mother is going through now. She’s a bit behind on technology too as you can see, but she did just start text messaging last month and now has the Pantech Ease.

Apple iPhone 4

Here we are at the last stop: the iPhone 4. Released in 2010, it is my current phone of over two years now. The iPhone 4 was the biggest upgrade Apple ever gave the iPhone from a previous generation model. It added the retina display, A4 processor, gyroscope, 5MP camera with LED flash, 720p video recording, a front-facing camera, the new design plus more. It’s treated me very well and won’t be leaving my pockets for another few months until the sixth-generation iPhone this fall.

Fun fact: As much as people complained about the antenna issues and all-glass design in the beginning, I never had issues with either. Holding my finger over the antenna did make service drop a bit according to the on-screen indicator, but it never affected call quality or reception in use. Plus, the iPhone 4 I have now is the same iPhone 4 I bought in 2010; I’ve had no issues with durability.

I know some people probably have went through dozens of phones over the past five years, but I surprisingly keep my handsets for a while. Sure when a new phone comes out I debate paying to get out of my contract so I can upgrade early, but I wait a month or two for the hype to pass and then I’m fine.

Share your favorite phones over the past five years (or longer) in the comments below.

  • Jonathan

    Two smart phones?! For someone who writes for a tech website?! Are you freaking kidding me?!

  • Anonymous

    I just bought a Iphone 3g off one of my coworkers a few months ago. It is a great phone. I going to give it to my dad. It is jailbroken and is unlocked. 

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