If you’re younger, then you probably have no idea just how far smartphones have come since the early 1980s when they were the size of laptops. Everything’s changed; from the glossiness of the screen, to the size of the chassis and even the overall design.

In fact, the consumer is most happy that the phone has become affordable – unlike several decades’ ago, when only well-off businessmen would walk around with the large device. From the Motorola DynaTAC to the sophisticated iPhone 8 Plus, there have been some significant improvements.

Cell Phones of the 1980s

There’s a reason why the Motorola’s of the recent past weren’t called smartphones: they were large, unwieldy and not very smart. The DynaTAC 8000X of 1983, for example, wasn’t even very portable by conventional standards – you’d have needed a briefcase for it. There was no screen to speak of – just an LCD strip that read the numbers as you dialed them in. The Super AMOLED screens were still a solid 25 years away.

Nokia Ushers in 1994 With a Real Cell Phone

By the 1990s, there still wasn’t that much demand for the cell phone; at least, certainly not enough to warrant the making of SnapDragon processors and dual-core load handlers. However, Nokia started making strides in design and portability with the first cell phone that could actually be placed inside your pant’s pocket.

Motorola improved on the design a few years later, when in 1996 the digital products company produced a flip phone with an actual display screen. The screen was, of course, extremely modest by today’s standards – but that is to be expected.

Before the 1990s were out, Nokia would produce the first modern smartphone with the 9000 Communicator. It had a processor that was modeled on an actual desktop computer, with a mini keyboard attached to the bottom half. The screen even looked like a small desktop.

The Early 2000s and Beyond

The free market economies of both Finland and Sweden were producing competitive cell phones at a breakneck pace; with every generation a marked improvement over the last. In 2000, the Ericsson R380 (Sweden) debuted with its decidedly portable size and fast processor.

Nokia (Finland) answered with the Nokia 3310, which would go on to sell almost 150 million models throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Ericsson responded with the R320, which sported an actual Internet browser in its most rudimentary form. Together, these companies proved that competition is the engine that drives robust economies.

The Modern Smartphone Competition

In 2008, Apple launched the iPhone 3G after its early forays into the cell phone market. In an original marketing scheme, the House that Jobs Built linked the release of the phone with a robust selection of applications from the Apple Store, which heightened the public’s desire for the phone over the Android competition at the time. The screen was a pure beauty, crisp, clear and elegant while also being minimal. It filled the width and height of the phone, giving the user more real estate than any other phone before that time.

Android and Apple iOS Continue the Battle

Although there are other competitors, most of them – with the exception of the declining Blackberry – use the Android or iOS operating systems for their smartphones. The screens and processors are better and more powerful than ever before, with Samsung tablets and phones battling it out with Apple’s iPhones year-after-year as we near the 2020s. Consumers have their pick of these high-powered devices, and the call for ever more improvements makes it clear that we’ve just scratched the surface when it comes to the power of the smartphone.

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