Looking back: To all the phones I loved before

Miku Hatsune using her phone...

I had a pretty active gadget life. I love gadgets and one of the type of gadgets I tend to like buying is the humble mobile phone. My history with mobile phones goes way back to my high school days. It’s been a while since I last wrote so I decided to write a very long article to celebrate my coming back to blogging. With no further ado, let me introduce you to the very first phone I ever owned!

Ericsson A2628

The Ericsson A2628 in yellow.

The Ericsson A2628 in yellow. I had it in blue. As you can see here, the cover was replaceable which was quite a fad back then.

I won the Ericsson A2628 through a raffle after being invited as a student guest in an IEEE symposium. I do not recall the exact year but my guess is that it was around 2001. There was actually an interesting story behind winning it. When the host was introducing a wrapped package as the grand prize for the raffle, I jokingly boasted to my fellow invited high school students that the phone was already mine from the very start and they should just give up on it. What do you know, my number actually got called and I got my first phone. I opened the package and a blue Ericsson A2628 greeted me for the first time. Interesting enough, my classmate also claimed one of the bigger packages as his and he did get it too – it was a blender by the way. 🙂

Back then, getting a mobile SIM was a chore in Saudi Arabia which is where my parents were working and where I studied high school in an international Philippine school. Local prepaid packages were basically non-existent. I used a Swiss roaming SIM called Mint but that was later blocked locally.

Siemens M35i

The Siemens M35i in yellow.

This was one rugged phone!

A year after owning my Ericsson A2628, I gave it to my aunt. My parents gave me the waterproof, shockproof and dustproof Siemens M35i instead and I got it in a yellow package (same as the picture in the right). This phone was a tough one and I have witnessed its toughness myself.

My phone had seen tons of torture.  I accidentally dropped it from the stairs and other great heights, it swam in puddles, and has experienced things none of my current phones could have ever survived. My mom’s M35i got run over by our car – a Chevrolet Caprice Classic. It sustained internal injuries but from the outside it looked fine (other than the unmistakable mark of a car tire).

I don’t really remember what happened to my M35i. I think I gave it back to my parents who gave it to my aunt eventually but I’m not sure. Anyway, I’ve never had a phone more rugged than this guy.

I then graduated from high school and decided to work instead of go to college. This gave me the finances to replace my phone with a new one from my own wallet. During that time, STC, the only mobile provider then, was starting to roll out a prepaid SIM which meant that I didn’t need to rely on Mint any longer.

Nokia 5210

Nokia 5210

Another rugged phone but obviously not as rugged as my former Siemens M35i.

The first phone I ever bought with my own money was also my first Nokia phone – a Nokia 5210 – which I probably bought around late 2002. Coming from a rugged phone I decided to go for another rugged phone as I liked the fact that I didn’t have to worry much about my phone breaking. I don’t remember the exact color of the phone that I bought but I think it was blue… or was it red?

The 5210, did have its own share of physical abuse, but given that it had a removable cover, it was obviously less tolerant of the elements. One of the notable accidents that my 5210 experienced was when I placed it on my lap while riding a car on the way to work. I totally forgot about placing it there and when I went out of the car it fell straight down my leg, got caught in my moving foot, and got kicked quite a distance away. I was rather shocked seeing it roll around the dirt and rocks but it survived with nary a scratch.

Nokia 3650

Nokia 3650

The Nokia 3650 was a peculiar-looking device.

Sadly my Nokia 5210 got stolen after a year of use.  I decided to try doing something new and went for the second-hand devices that are being sold. My quick replacement was a Nokia 3650.

This device was an oddity. During this period, Nokia was “experimenting” on some bold new phone designs and the 3650 was one of those products. It’s keypad was a rather unusual circular layout which was tedious to learn and use. I did eventually learn how to use it well but it was still quite an oddball to me. The layout reminded me of those rotary dial phones of the yester-years although the 3650 was obviously used quite differently.

The 3650 was the first ever phone that I owned that sported a camera. The image quality was quite sad though and therefore its camera wasn’t really used often.

Nokia 6630

Nokia 6630

I owned a Nokia 6630 for a whopping 15 minutes!

It’s now 2004 and after a few months of saving up, I went out to buy a new phone – or more like a new used phone.

What I found was a still rather new Nokia 6630 that came complete with all its accessories. I went around to a few more shops and found a Nokia N-Gage (also second-hand for the same price). Being a gamer, I really wanted to get an N-Gage but I just got a phone so I was in a dilemma. Fortunately, my dad became interested on the 6630 and bought mine only around 15 minutes since it went into my hands. Money exchanged, I ran back to the store where I found the N-Gage and bought it immediately!

The Nokia 6630 gets the crown for being the phone that I owned for the shortest time possible! Nothing has ever beaten it yet! Hahaha!

My dad used this phone for a long time though until me and my mom bought him a Blackberry Curve.

Nokia N-Gage

Nokia N-Gage

The first phone I bought for gaming!

Ah, the humble N-Gage. The phone ridiculed for its rather unique way of use as a phone – sidetalking – where you hold the upper side of the device to your face. It had a cult following and spawned sites such as sidetalking.com. Personally, I never found it a hassle to use but it can be rather awkward to call with an N-Gage in public given the puzzled stares that ignorant strangers will give you.

The N-Gage was Nokia’s first attempt to get into the portable gaming market. Sadly, it wasn’t perfect. Players needed to turn it off and take it apart to change game cartridges which came in an MMC (MultiMediaCard) package which looked like a slimmer SD card. It was a chore to change games and booting up can sometimes take… well… forever. This eventually sparked piracy for convenience (which I admittedly did) by allowing games to be installed in a single, high capacity MMC and, piracy as we all know it, has a negative effect on developer support and was probably one of the reasons why the N-Gage had a rather lackluster library of games. As a mobile phone, using it wasn’t much of a problem. The keypad layout was unique but it didn’t cause me problems when texting given that I’m used to texting using only my right thumb. Calling, as mentioned in the earlier paragraph, was quite awkward though due to sidetalking. It lacked a camera though which most mid-range to high-end phones at that time already had. The lack of the camera was, at first, not much of a hindrance to me but, eventually, I started to feel envy towards my friends who could take photos with their phones and therefore, a year later, I got a new phone to complement my N-Gage.

Nokia N70

Nokia N70 in silver

My first camera-phone (that I actually got to use!) was the Nokia N70.

2005, a year after buying my N-Gage, My wish for a camera-phone was granted when I got the Nokia N70. Still using my N-Gage exclusively for games, I switched to my N70 as my main communication device and was rather thrilled about using the camera!

The N70 was a simple phone to use. It used the Symbian Series 60 operating system which I was familiar with already due to the N-Gage. Hardware-wise it was a good quality build that was able to withstand some abuse. Having a cover on the rear lens was a good addition too.

I never got to use the front camera of this device though as I never even used the video-calling feature because it was too expensive here but the rear camera took a lot of photos, much of which are lost now. The excitement of having a camera on a phone eventually died down and was later overshadowed by my love of gaming when Nokia announced the N-Gage QD.

I don’t remember if I bought a new N70 or a second-hand device. It  was most likely the latter though given my frugal nature. 😛

Nokia N-Gage QD

Nokia N-Gage QD

The Nokia N-Gage QD was a huge improvement to its predecessor.

Then came the N-Gage QD which I bought a few months after the N70. It was smaller than its predecessor; now has a hot-swappable MMC card slot; and forgone with the side-talking of the original. It made the owner of sidetalking.com quite sad.

When I had the chance to buy a QD, I immediately sold my old N-Gage away to a colleague at work (or was it one of my cousin’s… I’m not sure anymore). I also gave my N70 to my brother.

Much like it’s older sibling, the QD was a cinch to use but the smaller design cramped much of the buttons at the right making it hard to mash them. Buttons 5 and 7, still were embossed a bit though much like the original.

The QD now lacked FM radio but that didn’t bother me much given that there aren’t any FM stations here in Saudi Arabia that I’d bother listening to anyway. It also went dual-band compared to its tri-band predecessor. Still, not much effect on me because I don’t really go to other countries often.

Sony Ericsson K800i CyberShot

Sony Ericsson K800i

This phone had an awesome camera but, for a brand-new phone, it gave me a lot of headaches…

I thought phones in cameras were more or less something that I won’t really look into when buying a phone… I was wrong. In 2006, I ended up buying a Sony Ericsson K800i, which was probably the first phone to ever use a xenon flash. It was also my first Sony Ericsson device.

Sadly, the experience of using the phone was an annoyance. The phone was good but it had this severe bug that renders the phone completely unusable. I had to bring it to the Sony Ericsson service center which repaired/replaced (I don’t know what they actually did) my phone.

After the phone got back to me, it went well all the way and I never got the same hiccup again. The photos shot by the K800i’s camera were awesome to me. It also wowed my cousin who bought the same phone model many years later and he is still using it. Sadly, mine’s broken now years after I gave it to my brother. He got a lot of phone hand-me-downs from me. Haha!

Sony Ericsson M600i

Sony Ericsson M600i

The Sony Ericsson M600i was my first QWERTY device.

Not long after purchasing the K800i, I got a good deal for a second-hand M600i – a black one. I really wanted the white one but a used one wasn’t available. Fortunately, one of my cousins bought a used white M600i so I offered a swap. He conceded making the M600i the first phone I got in two colors without changing cases.

Other than being my first touchscreen device, the M600i was also the first phone I got with a QWERTY keyboard. I am a fast typist and find the numeric numpad of typical candybar phones were not really much to my liking so the M600i was a refreshing change. I loved its keyboard a lot.

My M600i attained a crack on the touchscreen though. I don’t know how it happened but it was my brother’s fault. Looking for a replacement screen was a chore but I eventually found one and did the repairs myself making the M600i the first phone I ever attempted and successfully repaired.

When I got the M600i, I was already using two SIMs – The Sawa SIM I’ve been using for a long time and a new Mobily SIM I use for mobile internet (my SAWA SIM was not 3G compatible) – so the M600i become more like a complementary phone I used alongside my K800i than my main phone until I gave my K800i to my brother.

I still have my M600i but it needs a new touchscreen again. I want to repair it but I couldn’t find the touchpanel anywhere locally anymore. Looks like I need to resort to Ebay.

Nokia 6120 Classic

Nokia 6120 Classic

The Nokia 6120 Classic was a good all-rounder.

The Sony Ericsson K800i was a great phone but I kinda missed Symbian Series 60 after using several S60 devices in succession before I bought the K800i CyberShot. Sometime in 2007, after giving my K800i to my brother and using the M600i as my main phone for a while, I went back to Nokia and got a 6120 Classic.

The 6120 Classic was a cheap all-rounder and for what it did, it did well. It had a lackluster camera though but it performed well and that’s what counted to me.

Its design was simple. It was small but not too small for my hands. The buttons were fairly easy to use. It also had a good battery standby time which was a big thumbs up for me.

Furthermore, it featured fast 3G connectivity. I’ve been using mobile internet more during those times and so I made my 6120 my main 3G modem and it worked swimmingly.

This phone was awesome in the simplest form and I loved it!

Sony Ericsson W960i Walkman

Sony Ericsson W960i Walkman

The Sony Ericsson W960i Walkman was my first media-centric phone.

My music collection was starting to grow and so my desire to get a music player increased. I once owned a Creative MuVo which was only had a patry 512MB so I was quite glad that my Sony Ericsson W960i had 8GB of internal memory. Back then 8GB was already huge and I still practiced audio compression. Now… 8GB is too small and I hate compressing media nowadays – I want them completely uncompressed!

I bought the W960i Walkman sometime in 2008. It was expensive and is still the most expensive phone I ever spent on.

The phone had sluggish performance but I enjoyed using it as a media player. It had a weak battery though which meant that I needed to be near a charger most of the time. A big bummer in my case.

Samsung Omnia i900

Samsung Omnia i900

The Samsung Omnia i900 was the first device I flashed with a cooked ROM.

A year later (2009), my cousin won a used Samsung Omnia i900 from a lottery draw. He wasn’t fond of Windows Mobile so I offered to buy it and he agreed.

The Omnia i900 was my first Samsung device, and being a popular device for ROM cooks, I was able to experience for the first time the fun of flashing a phone with a completely new operating system namely Windows Mobile 6.5 from the original TouchWiz WM6 ROM. I became so fond of doing it that I actually setup one of my old PCs with Windows XP just to use for flashing. Performance and features increased by a huge margin and I was able to enjoy my new device to the fullest.

I continued to enjoy using my Omnia until I became Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Ambassador on late 2010. I bought another Samsung phone for my roaming SIM before that happened though – the X820.

Samsung X820

Samsung X820

The Samsung X820 is the slimmest device I ever owned.

I just got a Philippine roaming SIM and I wanted to use it with a phone that wasn’t too big. I ended up going for a used Samsung X820 which I got for cheap.

It was a good phone. For something so slim, the keypad was quite usable. The battery was somewhat weak though probably because of age but unfortunately finding a replacement proved to be impossible.

My mom became quite fond of this phone so I just gave it to her eventually. I wasn’t able to use it for long.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

My Samsung Galaxy Tab

My Samsung Galaxy Tab for a pose shot that I took to promote it as an Ambassador.

Sometime in 2010 I entered a Facebook contest hosted by Samsung MENA (Middle East and North Africa. It was the Samsung Galaxy Tab Ambassador promotion and to be honest, I have actually forgotten that I did an entry for the contest so I was completely surprised when someone called me to say that I was one of the chosen guys to promote such a wonderful device.

Anyway, the Galaxy Tab is a tablet so  what is it doing in my list of phones? That’s simple, it’s also a phone and one that I used predominantly for more than a year. I was lucky enough to be a tall person and one who isn’t fond of skinny jeans so it fit well in my pocket. I ended up using a bag to take it around though for comfort’s sake.

I really love my Galaxy Tab and it has replaced my Omnia i900 as my “tinker” toy. It is the second device that I flashed with a custom ROM and is currently running Cyanogen Mod 9 Ice Cream Sandwich firmware. I still use the device and it now functions as my portable router so I could use the internet with any of my portable devices using nothing but a single service.

The Galaxy Tab is the device I used as my main phone at the longest time. Earlier this year, I have given that function to an HTC 7 Mozart.

HTC 7 Mozart

My HTC 7 Mozart

The photo of my current phone, an HTC 7 Mozart

I have been a great fan ever since Microsoft revealed Windows Phone 7 and I’ve always wanted to have one. Unfortunately, Windows Phone 7 has not been officially released here in Saudi Arabia. I was lucky enough to find two HTC Windows Phones: the HTC 7 Mozart and the HTC HD7. I went for the Mozart since it comes with a better screen and an aluminum unibody design which feels more premium and durable.

The Mozart’s UI is fast and snappy just like every Windows Phone 7 device in the wild right now. I really love the Metro UX design language. It’s simple but intuitive. The Live Tiles, when implemented properly provides glance-and-go information that makes it easy to know if there’s something new.

My Mozart is now updated to the latest Mango firmware which adds a plethora of new features missing from the original Windows Phone 7 build that it came from.

Microsoft has announced that they will be showing a sneak peek of the upcoming Windows Phone 8 Apollo in a few days. I’m very excited about it although I have doubts that the major update might not come to my phone.

Predicting the future!

I still don’t know what my next phone will be but I am quite inclined into getting a Windows Phone 8 device most likely from Nokia – hopefully one with PureView optics on board.

I have recently purchased a used iPad 2 Wifi 64GB but since that is no phone I excluded it from this list.

It has been grueling trying to remember all the phones I ever owned and when I owned them. Although I tried to make this article as accurately as possible, I am totally unsure if all the information stated (especially the dates) are correct. I’m sure I owned all the phones mentioned above though just not when I owned them and for how long.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this rather long recollection of phones that I have used through the years. I would love to know what you have used as well so if you have some time to spare please let me know through the comments.

Have an awesome day everyone!


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