The end of an era came on April 25, 2014 when Microsoft completed its acquisition of Nokia's handset division. Though our Finnish friends haven't lost their touch in building high-quality smartphones like the Lumia Icon (pictured above), the company has spent the last few years trailing behind its rivals in developed markets.
Yet, as any mobile phone geek can tell you, there was a time when Nokia was the cell phone
company that mattered. Starting in the 1990s and until the advent of the iPhone and Android, it produced many of the planet's most successful phones. Join me
to relive some of Nokia's biggest hits and craziest leaps of faith. Note that when appropriate,
I've included a link to the original CNET review.
Editors' note: This slideshow was first published in September 2010 and was last updated on April 25, 2014.
Almost everyone seemed to have the 5110 as the millennium approached.
Indeed, it was the very first cell phone that I ever owned. Sturdy and
almost indestructible, you could swap the candy bar phone's outer cover
for new ones of various colors. The Nokia 232 was a somewhat early
version of this phone; it was released in 1994.
The distinctively styled 8110 was more than just the first of Nokia's
"Premium" 8000 series: it was the first Nokia phone to have a slider
design. The phone was also called the "banana phone" (it had a curved
shape when the slider was open) and the "'Matrix' phone" (it appeared in
the film). It lacked a speakerphone, and the phone book accommodated
only 125 entries.
The 8110 was succeeded by the 7110, which had a spring-loaded slider and a thumb wheel for navigation. What's more, it was the first Nokia phone to have a WAP browser. Six years later, the design would appear again in the stainless steel Nokia 8800.
The 8210 was one of the smallest and lightest phones of its time, and it
was another model that almost everyone had. It had an infrared port --
sort of a Bluetooth precursor -- and it starred in many television shows
and movies including "Absolutely Fabulous" (Patsy mistook it for a
small shoe) and "Charlie's Angels."
Long and thin, Nokia marketed the 6310 as a business phone. It offered
an amazing new feature called Bluetooth -- it was the first Nokia to do
so -- and it had an infrared port, Java games, a voice memo recorder,
and support for GPRS networks. Though it had a green monochrome screen,
color displays weren't far behind. The 6310i, which came the next year,
added Java, triband reception, and a blue monochrome screen.
bottom line: The 6310i's design is ho-hum, but it's an affordable
workhorse mobile with a strong feature set and impressive battery life.
The 3530 was one of the first Nokia phones to feature a wacky keypad.
Indeed, it would not be the last, as the similarly designed 2300 came
just a year later. The phone's featured included a WAP browser, Java
support, and polyphonic ringtones. The 3595 was a successor model.
Another movie star -- it got its turn in "Minority Report" -- the 7650
was the first Nokia phone to feature an integrated camera. It also was
known for its slider design, the Symbian operating system, a color
display, and a navigation joystick.
Simple to the core, the 1100 was designed for customers in emerging
markets who needed only the most basic features. Later, it also landed
at prepaid carriers in developed markets. It remains one of the world's
The 3200 was a unique phone on a few counts. You could take apart the
handset's shell and replace the paper faceplate with a selection of
designs that came in the box, or you could draw your own. Also, instead
of nine individual buttons, six oval keys set in uneven rows had two
characters each. Its features included a flashlight, a CIF camera
(remember those?), an FM radio, an infrared port, and support for EDGE
Nokia later released a CDMA version of the phone called the 3205, and T-Mobile got a revamped version, the 3220.
CNET review bottom line: Though it comes with some nice features, the Nokia 3200's dare-to-be-different design will not appeal to everyone.
A groundbreaking handset in many ways, the 3650 was one of the first
phones in North America to have an integrated camera. It also had a
display that supported 4,096 colors, Bluetooth, a speakerphone, voice
dialing, and an external slot for MultiMediaCards. Yet, not everyone
loved the phone's hefty size, and the circular keypad required a lengthy
adjustment period. Nokia later kept the features and the basic shape,
but opted for a more traditional keyboard on the
CNET review bottom line: The 3650 is a cutting-edge mobile that sports all the must-have features for a less than astronomical price.
It was fitting that the 5100 was part of the company's "Active" 5000
series. Encased in a durable rubber shell that protected it from
moisture, shocks, and dust, it gave Motorola's Nextel phones a run for
their money. Seriously, you could throw it against the wall and it would
keep on ticking. The offbeat feature set included a thermometer, a
flashlight, a calorie counter, and an FM radio. And if you didn't like
the blue shell, you could change it for one in orange, green, or dark
Similar models included the 5210 (also with rubber casing and a changeable shell) and the 5140.
bottom line: The sports model of cell phones, the rugged Nokia 5100 is
packed with nifty features but offers middling performance.
A powerhouse of its time, the 6600 smartphone was the company's most
advanced model at the time. Sure it resembled a brick, but the 6600 had
Bluetooth, the Symbian operating system, an infrared port, a VGA camera,
a MultiMediaCard expansion slot, an integrated RealOne player, e-mail,
and an XHTML browser.
The nearly identical 6620 was adapted for North American cellular
networks, and the 6630 upgraded the feature set in a design with a
rounded bottom end. In the riveting 2004 movie "Cellular," Kim
Basinger's rescuer spoke to her on a 6600.
bottom line: The Nokia 6600 isn't the sexiest or the smallest cell
phone we've seen, but it packs plenty of high-end features that will
please smartphone addicts.
Who other than Nokia could make this phone? Part of Nokia's "Fashion"
7000 series, the teardrop-shaped 7600 had a 65,000-color display with
keys arranged on either side. It also offered interchangeable covers, a
VGA camera, an MP3 player, Bluetooth, an infrared port, and USB support.
The Nokia 7610 that came later opted for a more conventional keypad design while keeping the teardrop shape. Then in 2009, the 7705 Twist coupled a square shape with a swivel design.
An early pass at combining an MP3 player with a phone, the Nokia 3300 got a few things right, including great sound quality, an FM tuner, support for voice
commands, and an external memory. But if the split keyboard didn't put you off, the weird way you held the 3300 to make a call (with its spine resting against your face) would.
CNET review bottom line: If
you want to carry around fewer gadgets, the music mobile might be for
you, but serious cell phone users should look elsewhere.
The follow-up to the bulkier 6800 from 2003, the 6820 featured a novel flip-out keyboard for messaging. It was very
cool at the time, and I loved how the display switched orientation when
you opened the keyboard. Though not a true flip phone, the company
began producing clamshells like the 2650 and 6103 about the same time.
CNET review bottom line: The full-featured Nokia 6820 is a solid phone and is sure to please text-messaging fans.
Yes, this was a phone. Also called the "lipstick phone," the 7280 pulled apart in the middle to answer calls. It lacked a keyboard of any kind, which forced you to interact with the handset solely through a scroll wheel, a menu/OK button, and two soft keys. Though dialing phone numbers on it was a pain, texting was surprisingly easy to do even without numbered keys. Inside there was a VGA camera, an FM radio, and Bluetooth. It even had a WAP browser, though it was frustrating to use on the tiny display. I only saw one person using it in the wild
In 2005, Nokia released a second version with the gold and shiny 7380. Other notable handsets in the "fashion" series included the 7370 swivel phone and the 7390 flip handset.
CNET review bottom line: While its design is purely a matter of taste, the 7280 is a feature-packed cell phone that performed well in our tests.
A classic Nokia candy bar, the 6230 was a workhorse. Features included
an external memory card slot, Bluetooth, an FM radio, a digital music
player, a VGA camera, and USB support. The next year, the 6230i kept the
no-nonsense design, but was one of the first Nokias with a megapixel
bottom line: Nokia spared no expense with the 6230's laundry list of
features, but it dropped the ball with its dull design and shoddy
Made for music, the 3250 had a unique twisting design that enabled you
to rotate between a numeric keypad and dedicated music controls. And it
came in pink! It could store up to 2GB of music with a memory card; by
rotating the camera lens, you could take photos with ease.
bottom line: The Nokia 3250 has some very strong features, but we found
its most significant design element -- the twist mechanism -- to be
more irritating than intuitive. We accept that you may love the system,
though, so the watchword for this handset is try before you buy.
One of many Nokia N Series phones, the N95 was bulky, but it had a generous load of features including a
5-megapixel camera that could also record VGA-quality video, a robust
media player with a 3.5mm headphone jack, a dual-slider design, and
integrated GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Nokia corrected some mistakes on
the upgraded model, but neither device ever landed at a U.S. carrier. We also liked the bulky N93.
bottom line: With a 5-megapixel camera, advanced multimedia
capabilities, and GPS, there's no doubt that the Nokia N95 is one of the
most feature-packed smartphones to date, but poor battery life and
sluggish performance make it hard to justify the high price tag.