The way we use our phones changes in baby steps. With each passing year we get a different core function and different designs, and it’s only when you compare devices a decade apart that you see just how far things have come.
I was home for Easter this weekend and I found my first phone through an old box of stuff. It’s a Nokia 5110, a phone which got handed down to me after my parents upgraded to a tech-filled Nokia 3310 (that had no external antenna and could vibrate; woah, sci-fi territory right there).
I went on a nostalgia trip and thought I’d bring you along. We’re going to pack my first phone and my current phone, the Nexus 6P, along for the ride. I’m not going anywhere near any specs and tech, it’s obviously like comparing apples to laser-robo-oranges from the future.
A phone’s daily use – 2000 vs 2016
Just at a glance you can tell that damn, the Nexus does a ton more stuff. With web browsing out of the question on the 5110, about 90% of the stuff I do on my phone nowadays were impossible 16 years ago, so this is quickly turning into the smallest scope review ever. And the things that are common ground between the two phones cannot be more different.
#1: Phone calls
Nowadays making a phone call is the most mundane thing you can imagine. Okay, most of us prefer texting, but you don’t give phone calls a second thought. Back then, calling was the way to communicate with a cell phone, and that had to be meticulously tracked as well.
I remember only having 60 free minutes per month and had to decide if a phone call was worth it and even if it was I had to keep it short.
Show of hands, how many of you hate autocorrect? I hate it so much that it’s been turned off for years on all my phones, and all for 1% of the words that it messes up.
After using the keyboard on my 5110 for a while it made me a lot more thankful for our current keyboards. Not only is the old system worse, but the delay between writing a single letter is agonizing.
Also, back then we only had texting. Now? Getting in touch with your friends is done through Hangouts, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Slack, Reddit, Steam… and I’m sure I’m forgetting a dozen other services.
The two games I usually play on my phone are Hearthstone and World of Tanks, and I’m not sure my computer would’ve been able to run either of these games when I had my Nokia 5110. Back then, playing games on your phone meant one thing and one thing only: Snake.
And back then, that was enough for me to spend dozens of hours of playtime. If you’re feeling nostalgic about the game you can use one of the many Android ports to get your fix.
#4: Phone care
I baby my phone so much that it’s barely got a scratch on it. After my previous smartphones (in particular the Nexus 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3) met the ground and got their screens shattered in a billion little pieces.
The Nokia 5110? I’ve not only dropped it, I’ve thrown it clear across rooms and it wasn’t any worse for wear. Back then, you only carried a phone in a case if you wanted a design change, otherwise you didn’t give it a second thought.
#5: Battery life
This is the one aspect where we’ve gone downhill. It used to be that I’d forget where I placed my charger and I’d only need to use it maybe once a week. Now, having a smartphone that lasts you through the day is a selling point, and it’s not uncommon to charge your phone during the afternoon, just to make sure you don’t run out of juice by the end of the day.
After playing around with my old phone for a couple of hours it made me realize one thing that we all know deep down: smartphones are now an extension of ourselves, whereas our first phones were most likely just that: phones. You kept it around to place a call, send a short text, and then forget about it.
I’m curious what my reaction will be 15 years from now when I stumble across my “old” Nexus 6P.
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December 12 2018