I have been in this business for just shy of two years now. In the eyes of many in this industry, I'm just a kid. But the truth is, I've had just about as much experience and hands-on time as anyone else. I may have only got my start in the cell phone world back in 2006, but I made up for lost time, switching between phones as fast as I could move one and buy another.
In my short time, there have been a few select handsets that have truly stuck with me and made the biggest impression. Who knows, if I had missed one of these along the way, I might not be where I am today. So here lies my top five classic handsets in no particular order:
BlackBerry Curve 8330 (Alltel)
This is where it all started for me – where the term “smartphone” smacked me square in the face and my obsession began. That's a bit of a stretch as my first smartphone was actually the Motorola Q. But I traded the Moto Q for the Curve within a week, so I don't like to count it. The 8330 launched in September of 2007, not long after the original iPhone. I remember thinking how cool it was to be able to browse the Internet and update my Facebook from virtually anywhere. The 2-megapixel camera was the best thing since sliced bread and the keyboard was fantastic. I only charged the phone every other day, even after a day full of heavy use (those were the days).
It would be a serious understatement to say that things have changed in this industry since late 2007, but the BlackBerry Curve 8330 is still one of my favorite phones ever. I've been tempted to activate it again, just for kicks, but it's an Alltel device and Verizon reps don't like it when you beg them to activate phones not in their system.
Google Nexus One (AT&T)
My history with Android started long before the Nexus One. I owned a HTC Hero on Sprint, but I had watched all sorts of videos of Android from way back in the day (2006ish). The Nexus One, however, was the phone that took my love for Andy to a totally different level. Seeing as it was the first technical "developer's phone" from Google, devs went crazy over it.
Not only was software a huge plus on the Nexus One, the hardware was fantastic. In fact, I wish HTC would revisit particular design with a larger display and no trackball. Not a single Android device (no, not even the EVO 4G) is as iconic as the Nexus One. It may not have sold quite as quickly as the EVO or the Motorola DROID, but it was the full package and the epitome of what an Android phone should be. I have yet to see such attention to detail since the Nexus One. Here's to hoping the Nexus Prime can give it a run for its money.
Palm Pre (Sprint)
At this point in my cell phone career, I had worked by way into a position as a Sales Associate at Best Buy Mobile. Everyone was eagerly anticipating the release of the Palm Pre and I simply had to buy one on launch day. So I did.
The keyboard was small and near impossible to get used to, the power button was hard to press and the charging port cover was a pain to open. Although the hardware was lacking, webOS was incredibly smooth and polished, even in its early stages. Despite the pitiful battery life and lack of applications, I loved that darn phone. Gestures, multitasking and “synergy” alone land this phone on my top 5 classics. If only HP had learned from Palm's mistakes …
Kyocera Strobe (Alltel)
The Kyocera Strobe, likely a phone you guys have never heard of, was my very first phone. It was a hand-me-down from my mother. It sported two displays; one on the outside above a numeric pad and a larger one inside fixed to a hinge above a full QWERTY keyboard. The external display was meant to quickly read text messages or place calls without opening the phone, but it was really too small for any real use.
Back then, it wasn't about specs, but more about features. The best feature of the Strobe was the QWERTY keyboard, which was split in half, divided by a directional pad. It also had a set of speakers beside the display for speakerphone (which I thought was amazing at the time). It was also kind of fat and heavy, but boy could I churn out text messages on this thing. I love the split keyboard design. We're beginning to see it software versions on tablets, but I wish someone would make another landscape QWERTY phone with a split keyboard.
BlackBerry Tour 9630 (Verizon)
After the Curve 8330, I was desperately waiting for RIM to grace us CDMA users with another phone. GSM carriers used to get all the love from Research In Motion, and they still do to an extent. But this is where my cunning truly shined. I won't go through the details but my mother and I both walked away with Tours on launch day. Of all the phones I've had in my life, I think I spent the most with the Tour.
I remember there being an app called I Heart BlackBerry which would log your daily usage time down to the seconds used – I used to log around 12 hours per day. (Yeah, talk about addicted.) I was actually reluctant to give it up when upgrade time came. But I eventually switched it for a Motorola DROID and never looked back. I took my obsessions with phones to the next level with the Tour, always scouring the CrackBerry forums for new software versions and themes. I even made quite a few themes of my own.
It was this very obsession with BlackBerry that I was introduced to Aaron "Hairon" Baker and eventually led to me doing what I'm doing today. Crazy … but true.
Here's your chance, readers. Set aside your obsession for crazy, over the top specifications and tell me what your top five classic cell phones are. Mine don't date back that far, but it was pretty tough to sift through all of them to choose just five.