Was 2006 a good year? Gnarls Barkley stormed the charts with the irritatingly infectious Crazy. Over in Hollywoodland, Martin Scorsese wowed audiences and critics alike by taking Infernal Affairs, a 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller, and remoulding it into the massively inferior The Departed. Meanwhile, mobile users had no idea that the iPhone was just around the corner, hiding behind a wall and patiently waiting to punch the mobile industry in the face.
Apple haters will fondly remember the pre-Jobs era, a time when you could pick up any old handset without being asked “why didn’t you get an iPhone?” Indeed, 2006 saw some rather neat little devices. 3G and Wi-Fi became fairly standard, smart-arses boasted of their mobiles’ GPS capabilities, and camera phones melted our eyes with their boundary-smashing 3-megapixels. Nokia was also on the verge of delivering the N95, a handset that had tech-nerds salivating into their Pot Noodles, with the promise of an inconceivably powerful 5-megapixel camera and HSDPA support.
Yes, 2006 was a gay old time for mobile users. Here, in no particular order, are seven of our favourite handsets from that mostly-golden year.
Arguably the best camera phone of its day, the Sony Ericsson K800i stood tall with 3.2-megapixels and a proper flash under its chassis. With 64MB of internal memory, users could store up to 100 pictures. It was a little chunkier than its predecessor, but the Sony Ericsson K800i remains one of my favouritest phones to this day.
Sony Ericsson’s other great phone of 2006, the Walkman-branded W810i, was often touted as an “iPod killer”. Its marketing campaign focused primarily on the Sony Ericsson W810i’s abilities as an mp3 player; it came bundled with headphones and a 512MB memory card for all of your Jason Donovan albums. Nice.
The LG Chocolate KG800 was quite possibly the most innovative phone of 2006. It sported a minimalist black design, but the main draw was the touch-sensitive keypad below the screen.
Slide the screen up, and the keys glowed a vibrant red. Pretty fancy for 2006. Confusingly, there was nothing chocolatey about the LG Chocolate KG800; LG merely wanted to use a name that was easy for consumers to remember. Yes, because we're all big fat greedy slobs.
I like to imagine that “Ultra Edition 12.9” was an arbitrary addition to the Samsung D900’s title, chosen by a drunken marketing team and holding as much meaning as, say, Turbo Sausage 500.
Alas, 12.9 refers to the Samsung D900’s physical size - 103.5 x 51 x 12.9mm. Incidentally, those measurements made the Samsung D900 (Ultra Edition 12.9) the slimmest slider phone of its day, yet it still managed to squeeze in a large keypad and 3-megapixel camera. Impressive.
Joe Public cowered at the Blackberry 8700’s price-tag, and squawked hysterically at the lack of integrated camera or audio player. Aimed almost exclusively at Brian Business, the Blackberry 8700 sold itself with the offer of always-on email, a vivid 320 x 240 LCD display, and super-sexy QWERTY keyboard.
The battery life was another major selling point, with “intelligent auto-sensing technology” automatically adjusting the screen and keyboard’s lighting to suit the environment.
A popular one with trendoids, the Motorola SLVR L7 shipped with Motorola’s H500 Bluetooth headset.
Spec-wise the phone was largely unimpressive, with a sub-par 640 x 480 VGA camera. The Motorola SLVR L7 relied instead on it stylish, slim design to seduce buyers.
“Nokia For Business” was the tagline for this effort from the Finns. Indeed, at first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking you were looking at a Blackberry.
Like the Blackberry 8700, the Nokia E61 omitted an integrated camera, focusing instead on its emailing abilities, and compatibility with Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint.