What are the best cell phones under 50,000

From brick to board: smartphones from 1992 to today

Nowadays, smartphones have become an integral part of everyday life. Telephoning has become a minor matter - messengers, the always-with-you camera, appointment management, the gateway to the social network worlds and the smart companions serve as a gaming machine. When Apple turned the smartphone industry upside down with the first iPhone in 2007, the "smartphone" itself was more than a decade old. However, very few manufacturers have survived from the early days of the clever mobile phones to the present day.

The term itself is broader than you might think, if you look at the representatives. How the device class has developed, which models there were and which are considered classics of their craft, this series of pictures is intended to shed some light on.

Smartphones from 1992 until today

The evolution of smartphone design has come a long way. There are worlds between the "portable phone booth" Ericsson R380 from 2000 and brand new devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. We compare how the smart phones have changed in terms of size, weight and screen-to-case ratio. Above all, the thickness and the often small frame around the display changed positively. In terms of weight, on the other hand, we are slowly returning to the early days of smartphones.

With a click on the respective picture you get through the picture gallery.

It happened several times that technical achievements were simply ahead of their time. What we mean by a smartphone today - touchscreen, mobile communications and apps - was first shown by IBM in November 1992 at Computex. Although still as a prototype, the IBM Simon Personal Communicator, or IBM Simon for short, was the first device according to the definition of a smartphone. Between 1994 and 1995, the device was sold over 50,000 times in the United States at a price of $ 1,099 without a contract. But it was by no means handy with a size of 200 by 64 by 38 millimeters and a weight of 510 grams.

Its outstanding and - for the time - revolutionary capabilities included receiving and making calls, sending and receiving faxes, e-mails, and supporting small utilities. Said programs for contacts, notes, a simple e-mail client, a fax program, calendar, calculator, world clock and even a program for handwritten notes were preinstalled. Even then, the IBM Simon was equipped with a touchscreen that even supported predictive stylus input. A modified form of Datalight ROM-DOS was used as the operating system, the surface of which managed completely without a command line. That, too, was a revolution by the standards of the day.

For many, the Nokia Communicator is the epitome of a smartphone. Large, feature-rich, with a full keyboard and fax support, Nokia set a new standard in business communication. The debut was the Nokia 9000 Communicator from 1996, for which the term smartphone was introduced for the first time in the context of marketing. Several successors have continuously improved the Communicator series with new technology and new functions.

The first actually certified use of the term "smartphone" goes back to the Swedish manufacturer Ericsson in 1996, in connection with the never published G88. It was not until 2000 that Ericsson brought a corresponding product onto the market. The R380 measured 130 by 50 by 26 millimeters and weighed an impressive 164 grams - it is considered the ancestor of the P series from Sony-Ericsson. Unfortunately, we could no longer find data on the screen-to-body ratio (kruz StBR). The Nokia 9210 Communicator, which appeared in November 2000, had a StBR value of 42 percent. The display was a lush 4.5 inches for the time. With 244 grams and a size of 15 by 56 by 27 millimeters, the smartphone was clearly noticeable in your pocket.

The smart mobile phones became truly portable for the first time with the Nokia 7650, which appeared in 2002. The handy device measured 114 by 56 by 26 millimeters and weighed 154 grams. With its measly 2.1 inches, the screen only took up 22 percent of the housing area. Competitor Sony-Ericsson ventured into the ring of PDA-cellphone combinations in autumn 2002. At 117 by 59 by 27 millimeters and 158 grams, the P800 was on par with Nokia. Thanks to the 2.9-inch touchscreen, the screen-to-body ratio was 35.9 percent.

But Nokia also proved again at the beginning of 2003 that they did not have a knack for compact mobile devices. The 3650 with the distinctive "rotary dial button arrangement" was again 2.1 inches, with dimensions of 130 by 57 by 26 millimeters and a weight of 130 grams, resulting in an unspectacular StBR proportion of 18.9 percent.

In addition to Nokia, new companies also tried their hand at the growing mobile communications market in the early 2000s, above all a small Canadian company: Blackberry. With the Blackberry 6210 model, the modern manager smartphone was defined for the first time, which made a name for itself as a mail machine and with an encrypted messaging connection. The first device, the Blackberry 850, was more of a pager with a keyboard than a mobile phone. Blackberry has released many more remarkable devices that you can see in our photo gallery.

Motorola finally released the Windows MPx200 smartphone in the third quarter of 2003. When folded, the mobile phone was only 89 by 48 by 27 millimeters in size and weighed only 118 grams. The screen-to-housing ratio for the 2.2-inch panel was 37.5 percent. Special feature of the device: It combined Windows Mobile 2002 Smartphone Edition with an SD card slot - neither microSD nor miniSD - in the then very popular design of a clamshell mobile phone.

2004 started off well with the BenQ P50. Despite the QWERTZ bar shape based on the model of the Blackberry devices, the cell phone, measuring 122 by 60 by 20 millimeters, was relatively handy. However, the 170 grams and the StBR proportion of 33.2 percent were noticeable. At the same time, the BlackBerry 7730 impressed with its low thickness of just 1.8 centimeters. It also weighed just 142 grams, but had a low display-to-case ratio of 31.2 percent and a screen diagonal of 3 inches. Nokia launched the N70 in 2005, which was very light at 126 grams. The dimensions of 108.8 by 53 by 21.8 millimeters were also okay, but the display-to-housing ratio of 24.3 percent of the 2.1-inch smartphone was less.

In August 2005, HTC showed that it can be done better with the Universal. Although the device was quite a colossus at 127.7 by 81 by 25 millimeters and 285 grams, it still had a well-used screen area (38.8 percent at 3.6 inches). In June 2006, HTC continued the good ratio of display to cladding with the TyTN (37 percent). The slider weighed 176 grams and was quite handy at 113 by 58 by 22 millimeters. Palms Treo 680 reached the mass market in autumn 2006. It came with dimensions of 111.8 by 58.4 by 20.3 millimeters, a weight of 157 grams, 2.5-inch LC display and a used screen area of ​​30, 9 percent of the housing therefore.

The BlackBerry 8800 released in February 2007 was 1.4 millimeters thin. The dimensions of 114 by 66 by 14 millimeters at 134 grams were also impressive. However, due to the mobile phone's 2.5-inch LC display, the display-to-housing ratio was only 25.7 percent. Apple's first iPhone came with similar dimensions of 115 millimeters in length and 61 millimeters in width and weighed 1 gram more. The thickness of only 11.6 millimeters made the first Apple smartphone extremely compact. In addition, it had a considerable StBR of 52 percent.

Samsung's first model in the Omnia range came close to Apple's flat design in June 2008. At 112 by 56.9 by 12.5 millimeters and 122 grams, it offered a screen-to-housing ratio of 45.7 percent. The screen itself was 3.2 inches. A month later, Apple added the iPhone 3G, which at 115.5 by 62.1 by 12.3 millimeters was slightly larger than the dimensions of the first iOS smartphone. The 133 grams and the StBR of 50.9 percent were impressive.

In October 2008, after Apple, Google introduced the HTC Dream - sold in stores as the T-Mobile G1 - the world's first Android smartphone. It not only connected a full QWERTY keyboard, which was hidden under the display using a slide mechanism, but also the trackball known from Blackberry for control. Initially, the 117.7 by 55.7 by 17.1 millimeter smartphone was still decried as a hobbyist device, as Android in its first version was anything but perfect. Despite frequent updates, the system quickly gained popularity, not least thanks to the openness of the platform.

Then, however, HTC impressed with the feather-light Touch Diamond 2 (117 grams), which came out in February 2009 with Windows Mobile 6.1. At 107.9 by 53.1 by 13.7 millimeters, it was very compact, the screen (3.2 inches) took up 50.9 percent of the area.

The Motorola Milestone from the same year came to iPhone values ​​of 115.8 by 60 by 13.7 millimeters, and even offered a 3.7-inch display and 54.3 percent StBR. The absolute highlight and one of the reasons for the great popularity at the time was the keyboard, which could be pulled out from under the display using a slide mechanism.

Samsung opened its flagship series in June 2010 with the Galaxy S. Thanks to its small size of 122.4 by 64.2 by 9.9 millimeters, Samsung's flagship model fit comfortably in any trouser pocket. Only 119 grams in spite of the 4-inch display was a novelty, the screen-to-case size of 58 percent was impressive. Apple couldn't stand that and sent the iPhone 4 into the race in September 2010. At 115.2 by 58.6 by 9.3 millimeters, it was even handier than the Galaxy. However, the weight was 137 grams and the StBR was 54 percent for a 3.5 inch screen. Samsung amazed the fans with its first Galaxy Note in 2011. The new flagship lured with a 5.3-inch display that took up 66.8 percent of the case. However, the buyers had to carry around 176 grams, distributed over 146 by 83 by 9.7 millimeters.

The "anorexia of smartphones" was finally triggered by the Motorola RAZR XT910 in November 2011. The height of 130.7 millimeters and the thickness of 68.9 millimeters were hardly worth mentioning - but the depth of 7.1 millimeters was. The StBR was only 56.6 percent. The competition for the thinnest cell phone continued in February 2012 when Sony introduced the Xperia S, measuring 128 by 64 by 10.6 millimeters. At 144 grams, however, the smartphone was not exactly lightweight. The used area of ​​the screen in relation to the case was 62 percent. The Huawei Ascend P1, released in May 2012, was lighter and scored points with a compact 127.4 by 64.8 by 7.7 millimeters and a light 110 grams. Like the RAZR, the Huawei phone had a 4.3-inch display, but a better screen-to-case ratio of 61.7 percent.

The Galaxy S4 made excellent use of the screen space in 2013 with 72.3 percent. However, the dimensions increased to 136.6 by 69.8 by 7.9 millimeters. Weighing in at 130 grams, the S4 wasn't too heavy a burden. Apple's iPhone 5s, which followed in September as usual, was even less heavy and with dimensions of 123.8 by 58.6 by 7.6 millimeters a little smaller. At 112 grams, it undercuts the weight of the Galaxy S4, but with a StBR of 60.8 percent it is not its more efficient use of the case.

In the following year, LG and Sharp in particular stood out with their exemplary device design. The LG G3 had a 5.5-inch display and weighed an impressive 149 grams - but the screen-to-housing ratio was a respectable 75.3 percent. Also in 2014, the Aquos Crystal impressed with its 5-inch screen and a StBR value of a whopping 78.5 percent with a weight of 141 grams and a thickness of one centimeter. In 2015, 150-gram smartphones were no longer uncommon. The Galaxy S6 was slightly lower at 138 grams and had a display-to-case ratio of 70.1 percent. At 6.8 millimeters, the mobile device was narrow, but at 143 millimeters it was tight in your pocket. The Huawei Mate S countered in September 2015 with 73.9 percent at the StBR. With a 5.5-inch display and 149.8 by 75.3 by 7.2 millimeters, this mobile phone was only partially pocket-friendly.

In March 2017, Samsung presented its latest flagships in New York. The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus particularly impressed with their infinity displays. A hitherto completely new format of 18.5: 9 caused astonishment because, contrary to what was feared, the device did not grow in width, but in height. By omitting the home button, the Galaxy S8 has twelve to 13 percent more display area compared to its predecessor models with touch screens that extend right and left to the edge of the housing, marking a new milestone in the history of smartphones Screen-to-body ratio of 83.26 percent. Because despite the new format, the new devices were very comfortable to hold and the display impressed right away with its excellent, natural representations with rich colors.

In addition to the external changes and the strong display, Samsung also relied on innovations for the front camera. The 5-megapixel camera was not only replaced by an 8-megapixel camera, it also brought the iris scanner on board for the first time.

Only the great pride of the South Korean manufacturer, the in-house language assistant Bixby, is still not completely convincing. Samsung took the displeasure with the assistant and its home button as an opportunity to "allow" users to deactivate the Bixby button. It is still only available in English and Korean. But even such a small downer for the tech giant had to cope with, because the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus broke all pre-order records right from the start.

It is clear where the trend is headed: Phablets are increasingly becoming the standard and are displacing the more compact forms from the market. Large manufacturers such as Samsung and Apple are now also offering their flagships with 5.5-inch displays. The large models are inevitably reminiscent of the beginning of the smartphone era in 2000, when a 158 by 56 by 27 millimeter Nokia 9210 Communicator was still considered a "killer". At 158.2 by 77.9 millimeters, the Apple iPhone 7 Plus even surpasses the Finnish bedrock in height and width, even if it is significantly thinner at 7.3 millimeters.

There is also déjà vu when it comes to weight: Smartphones weighing 140 grams or more have been a rarity since 2007. Today, due to the large screens, the opposite is more the case. The mobile devices have lost a bit of mobility, and the slim design of a Motorola Moto Z from 2016 with its 5.2 millimeters does not help. Everyone has to decide for themselves whether they like this trend or not.

Nowadays, not all manufacturers pay attention to an efficient ratio of screen to housing, but Xiaomi in particular has surprised in this area. The Xiaomi Mi Mix comes up with a screen-to-body ratio of 91.3 percent - and is therefore almost borderless. We are curious to see how the mobility of smartphones will continue to change in the coming years.

Need even more nostalgia? In our photo gallery you can follow how the previously celebrated top model Samsung Galaxy Note has developed - from 2011 to today.