Before the era of smartphones, androids, and iOS, the Nigerian society first had its feel of mobile telephones in the early 2000s with several brands of mobile phones flooding the market space at the time.

 These phones were used to portray wealth and influence back in the day. These were the era of infra-red ‘the real deal’ for transferring files from one device to another before Bluetooth.

 These devices were referred to as GSM which stands for Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) but some people made a joke out of it by saying it stood for ‘General Street madness’ because it looked like the best thing that had happened to the world especially the Nigerian society since sliced bread.

 If you owned any of these phones then, you were a ‘big boy/girl’ and probably had a couple of people wanting to be friends with you or be in a relationship with you, but unfortunately, times have changed and everyone seems to have left the JAVA/Symbian era where these phones had either blue or green screen backlight to Android and iOS era which has more colorful screens and wallpapers.

Here are some of the most popular cellphones that birthed the telecommunication industry in Nigeria and are no longer in use:

  1. Nokia 3310
Display of the Nokia 3310

This is one of the most popular phones Nokia has ever made. The Nokia 3310 was not only popular but was one of the phones that sold extremely well worldwide. Nokia was the god of mobile phones those days. Who doesn’t remember playing the very popular snake game on the Nokia 3310 alongside other games like Pairs II, Space Impact, Batumi? The Snake series of games are still popular on some Nokia handsets. The Nokia 3310 is one of the most successful phones sold in history with 126 million units sold worldwide. The Nokia 3310 was developed at the hexagon site in Denmark and it was known for having many features that were available at the time. These features included a calculator, a stopwatch, and a reminder function. Just how expensive and how much a mobile phone could mean to an individual was revealed in a sad story of a Romanian man who hung himself after losing his Nokia 3310

2. Samsung  r220

The Samsung R220

The Samsung R220 popularly known as blue face or true blue was another phone that made a person holding it, feel on top of the world. The reflective blue light at night could make your face gleam with pride whenever a call came in on the device. Not many could afford to own this particular phone because it was a little bit pricy, especially when it was launched. Samsung R220 was released in 2001 with more attractive specifications, a battery capacity of 750m Ah, and a talk time of 5 hours. The phone had a monochrome graphic display, blue back-lightening, analog, and digital clock, and also calls record of up to 10 dialed, 10 received and 10 missed calls.

3. Alcatel One Touch 311

Display of the Alcatel One Touch 311 Phone

Alcatel One Touch 311 was one of the choices of mobile phone brands a lot of people went for. It was launched in 2001 with a robust exterior that could withstand it falling off a table or your pocket. Alcatel made waves in the Nigerian market when it was released because many people thought It was durable and easy to use with jelly buttons. The Alcatel One Touch 311 had a standby battery of up to 300 hours and a talk time of up to 5 hours. Alcatel’s business enterprise was later sold to a Chinese company and in 2016 Nokia purchased the rest of Alcatel.

4. Motorola RAZR flip phone

Display of the Motorola Razr Phone

“Hello Moto” was the start-up tone you would hear when you turned on the Motorola Razr phone. It was launched in 2003 with a stylish ultra-thin design. Due to its sleek design and external glass screen, the Motorola Razr was initially marketed as an exclusive fashion phone until the introduction of the iPhone. The flip phone was the bomb then and owning a Motorola Razr back then was like having an iPhone today. Most people who owned one wanted to show it off and It felt so sleek at the time, to flip your phone open to making a call and shut after having a heated argument. Lols.

The Motorola Razr phone featured 6 hours of talk time and 13.5 MegaBytes of internal memory. Since its release in 2003, the Motorola Razor became the best-selling flip phone of all time with over 130 million units sold in a space of four years. Did you own one?

 5. Bird Flip

The Bird S1186 Flip Phone

The Bird phone was not just named after a flying animal, it was another flip phone that a lot of ‘big’ guys and ladies rocked back in the day. It was the first flip phone before the Motorola Razor. This popular brand of cell phone that came in the flip model also had other phone specifications flooding the Nigerian market space too. It was common to see the female gender hold this device more. The bird flip came in silver color. It was portable, attractive, and was easily stolen.

6. Sagem my x-1:

The Sagem My X-1 Phone

SAGEM was the first mobile phone that was sold by South African Mobile telecommunications company MTN. Heavy with hard keypads and a noticeable antenna, the Sagem my x-1 phone sold at 18 thousand naira, and people who owned one could be counted as not many people could afford it then. Sagem was a major French company involved in defense electronics, consumer electronics, and communication systems.

The Sagem company with its headquarters in France produced various phone models between 1995 and 2000 before it was renamed to MobiWire in 2011 and became bankrupt shortly after.

Sagem company no longer produces Sagem-branded devices but now operates as an Original Design Manufacturer (ODM). ODM is a company that manufactures and designs products that are rebranded and sold by another firm.

7. Siemens C35

The Siemens C 35 Device

If you remember the Siemens phone, you would also recall that it was among the first popular phones Nigerians used, it was another big boy/girl phone used. Siemens has been around for just as long as Nokia has been, it used to be the fourth-largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world. Siemens had a 7.6 % market share and 13 million handsets sold in the third quarter of 2004. Siemens started making losses as its market share fell from 8.6%  in 2000 to 5.6 % in 2005.

Siemens mobile was a subsidiary of Siemens AG but was later sold to a Taiwan-based company BenQ.

Siemens is now a forgotten name in the mobile phone industry.

8. Trium Mars

The Siemens C 35 Device

20 years ago it was the perfect phone to carry around with unique ring tones and long battery life. It was affordable, easy to use, and had a game called ‘PUSH’. The Trium mars cell phone was released in 2000 by Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi was known to offer the best when it came to qualitative engineering services. The Trium Mars came with a detachable battery attached to the back of the device. Although some people complained about keypad failure after usage of two or three years, the network reception quality was praised probably because of the antenna attached to the device.

9. Sendo S 200

The Sendo S 200 mobile Phone

This phone was almost a cheaper alternative for those who could not afford to buy a Nokia phone. Sendo S200 was released in 2001 with a super operating system, monochrome graphic display, and Removable Li-Ion battery, capacity of 600mAh. Sendo S200 had a talk time of up to 3 hours and the phone came in four colours; Midnight, Ink Blue, Frosty Mint and Pepper red.

Sendo was a British manufacturer and supplier of mobile phones founded in 1998. The company with its headquarters in Birmingham, England specialized in making low-cost and affordable handsets. In June 2005, the company went into administration, and its technology was bought by Motorola.

10. BlackBerry Bold 9700

Blackberry Bold 2 9700

Although its glory days are now gone, you may remember the various Blackberry devices that flooded the Nigerian market. BlackBerry Bold 9700 popularly called Bold 2 was one of the most popular BlackBerry phones with a high definition of what a business-class communication device looked like. Owning this device in Nigerian society was a must-have with a status symbol. Almost everyone wanted to own a blackberry phone. From working-class citizens to university students across Nigeria. The blackberry phone was unique featuring a full QWERTY keypad making it easy for heavy chat users. Blackberry also partnered with telecom service providers for internet access which was popularly called BlackBerry Internet Subscription BIS. The BIS gave access to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and even Blackberry’s own messaging platform which had a unique PIN associated with each device. “What’s your pin?” was the famous equivalent of sliding in the DM’s, while some people would say “PING me later”  to their friends while trying to show off.

The birth of the smartphone has, no doubt, changed people’s ways of life. Aside from being a communication gadget, the smartphone has now become the most important device in human life, satisfying multiple needs and rendering several other gadgets obsolete.

Phone technology has metamorphosed tremendously within the last two decades. Looking back from the 2020s to the 2000s, it almost seems impossible to have used these types of phones compared to what is obtainable now. Many children born within the last 10 years cannot reconcile that their parents used phones that were not smart. The curious this on the minds of those who have seen the different generations of phones would have to be, ‘what phones will be like in 2040.’

Story: Osen Attah