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A decade of cell phones

I got a new phone. It’s my first real smart phone, it has Android and two CPU cores. I like it. It’s an LG Optimus 2x and it looks like this:

I like it for having a Linux kernel, a big screen, a 3.5 mm earphone jack, convenient volume buttons, a slick design and because I can greatly expand its usefulness by installing apps. It’s not become a lifestyle though. The first Saturday after I got it, while waiting outside of a dressing room for someone to try on some new piece of clothing, I did not check my messages or Facebook wall. That’s not product dissatisfaction, I’m just really in control.

So I wanted to make a list of all the different cell phones I’ve owned. ‘Owned’ being off course a relative term (albeit decreasingly so in each case), since I got each one for free (also relative, increasingly, also inversely correlated with ‘owned’) with a subscription that would last for two years, after which the phone was more than fully paid.

KPN Pocketline Swing

My very first cell phone was the KPN Pocketline Swing (links to page in Dutch).

The `Swing’ was a very popular phone in the Netherlands at the time. It is the only one I used with a pre-paid subscription. My service provider was KPN-owned Hi, which was targeted at young people. I got the phone in January 2000, while away from home for the entire month. I remember the first thing I tried to find out about it was how to turn off the high-pitched beep at every key press. Apart from the extensible antenna for noticeably better reception I don’t remember much else. Its functionality was limited to making and receiving calls, text messaging, name/number storage and an alarm clock. But it was as cool a gadget as I’ve ever had.

Nokia 6210

When I got a new phone, I sold the Pocketline Swing, including its phone number. And for good reason. The law that enables you to take your phone number with you when switching service providers didn’t exist yet, and if I stayed with Hi I didn’t have a lot of options choosing my next phone. So I switched to Ben, which gave me a Nokia 6210.

Also targeted at young people, Ben was the ├╝bercool brand of the time. I believe the first name of the guy who founded it was Ben, and in Dutch, “ben” also translates to “I am”, which provided for lots of subtle advertising possibilities.  They were growing, but their coverage wasn’t very good when I first got this phone. I lived in Groningen then, and I remember only having reception in the down-town area. As soon as I crossed a bridge over the enclosing canal,  the connection was lost. Ben was bought by T-Mobile in 2002 as their way to get access to the Dutch market. They closed down the brand, but reinstated it in 2008.

A Nokia 6210 from Ben was what everybody in my demographic had. Apart from calling and text messaging, the user could compose his very own ring tones. I remember using the opening theme of Shostakovich’s Sixth string quartet as my ring tone, because we were rehearsing that at the time. And off course there was the very addictive game of Snake. I got pretty good at it. Obviously, because everyone was.


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Categorised as: a decade of phones, cool stuff, gadgets, lifestyle


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