When you walk into a mobile retail store today, you’re greeted by walls of phones that look nearly identical to each other: rectangular slabs with sharp (sometimes rounded) corners that typically come in neutral colors. Very seldom do we come across anything that’s truly unique from this now uniform design.
But the mobile industry wasn’t always so invariable. Over the past decade, the scene inside retail stores have changed considerably. Aside from the inevitable evolution of mobile technology, in the past there was more incentive to be creative with mobile phone designs. Since the mobile industry was still in the process of becoming the booming trend it is today, manufacturers had to figure out what designs worked best for consumers. The result? Some really funky phone designs.
Part of the reason I became so invested in mobile was because I was so intrigued by all of the bizarre designs and features of new mobile phones (which, for me, stretches beyond the scope of smartphones). I figured today seemed like a good day to reminisce about our favorite weird phones over the years.
The LG Lotus was probably the first phone that I looked at and said, “Wow, that’s a weird phone,” while simultaneously feeling like I needed to have that phone. It was purple, it was pretty, it was a flip phone with a full QWERTY keyboard, and it was everything I ever wanted. Eventually I did come to own the phone, and it was actually a pretty awesome phone at the end of the day. The front panel had a notification screen and some navigation buttons (great for controlling music). I didn’t own it for very long, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for that quirky design.
Microsoft’s Kin devices never did gain much traction, but at least one of the phones had a design worth mentioning. The bite-sized Kin One had a 2.6-inch display, extremely rounded corners, and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The device was primarily made for social networking, but ultimately never got far before it was scrapped for good.
We’re always poking fun at how large smartphones have gotten, but the flip side was equally ridiculous. The Pantech C300 is the world’s smallest flip phone, and is smaller than the palm of your hand. Surprisingly, the device also had a camera. As ridiculous as this phone might have been, I can recall at least 3 friends who had this phone, and I was jealous of all of them.
There was a time where the coolest feature a phone could have would be the ability to play music, so it made sense for manufacturers to play up this feature. The Samsung Juke was an mp3 player when folded and a phone when it swiveled out.
Although relatively new, YotaPhone is probably one of the only “weird” phones we have around right now. Normal smartphone by day, e-ink reader by… well, also day, because that’s hard to read at night. Still, the dual-sided smartphones is both weird and super cool when you stop to think about it.
This phone really just speaks for itself.
And then we get to Nokia, who probably has the longest laundry list of attempts at creating oddly memorable devices...
In a world where T9 was ruler of all things text-y, Nokia decided to get crafty and include a full physical QWERTY keyboard. While keeping a small screen sandwiched between two halves of a keyboard, the Nokia 5510 managed to be one of the most innovative and quirkiest handsets of its time.
Two steps above the 7600, the 3650 was able to keep a strange layout of its numerical keys and feature a strange waterdrop-like design while still bearing some semblance to “normal” cell phones.
I thought that Oppo N3’s swivel camera was a pretty neat concept. The Nokia 5700’s swivel camera concept, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to work as well. Instead of swiveling just the camera to take optimal selfies, the Nokia 5700 has you swivel the entire keypad to the side in order to take decent camera shots. However, since phones with cameras were still a work in progress, this design choice apparently made more sense back then than it does now.
You’ve probably seen this weird phone at some point in your life, even if only on another “most bizarre phones to ever exist” list. Nonetheless, the Nokia 7600 is, in my opinion, one of the weirdest phones to ever exist, if not the weirdest. Not only does it look impractical, but it also doesn’t seem like it would be that comfortable to hold, either.
So there you have it. These are the 10 phones that I feel are worth mentioning when it comes to bizarre mobile devices we’ve seen over the past decade (some of them even older than 10 years, but at least within 15 years’ time).
Now we want to hear from you, readers! When it comes to phones with unique designs, which ones do you remember most? Let us know in the comments below!