And so to the fourth and final part of our Worst Mobile Phones of All Time series. If you didn’t catch the earlier instalments, you’ve missed a couple of absolute crackers from Bang & Olufsen, and a highly controversial Nokia special.
After part 2, an influx of irate comments all but demanded my extradition to Finland to stand trial in front of Elop and Co. “Young” and “immature” I may be, but I’m not going to cry into my cornflakes if someone says my phone is pants.
Remember folks, a phone is just a phone.
Right, enough of the serious talk. Let's crack on.
Siemens Xelibri range (Xelibri 1 to 8 )
With its Xelibri range, Siemens went absolutely mental and decided to launch a series of phones as fashion accessories. A true case of style over substance. But without the style.
The ordinary Joseph – what with his need for something practical, reliable and affordable – was immediately put off by the lofty price tags and abundant pretentiousness, but even fashion-conscious trendos couldn’t quite comprehend the bizarre-o handsets.
The first range was Space on Earth, supposedly inspired by Star Trek. Brilliant. The second was Fashion Extravaganza, designed by IDEO. The Xelibris debuted in early 2003, and lasted less than 18 months before being pulled.
Siemens managed to punt 780,000 Xelibris, which might sound fairly successful, but the eight handsets accounted for less than 2% of the company’s total sales in that period.
What could be better than one keypad? You got it – two keypads! Why did no one think of it before? With the G450, Toshiba split the 12 keys into two pairs of six, making text input a massive chore.
To make matters worse, the screen was a tiny 96x39 pixels, and hence completely incapable of displaying anything close to a reasonable amount of text.
The Toshiba G450 also lacked fairly standard features, such as a camera and email support.
To be fair to Tosh, the G450 was really marketed as a USB modem with additional functionality, and in that respect it worked quite well. As a phone, however, it was almost unusable.
UTStarcom is surely one of the best company names of all time. I like to imagine that they’re from the future, and hence blazing a trail of cutting edge technology, creating gadgets that no one in their right mind would think of for hundreds of years.
Alas, the folks from UTStarcom are just like you and I. And, with the UTStarcom CDM-105, they decided to keep things decidedly basic.
Like the Sanyo SCP-200 (featured in part 3), the UTStarcom CDM-105 was a flip-phone without an external screen, making it impossible to tell who was calling without answering.
The phone was tiny, and the internal screen was poorly lit and looked washed out. The keys were well spaced out, but small and difficult to use. Not very futuristic at all, sadly.
Vertu Signature Cobra
There’s no two ways about it. This phone is absolutely freakin’ ridiculous.
Only eight Vertu Signature Cobras were ever made, and with good reason. The phones had a jewel-encrusted cobra round the outside, with two diamonds, two emeralds for eyes, and 439 rubies. Total value? Over $300,000.
But fear not; if that’s a little out of your price range, Vertu also made 26 Signature Pythons at a substantially more affordable $115,000.
The Vertu Signature Cobra weighed in at 190g, and featured a tiny 1.9in TFT screen. I think I’ll stick with the £300 HTC Desire, thanks.
Virgin Lobster 700TV
The Virgin Lobster 700TV was the first handset in the UK to offer a free TV service. Alas, despite being 'hilariously' marketed as a “Tellyphone”, it never really caught on.
Watching TV was all well and good if you stayed in the same place, but take the Virgin Lobster 700TV on the bus or train and you’d frequently see the “Lost Signal” message. Unlike the radio, the TV signal was completely unforgiving; it was all or nothing.
The phone wasn’t entirely rubbish, but gets a special mention here for its odd design. As the name suggests, it looked like a lobsters claw, which essentially means it had a big stupid bit sticking out the side.