Tim Bichara

The Evolution of the Mobile Phone – 40 years on

The mobile phone has changed our lives over the past 40 years, affecting the way we communicate, shop and do business. It’s gone from being a technological experiment to one of the most ubiquitous items on the planet. How did that happen?


The first mobile phone call was from a Motorola DynaTAC in 1973. This first device is almost hard to imagine when compared to today’s phones. The device weighed almost a kilo and ran on the 1G analogue network akin to that of the radio signal of the time. However it was easily hacked and people could listen in and eavesdrop on your phone calls. 1G existed for most of the 70s and into the 1980s, where it was replaced by the 2G network.

2G was the first digital network and carriers began to introduce it in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Being digital meant it could facilitate higher quality calls and also be more secure than the previous network.

The 2G system also was significant as it allowed the introduction of the text message. This is one of the most revolutionary changes in phone technology. For instance nowadays, text messages have over taken calls as the primary form of phone communication. In fact, 2G phones still exist today, though in a more advanced form in most cases. Most of the traditional Nokia’s and other handsets are 2G handsets. The Nokia 3210 was a prime example of the 2G phone and many of these devices still exist and are used today.

The next big leap came in the mid-2000s with the arrival of the 3G network. The new devices could transmit data at broadband speeds over the air and this was to create a completely new world of communication.

Initially, 3G phones could only really browse simplified websites, however the technology changed and the devices became significantly more advanced. Among the most common 3G phones was the Motorola Razr. This slim device was considered the peak of technology when it came into existence in the early 2000s, though it was superseded by the phones of the modern day – the smartphones.

The first smart phones were BlackBerries, which were essentially email connected devices; however these were replaced with far more advanced handsets – the iPhone being the most renowned.

It did take time for others to catch up with Apple. However now we’ve seen a significant evolution in the previous few years and HTC, Samsung and others fighting tooth and nail alongside Apple for the number one spot.

Now we’ve seen the introduction of 4G technology; the proliferation of tablets and other devices and the expansion of mobiles being used for social media. Who can predict what the next generation of communication will hold?


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