Nokia has always been a hardware company. Back before anyone even thought about different phones and ideas, Nokia was the market leader. Because of that, they tried almost every possible design combination. That lead to some of the Weirdest phones, that you are about to see on this list.
So today, we present you, designs from the “Golden Age” of Nokia (2000 – 2006)
We’ll start out slow, with the 5510. Based on the famously indestructible 3310 ( hardware based, it was almost the same) this phone had a full QWERTY keyboard in an unusual form factor, it could play MP3s and had a built-in FM Tuner. Pretty good for 2001.
The 3650 (Early 2003) was in a few ways a pretty revolutionary phone, with its color screen, camera, Bluetooth, memory card slot, and smartphone OS in a solid package that felt good to hold in your hand. It’s keypad, however, was quite unique; The keys were arranged in the shape of a rotary phone. Later Nokia came out with the 3660, which had a normal keypad, but a lot of people actually got used to the rotary layout of the phone.
Next of, Nokia 3200, possibly the ugliest Nokia ever made. The idea was pretty cool – you could take off the plastic covers off and exchange the “templates” to make your phone look different, or even make your own out of paper. Pretty cool idea, but the phone itself was hideous.
The successor to the 3200 was 3220 (mid-2004), also intended to be young/hip/whatever. One of the interesting things about this phone was that it had four clear bumpers, two on each side of the phone, that had LEDs behind them. They would light up and change color to the beat of ringtones played on the phone.
It gets better- With a special case, you could do something they called “Wave messaging”, where LEDs would light up to spell a message as you waved the phone. Nearly completely useless, but probably my favorite strange feature in a Nokia phone ever.
I’m including the 5700 (Early 2007) here. It doesn’t look very special, except…
…it twists in half for some reason. Nokia had a few phones that looked normal but had parts that twisted, slid, and turned to make the phone do something different, such as the 6800 (Early 2003). At first sight, a standard phone with a standard keypad on the front…
…But you open it up and find it has a split Qwerty keyboard. This was actually quite usable. Later models like the E70 used this same design.
The Communicator Series
Designs with full keyboards often made for interesting results. Not the strangest phones to ever come out of Nokia, the Communicator series were regarded by some to be as iconic as the Thinkpad. The idea seemed to be to make a phone with the same form factor (And price category) as a very small laptop. Every member of the series was considered to be thick and oversized at its time of release, which earned them the nickname ‘The brick” inside and outside of Nokia.
You might have heard about the N-Gage (Late 2003) already, as it was a post about the N-Gage that inspired this one, but it deserves a mention. Another unique phone from Nokia described best as having the “taco” form factor, it was Nokia’s attempt at a gaming system designed to replace the GBA. Spoiler alert, it didn’t. Part of the problem was that it required an SIM-card just to play games, which didn’t exactly give it a competitive edge, and it was just generally awkward to use- You had to take the battery out to switch games, which were stored on MMCs, and it used a position known as “Side-talking” for phone calls, which as the picture illustrates made you look like you’re talking on a pretzel.
The N-Gage QD was a huge improvement that fixed almost all of the larger issues but sadly the platform had already died.
The Whole Thing The 7000 series was.
The 7000 series was Nokia’s “Experimental” line, and given what Nokia did with their normal phones, you won’t be too surprised to learn that some of the craziest designs showed up here.
Now, to understand the Nokia 7600 (Late 2003), you have to understand what was happening to Nokia at the time. Basically, the only place on earth Nokia wasn’t doing well in was North America. The money was rolling in and times were good, so they could do whatever they wanted- And that’s exactly what they did. Ladies and gentlemen, the 7600.
That’s right, a keypad around the screen. This is the single greatest piece of evidence for my theory that Nokia’s design process was simply an exercise in applied combinatorics.
So you thought the 7600 was weird, and you’d be right. But the design of the 7380 (Late 2005) was really on a new level, the only phone that I genuinely could not figure out. Those were bad drugs.
It’s this stick thing with a mirror and a camera on it. You turn it on and the mirror turns into the screen. Oh, and you control it with this sort of click wheel thing. It’s really in the top of the Weirdest Phones I ever saw. Still, it won a design award in 2004. What?
The 7700 (Announced late 2003) was never actually released, but it was notable because it was Nokia’s first touchscreen phone and maybe a predecessor to modem touchscreen smartphones. It didn’t feature multi-touch, had side-talking like the N-Gage and looked like you had stolen someone’s in-car-entertainment system, but was nonetheless a milestone for Nokia. The phone was canceled and then replaced by the 7710 which corrected a few of the 7700’s design flaws.
The N90 (Mid 2005) was the first of the “N” series of phones, phones centered around media and entertainment. It’s strange feature was that it was comprised of three rotating pans. I’ll leave the explanation to the pictures.
The N93 was also twisty-fumy based The N91, by the standard of other Nokia phones, wasn’t the strangest, but I’m including it here because it’s the only phone I know of that actually had a hard drive. They really did try everything.
So now you know why Apple has done so well. Nokia did all of the market research for them; Apple just picked the design that Nokia hadn’t done. Now ends the freak show, on to a little rant.
A teeny-tiny Rant
With all that out of their way, you know Nokia had to come up with something that didn’t look like it was designed for use in a Dick Tracy comic. In late 2011 that’s just what they did with the N9.
Truly a minimalist phone. It was the first one ever to have an interface that worked elegantly despite not having a single button on the front. It made multitasking on Android (Or i0S) with or without front-facing buttons feel like driving a hippopotamus. And, ran an open-source operating system co-developed by Nokia and Intel, MeeGo, that was fresh and fluid. Using the touchscreen felt like dipping your fingers into the dark glassy surface of a crystal-clear pond at daybreak. Sales figures were through the roof despite its availability being limited to certain countries.
Naturally, Nokia killed the device. Everyone on the project got fired, slapped three buttons on the front and called it the Lumia 800. Nokia’s first Windows Phone. The ex-employees started their own company, Jolla. Rant over.
Elope you enjoyed the freak show and accompanying rant.
That’s all for this list of the Weirdest Phones made by Nokia, If you liked this article, please check some others.
This list of the Weirdest Phones was first found on Reddit and posted with his/her permission.