How have mobile phones improved over time?

Just over 50 years ago mobile phones didn’t exist – while today, we are constantly connected with the rest of the world through these devices. We make calls, we message, and we manage many aspects of our lives on our phones. 

So how did we get to the smartphone technology of today? Here, we explore when mobile phones were invented, how smartphone models developed and what they are capable of now. 

How have mobile phones improved over time?

When was the mobile phone invented?

The mobile phone was invented in the 1970s by an engineer called Martin Cooper, who worked for Motorola. 

“On 3 April 1973, Marty Cooper stood on a corner of Sixth Avenue in New York and took a phone book from his pocket”. He then entered a number and made a call from a “handheld, portable cell phone” says the BBC

The commercial prototype was released 11 years later, weighing “790g (1.7lb) – nearly four times the weight of the iPhone 14”. It simply made calls, allowing users to chat for around half an hour. The handset had an antenna that needed to be extended before use and the battery took 10 hours to charge.

How have mobile phone models advanced?

Since then, mobile phone technology has continued to advance. In the 90s, many developments took place, particularly by Nokia. They launched the revolutionary Communicator in the 1990s, followed by the hugely popular 3310 model in September 2000. 

This allowed people to make calls, send text messages and even play games (we’re sure many will remember playing Snake!). Thanks to its internal antenna and affordable price tag, the 3310 gained huge popularity among the masses.

The 2000s also saw the creation of flip phones like the Motorola Razr and the popular Blackberry – featuring a QWERTY keyboard, email functionality and the BBM messaging service.

What are phones capable of today?

Fast forward to today and the technology at our fingertips is remarkable. Mobiles have transformed into smartphones capable of internet browsing, taking photos, watching videos and much, much more. 

The creation of apps allows users to do a huge number of tasks straight from their mobile phone. You can download banking apps to manage your finances, book public transport, check the weather or play online games through a Bingo app. Really, there’s not much you can’t do on a smartphone today.

In the UK, Apple takes the top spot in terms of popularity, followed by Samsung and Google. A recent article by Tech Radar explores some of the best phones available in 2024, and in first place is the iPhone 15. 

It offers “120Hz scrolling and high-spec zoom photography” with a “supremely capable 48MP main camera”. The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra takes third place in their list, said to provide “enough power to juggle a gazillion apps and run console-quality games, not to mention Samsung’s new suite of Galaxy AI features”. 

It’s incredible to think about how technology has developed since the invention of the first mobile in the 1970s. How do you think smartphones will continue to change over the next 50 years?