While today’s world knows smartphones as containing the entirety of the World Wide Web, this wasn’t always the case. Things looked a whole lot different two decades ago when one name was a dominant player in the game. Nokia, first founded in 1865, became synonymous with phone design beginning in the late 1980s.
Today, it feels like smartphones all look very similar, and bold designs have gone out in favor of repeat sales. Even with flip phones growing in popularity, today’s phones feel dull compared to the crazy ideas Nokia had years ago. Between full keyboards and gaming, Nokia was well ahead of its time when it came to phone design.
With this in mind, let’s walk down memory lane and look at the most hilarious Nokia phones.
Nokia 9000 Communicator
Nokia’s first truly hilarious design, the Nokia 9000 Communicator was something out of the movies. The first in Nokia’s Communicator series, the 1996 release was a hefty 394 grams to fit so many features.
Long regarded as a predecessor to the smartphones of today, the 9000 could send and receive faxes, had a web browser, and was loaded with business programs. However, the real highlight of the design was a full folding QWERTY keyboard.
Connecting to a PC suite, the Nokia 9000 Communicator was an immediate hit with boardroom types. Keeping connected to their offices while out of town was a big upside for Communicator owners. Unfortunately, the poorly lit screen was a disappointment, as was its initial $800 price point.
The first in Nokia’s higher-end 8000 series, the Nokia 8110 was a 1996 release that introduced the world to the idea of a slider phone form. The sliding cover protected the keyboard and would extend down closer to your mouth when in use. While the design would earn the Nokia 8110 the “banana” nickname, it’s easy to say the design didn’t work.
A version of this phone was infamously used in the 1999 movie The Matrix, which popularized the slider design. At the time, the idea of a sliding cover was pretty wild, but the movie sparked big sales for Nokia.
An updated model, the Nokia 8110i, introduced Nokia’s Smart Messaging service, which would later be shuttered for the WAP standard.
Among Nokia’s earliest, but most hilarious designs of a newer era, was the somewhat rectangular Nokia 3650. Running Nokia’s famous Symbian Series 60 operating system, the 176 x 208-pixel screen was mashed into a rectangular look. However, it wasn’t the overall style of the phone that made the Nokia 3650 look out of place.
Instead, it was the distinct look of the retro circular keypad, which reminds you of the rotary telephone. Even with the introduction of expandable memory, long battery life, and the ability to record video, it’s hard to look at anything but the keypad.
This 2003 phone was made available across the world, while multiple successors were also introduced with improved screens.
Among the phones that best speak to Nokia’s era of hilarious designs, the Nokia 7600 might top them all. The 2003 7600 was Nokia’s second 3G-capable handset and offered what can only be described as a radical form factor.
Nokia never tried to hide its attempts to use this form factor to connect with fashionable individuals over the teardrop design. Even with interchangeable covers, it’s hard to imagine a less fashionable device attempting to endear itself to a fashionable crowd.
Even though numbers surrounded the large screen, Nokia also somehow managed to include a VGA camera. With a talk time of 3 hours, using the Nokia was every bit as awkward as you can imagine.
Without a doubt, my favorite phone ever from Nokia, the NGage, was the first moment I discovered how great mobile gaming can be. Announced and released in 2003, Nokia tried to do something special with the NGage and lure customers away from the Game Boy Advance.
Even though Nokia was ultimately unsuccessful in its attempts to conquer Nintendo, it doesn’t take away just how great this device is. Widely described as resembling a taco (I don’t see it, but the internet says so!), it was awkwardly held to the ear, which amplifies its hilarious nature.
However, the 2.1-inch TFT display paired with a Dpad and various other buttons on the front of the device to operate as a game console. Nokia would release numerous games for the NGage, though it was by all accounts a commercial disappointment.
Nokia’s desire to keep the world moving into a QWERTY keyboard world began with the Nokia 6800 series, specifically the 6810. This unusual design allowed for the keyboard to “unfold” as part of the design. The idea behind this device is widely considered an attempt by Nokia to combat the growing love for BlackBerry devices.
Labeled as “messaging devices” by Nokia, every 6810 model had a built-in email client. Along with the email client, which in some countries included Blackberry support, you also had infrared controls and support for three different GSM networks.
While the Nokia 6810 was used by consumers, there is little doubt the phone was designed with office work in mind. Something of a transforming phone, the history of the Nokia 6810 goes in the record books as one of Nokia’s more experimental designs.
Designed with the same body style as the NGage, the Nokia 3300 was another uniquely designed phone though it lacked a QWERTY keyboard. The biggest highlight of this oddly shaped device was its ability to play music, which was how Nokia promoted its release.
A center display featured a keypad to the right of the screen and a directional pad to the left. The design does look and feel like the NGage, minus game support. Where the 3300 shined was its support for MP3 and AAC audio and support for FM radio.
Nokia also added a digital voice recorder feature that paired with expandable memory through an MMC card. Today, the Nokia 3300 is a rare find having not been a huge seller at the time of its release.
Arguably one of Nokia’s most hilarious designs, the Nokia 7280 was often regarded as the company’s “lipstick” phone. A thin design that won multiple awards from Fortune Magazine, there is just something about this phone that screams cool and outrageous at the same time. Designed to look like a lipstick holder, the display would even act as a mirror when not in use.
Mixing plastic, leather, fabric, and metal, this device was made with one purpose in mind, to stand out. A scroll wheel, similar to the Apple iPod’s Click Wheel, would help navigate the on-screen menu system.
Whether you were looking for a contact or dialing a number, you would scroll around until you found what you needed. To be fair, it sounds super tedious these days in the world of touchscreens to scroll around, but back in 2004, it created quite a buzz.
Best known as Nokia’s first smartphone and touchscreen, the Nokia 7710 was well ahead of its time. A 2:1 aspect ratio supported the Symbian Series 90 operating system, all while featuring a 640 x 320 resolution. Boasting 16-bit color, it would be the only smartphone Nokia ever released to run this operating system.
Nokia would build the 7710 as its first “wide-screen multimedia smartphone” that combined phone capabilities with those of a computer. Before the iPhone, the 7710 was thought to deliver a true Internet experience with support for Adobe Flash 6.
On top of the internet, the Nokia 7710 was positioned as a “smartphone” that allowed you to watch TV. Surprisingly and perhaps hilariously, Nokia developed a separate TV tuning module that would clip to the back of the device and allow TV shows to be viewed.
Part smartphone, part camcorder, the 2005 Nokia N90 was a hilariously good phone at the time. Developed with Carl Zeiss camera optics and integrated support for flash, this was a true smartphone predecessor. Featuring a 2.1-inch display with 259 ppi, the N90 takes the prize as the best display Nokia ever produced.
Made available with either a 64MB or 128MB memory card, you could use a USB transfer cable to move photos and videos of the device onto a computer.
Unfortunately, a strong spec sheet just wasn’t good enough for the Nokia N90. Its big and bulky design would ultimately make it a tough sell to consumers. You can call the N90 a lot of things, but small wouldn’t be one of them.
Oldest Nokia Phones That Look Hilarious Summary
|Nokia 9000 Communicator
|One of Nokia’s first QWERTY keyboards, the 9000 Communicator is a truly hilarious-looking device.
|A 1996 release, the Nokia 8110 was popularized by The Matrix film.
|Nokia’s 3650 design was very interesting thanks to its rotary-style keypad.
|Nokia’s first 3G capable device, the 7600 was one of the weirdest devices Nokia ever released.
|One of the first mobile gaming devices, the Nokia NGage looks like a taco when using it for phone calls.
|The folding keyboard of the Nokia 6810 was too ahead of its time.
|The Nokia 3300 failed to learn the lesson of the NGage with its taco-shaped style.
|Looking like a lipstick container, the Nokia 7280 was a fashion-first device with an awful scroll wheel.
|The Nokia 7710 was Nokia’s first real smartphone and had a janky TV attachment.
|Made to resemble a camcorder, the Nokia N90 was a very heavy device.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Arnold O. A. Pinto/Shutterstock.com.