The Motorola Q was the venerable brand's attempt to bring the Razr styling to a Windows Mobile smartphone and it was the first Qwerty phone to sell over 1 million units. It was slim and pocketable, but the design didn't make Windows Mobile any easier to use.
Samsung's own early smartphone was a galaxy apart from what we expect from the South Korean giant today. The 3G-enabled phone was thinner than the Q, but it also lacked Wi-Fi. It would soon be outstripped by the iPhone's 0.46-inch profile and virtual QWERTY keyboard.
The Nokia N95 was a connectivity powerhouse from the biggest name in phones. With integrated Wi-Fi, 3G, GPS and Bluetooth, its features outstripped the iPhone. With a camera flash, two-way sliding screen and media controls, it was feature-rich, but it never caught on to mainstream success.
Boasting an impressive 260x240-pixel screen (compared to the iPhone's 320x480), the Pearl was BlackBerry's attempt to crack the consumer smartphone market. The keyboard was controversial since it wasn't a full QWERTY and there was no integrated Wi-Fi.
If you loved the BlackBerry Pearl's trackball, but were holding out for a full QWERTY keyboard (as if we ever had to make that choice), there was the BlackBerry 8800. It was thin, it had GPS and it was a natural email machine, but it still lacked Wi-Fi. And 3G? No way.
LG gets to boast that it brought the first phone with a capacitive touchscreen to consumers, but the 2007 Prada didn't walk too far down the runway in markets like the US. It was eye-catching, though, and it gave us a taste of things to come. As our review said at the time, "not only is the phone slim and beautiful, it's also a touch screen phone similar to the much-ballyhooed and yet-to-be-released Apple iPhone."
These Palm Treos beat the iPhone to market by a month, but the chunky smartphones couldn't deliver the performance of their competitors. Even the updated 755p didn't add Wi-Fi or a quality camera. Unlike most other Treos, they ran on Windows Mobile.
Maybe the most attractive Windows Mobile phone ever, the HTC Touch even rivaled the iPhone in looks when it went on sale. It was a compact phone, but the touchscreen was large and HTC interface skin made Windows Mobile easier to use. It had Wi-Fi and we got a taste of life without a virtual keyboard.
Yes, we had to include the Razr. The ubiquitous 2004 phone was still one of the most popular devices on the market when the first iPhone was released (like they did with the iPhone, people waited in line to buy one). The razor-thin (0.5 inches) Razr sold 130 million phones in four years, but its display, camera and connectivity were showing their age by 2007. Still, Moto did its best to ride the thin wave as long as it could with multiple Razr versions (including how many shades of pink?), and the similar Slvr, Krzr and Rizr phones.
This was the age of pushing cell phone design to the limit to try something new. Take the Samsung UpStage, an admirable attempt (at the time) to combine a phone and a music player. One side (pictured here) was all about entertainment, while the other side had a standard alphanumeric keyboard for making calls. It wasn't that easy to use and the battery wasn't user-replaceable (the horror!), but it delivered a ton of features.
At the time, Sony Ericsson (later just Sony) was punching all of its keys on music phones. Its line of Walkman handsets integrated their music features well, and the W580i was one of the best of the bunch. And that slider design! You don't see that anymore. But for all of their attributes, the Walkmans would soon be left behind by the iPhone.
Introduced in late 2006, the EnV was made for people who wanted a smartphone's features, but weren't ready for the full commitment. It looked like a regular phone from the front, but it opened like a book to reveal a full keyboard and a second screen for multimedia. But LG didn't stop there: Turn the EnV around and almost looked like a simple cameras. It was cool, but no match for the iPhone wave.