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Old Phones on retro background

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Two decades ago, in the era preceding the widespread adoption of smartphones, technological advancements carried a distinctive allure. Features that are now deemed standard, such as high-resolution cameras, mobile applications, and the ease of sharing playlists and contacts, were not yet the norm. The mobile landscape in 2004 was marked by its innovations and stylistic approaches.

TheGeekyThings provides an in-depth exploration of this past period, carefully evaluating and listing the top mobile phones that characterized 2004. Our inspection considers a variety of criteria including the device's popularity, functionality, technological innovation for its time, and overall influence on the user.

For those with a keen interest in technology, particularly individuals who delve into the past to discover intriguing technological artifacts at auctions, or those simply interested in understanding the evolution of mobile devices, we invite you to explore with us the polyphonic era of mobile phones before iPhones. This journey is not just about nostalgia but an appreciation of style and advancement in the context of their time.

Samsung i700

Samsung i700 in hands

The Samsung i700 opens our nostalgia list. Powered by Windows Mobile, this mobile phone serves as a potent and expandable second-generation Pocket PC phone, qualifying it as an efficient PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). Released in 2004, the Samsung i700 showcases a sleek clamshell design complemented by a color touchscreen. Initially introduced in 2003 as a Pocket PC, featured a classic, design with dimensions of 132.0 mm in height, 70.0 mm in width, and 16.5 mm in thickness. It had a 65K color TFT display measuring 0.5 inches, providing a decent display quality. The phone was powered by an Intel PXA 250 chipset running at 400.0 MHz. In terms of memory, it had 32.0 MB of built-in memory and supported MMC memory cards. The Samsung i700 was a GSM device supporting frequencies of 900/1800/1900 MHz. To disadvantages Samsung i700 lacked Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules, so only a 2G connection was used for communication.

Moreover, the Samsung i700 boasted a swivel camera with 0.31 MPx and a resolution of 640x480 pixels, adding an extra wow factor with its ability to take selfie photos too. The phone was equipped with a Li-Ion 1100.0 mAh battery for power. In terms of connectivity, it supported GPRS, USB, and Infrared. The device ran on the Windows Mobile 2003 operating system, offering a range of features such as an MP3 player, smart messaging, and email client. 

In a nutshell, what set it apart is a built-in swivel camera, expandable storage, and multimedia messaging capabilities, all wrapped in a sleek candy bar design with a focus on multimedia features.

Sony Ericsson S700

Sony Ericsson S700

Credit: GSMArena

The Sony Ericsson S700, introduced in 2004, featured a unique swivel-opening mechanism. It had a TFT display with a 240x320 resolution could display 65,000 colors, and came with a 1.3-megapixel camera, improving mobile photography at the time. The device offered Bluetooth, Infrared, and USB connectivity, and was powered by a 208 MHz ARM9 processor and 64 MB of RAM. It ran on Symbian OS v8.0a with a UIQ 2.1 interface for a smooth user experience and included a memory card slot for extra storage. It was compatible with GSM/GPRS/EDGE networks. The S700 was powered by a Li-Ion 780 mAh battery. Its 2.3-inch display provided a clear viewing experience with approximately 174 ppi. The device has a balanced design, multimedia capability, and connectivity.

In 2004, the Symbian OS set the standard for complexity and capability in mobile applications, marking a significant advancement in mobile technology. The incorporation of joystick navigation alongside its distinctive curved design distinguished it visually in a crowded market. Furthermore, its 1.3-megapixel camera was notable for its time, representing a step forward in integrating high-quality photography into mobile devices.

Nokia 7710

Nokia PDA 7710

Credit: Cnet

The Nokia 7710 was a groundbreaking device, marking Nokia's first foray into touchscreen technology, which paved the way for the future of mobile communication. Launched in late 2004, it featured a 3.5" display and ran on a new version of the Symbian OS, specifically designed for internet browsing, video playback, and a seamless user experience. This Symbian smartphone was powered by a TI OMAP 1510 chipset and boasted a 1 MP primary camera along with a robust 1300 mAh battery, ensuring efficiency and longevity. It supported GSM 2G bands 900/1800/1900 and offered GPRS and EDGE Class 10 connectivity. The device weighed 189 g and had a user-friendly design with a TFT resistive touchscreen capable of displaying 65K colors. 

With 90 MB of internal storage and an additional MMC card slot, it catered to storage needs, whereas the Series 90 UI enhanced its operability. Despite lacking a front camera and certain connectivity features like WLAN and Bluetooth, it included a power-saving pen input mode, comprehensive browser support, a loudspeaker, vibration, and downloadable ringtones. The stereo audio/video player, document viewer, organizer, voice memo, and recorder were notable features, aimed at the tech-savvy market, albeit at a high price point.

However, the Nokia 7710 faced challenges such as a slow operating system, and stability issues which hindered its potential. Despite these drawbacks, it set a precedent for touchscreen technology in mobile phones, embodying the innovation and risks that drove technological advancements. Today you can find working phones on numerous auctions.

Siemens SX66

Siemens SX66 Cingular PDA

Credit: GSMArena

The Siemens SX66 is a smartphone that was released in 2004. Phone from Europe set the bar for smartphone technology, pushing the boundaries with its impressive specifications. This innovative device featured a 3.5-inch TFT resistive touchscreen display, an advanced Intel XScale PXA263 processor, and 128 MB of RAM for superior performance. Powered by the Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition for Pocket PC Phone Edition operating system, the phone was unmatched in its functionality. With GSM/GPRS/EDGE network compatibility, a potent Li-Po 1490 mAh battery, and a host of other features like a 1.3 MP camera, a built-in MP3 player, a WAP 2.0 browser, and support for various file, email, and document formats, the Siemens SX66 was truly a revolutionary device.

The Siemens SX66 did not just bring new features to the table, it also set some standards for design and form factor. Weighing in at 210 g and with dimensions of 4.92 x 2.80 x 0.71 inches, the device was a robust yet compact powerhouse. The phone provided ample storage with 128 MB of internal memory and support for memory cards up to 2GB. On top of its remarkable hardware specifications, the Siemens SX66 boasted an array of utilities including a calculator, calendar, alarm clock, stopwatch, countdown timer, unit converter, world clock, and voice recorder. In essence, the Siemens SX66 was not just a smartphone; it was a comprehensive device capable of meeting a wide range of user needs, but unfortunately its price was not conducive to mass production

Why was the Siemens SX66 a legend in 2004? The answer lies in its groundbreaking integration of technology, functionality, and design, setting a precedent for the future development of smartphones. Against its competition, the Siemens SX66 was like an advanced extraterrestrial device, putting all other phones at the time to shame.

Motorola E398

Moto E398 Music Phone

Credit: Cnet

In 2004, Motorola wanted to cater to every segment of the market, guiding the launch of the Motorola E398, a device that was one of the top music phones. The Motorola E398 was a classic phone with a compact and simple design, devoid of any frills. It boasted the best stereo speakers available at the time, along with a functional music player that supported both MP3 and MP4 formats (although you couldn't create MPEG4 yourself, really?). The inclusion of a microSD card slot, allows users to expand their music libraries significantly. Beyond its musical prowess, the E398 was appreciated for its well-rounded features, including a VGA camera with flash for capturing moments, a vibrant 1.9-inch TFT screen for clear display, an HTML browser for surfing the web, and firmware.

Long battery life and the practicality of its compact candy bar design made it an attractive option for the youth, who desired the highest functionality without the hefty price tag. Moreover, its user-friendly interface ensured that accessing its wide array of features was a breeze for users, further cementing its status as a highly desirable device during its time.

Why It was popular in 2004? Motorola E398 struck the perfect balance between advanced music functionality and general mobile phone utility, wrapped up in an affordable, user-friendly package.

Samsung D500

Samsung slider phone D500

Credit: GSMArena

Introduced in 2004, the Samsung D500 was the pinnacle of quality phone innovation in the slider form factor, offering tech-savvy users the full set of features needed at the time. These features included a 1.3-megapixel camera with LED flash, Bluetooth, a built-in speakerphone, and a sleek design with an internal antenna. With a fairly decent 96MB of memory, it supported video recording of up to 60 minutes and also provided email capabilities, meeting both personal and professional or image needs. The very vivid 262,000 colors on the TFT LCD screen enhance the visuals that were truly amazing in those days, I say this as a human. which at that time had a Sony Ericsson K700, and squinted eyes when looking at the Samsung screen.

The Samsung D500 was light and compact, with a lightweight body (3.68 x 1.8 x 1 inches, 3.49 ounces). Its 800 mAh battery ensured reliable operation, and the number memory could store up to 1000 contacts (this was the specification of mobile phones at the time). It had a speakerphone, vibrate alert, downloadable ringtones, and a 3.5mm jack with GSM and EDGE 10 support for communication. Many top models during that era lacked a WLAN port, and the D500 was no exception.

The Samsung D500 stands out on our 2004 list thanks to the updated screen colors, connectivity options and slider design that once made it something of an iconic style.

Sony Ericsson K700i

Sony Ericsson K700i

Credit: GSMArena

Sony Ericsson K700i, introduced in 2004, was a testament to technological progress 20 years ago. Although it had a classic all-in-one design, it was designed for users who wanted efficiency and entertainment, thanks to the memory capabilities of the Memory Stick Duo Pro slot itself, which supported up to 2 GB of memory for games, music, and photos. It had Bluetooth 2.0 and its own USB port for easy data transfer. The 2-megapixel camera allowed high-quality photos to be taken without a separate camera, which could be attached to the SE models of previous years. Its 1.8-inch TFT display had a vivid interface and this feature phone supported GSM 2G and GPRS Class 10 for communication. I didn't pay attention to the lack of a 3.5 mm jack, because the set included good headphones for the time and the K700i also offered FM radio, RDS, and support for both polyphonic and MP3 ringtones.

The K700i proved practical for daily use, boasting a comprehensive phone book, messaging options (SMS, EMS, MMS, email, instant messaging), and organizer functions. Its removable 900mAh Li-Po battery ensures up to 400 hours of standby time and 9 hours of talk time, guaranteeing day-long reliability. The device excelled in simplicity, functionality, and sound quality - catering to the preferences of young, undiscerning users at the time.

Nokia 6260

Nokia 6260 flip form phone

Credit: GSMArena

We continue to tell about the leaders among the best phones that captured the thoughts of tech-savvy young people and not only people 20 years ago. The Nokia 6260 was possibly the first in the family of rotating displays, surprising with the form factor of an unusual flip. The Nokia 6260 featured a rotating 2.1-inch TFT display, supporting up to 65,536 colors and allowing the screen to rotate into four positions, complemented by a VGA camera on the left side for selfies and a 5-way navigation key for easy control.

The Nokia 6260 ran on Symbian OS, a popular OS of its time, and connected via 2G GSM networks. It had expandable memory via a microSD card but no Wi-Fi or 3.5mm headphone jack. Bluetooth 1.1 allowed for wireless connectivity, while entertainment came from a built-in MP3 player and FM radio. 

So, why we loved the Nokia 6260 in 2004? Of course, for its rotating display and perfectly crafted design.

Nokia 6630

Nokia 6630 smartphone

Credit: GSMArena

Released in 2004, the Nokia 6630 marked a significant advance in the Symbian smartphone line with a 2.1-inch QVGA display, 1.3-megapixel camera, and 3G network support. Customers especially noted the key role of the Nokia 6630 in introducing the world of smartphones. With features like WAP 2.0, Bluetooth connectivity including basic imaging and printing profiles, HSCSD, GPRS (3+1), and EGPRS (Class B), it stood out as a versatile device for its era. Talking about the Nokia 6630, it was a step up from its predecessors which made it very suitable for the tech-savvy users of its time. 

Its distinctive barrel-shaped design, comprehensive Symbian operating system, and a range of features, including 3G technology and memory expansion options, and of course gaming capabilities that users of phones from other manufacturers could only dream of, made it an unforgettable and impressive device the dawn of smartphones.

Motorola RAZR V3

Motorola Razr V3

Credit: GSMArena

Introduced in the third quarter of 2004, the Motorola RAZR V3 became an icon in the world of mobile technology thanks to its design. Its anodized aluminum body combines the strength and aesthetics of a thin blade, has a main TFT display with a diagonal of about 2.2 inches with 256 thousand colors, as well as an additional display on the outer cover. Fairly modest memory specs, including 5.5MB of built-in memory and a phonebook that could hold up to 1,000 entries. It also had a VGA primary camera for video capture, but like many phones from 20 years ago, lacked a selfie camera and a 3.5mm jack, although the sound through the speaker was good.

It supported different types of notifications, polyphonic and MP3 ringtones, and different connectivity options: Bluetooth 1.2, and mini USB, but no WLAN, GPS, or radio. Multimedia and productivity tools included a WAP 2.0/xHTML browser, SMS, EMS, MMS, e-mail, instant messaging and Java MIDP 2.0 support, MP4 video playback, intelligent text input, and an organizer. Powered by a removable 680mAh Li-ion battery, it offered up to 280 hours of standby time and up to 7 hours of talk time. 

While it may appear sufficient at first glance, it's important to note that competitors have already offered similar features. However, the Motorola RAZR V3 distinguished itself, achieving remarkable success. Over 135 million units were sold, and after its 2004 release, several variations of the RAZR were introduced, with the latest model debuting last year. The unprecedented popularity of the RAZR V3, a precursor to the iPhone, can be attributed to its innovative design and effective marketing strategies. This mobile phone became a cultural icon, featured in movies, television series, and music videos, showcasing its widespread appeal and influence during that era.

Motorola razr new product card

Motorola razr | 2023

Motorola razr | 2023 | Unlocked | Made for US 8/128 | 32MP Camera



Bottom Line

The mobile tech landscape evolved significantly from 2004 to 2024, with advancements in hardware, software, and user experience, catering to user demands globally. 20 years ago, phones were stylish and unique in design, each manufacturer offering appearance different in models. 

In 2004, phones focused on calls, texts, and basic multimedia, and manufacturers were focused on mainly design. Devices like Motorola RAZR V3 and Nokia 6260 were cutting-edge form factors, but limited by 2G internet, WAP browsers, and basic cameras.
In 2024, smartphones dominate personal and professional life. They feature high-res displays, advanced cameras, 5G connectivity, computer-like processing power, and improved battery tech. Software is mature, with seamless integration, robust security, and a vast app ecosystem. UIs are intuitive with gesture controls and voice commands.

While the tech was impressive in 2004, today's advancements may lack the same wow factor due to our heightened expectations. The emphasis has transitioned from style, which we have surpassed, to technological cliffs where we currently stand. However, we navigate these terrains with familiar paths leading us upwards.

By the way, I forgot to ask: what was your favorite phone from 10-15-20 years ago?