This wasn’t just a custom job or something. Motorola actually sold these just like this and they did it on purpose. It’s all part of Gazelle’s photo essay, “The 7 Ugliest Phones Ever Made,” and I have to say that I agree. Some of these are out and out grotesque. Yeah, there’s one or two that just strike you odd because no one ever wanted a phone shaped like a carrot, but for the most part these are some of the most user unfriendly things anyone could think of and it really tells you about where phones were headed in the early 2000s.
The essay is old but things luckily haven’t gotten worse
The link will take you back to a blog post from 2013. I’m pleased to say I can’t think of any current phones that would knock these off the list. Of course, that’s because since about 2008 every single phone out there has looked almost identical. Sure, some are bigger. Some are smaller. There are phones where the camera bump is in a different place. But really they’re just black slabs with big glass fronts. That’s kind of what we all want now.
In the days before smartphones
Back then, it seemed like manufacturers had bottomed out. A phone, even the cheapest ones, had everything they thought you could want. Durable, cheap, with great battery life and reasonable customization. Nokia phones were famous (for being able to go through the washing machine or be dropped off tall buildings. Without any idea what else to give consumers, manufacturers tried to create new styles. Phones, after all, appealed to young people and young people wanted new looks. Or so the manufacturers thought.
Smartphones: good for utility, bad for interesting design
There was a quiet revolution brewing, though… brought to you first by companies like Palm and Blackberry. Combine the phone, they said, with internet access and then you’ll really have a device worth craving. Give people the ability to interact in new ways while away from the home or office and you’ll take the world by storm. Sure, those early smartphones were dorky and didn’t work well, but the idea was great and it didn’t take long for one company to sweep in and do it right.
Of course that company was Apple and whether the other manufacturers want to acknowledge it or not, every smartphone made today is really a variant of the original iPhone.Even today, even when Apple comes up with a questionable design decision everyone follows. Do you disagree? Take a look at this article from last year. Back then, Chinese manufacturers were falling all over themselves to clone Apple’s “notch.” This year they’re all trying to figure out how to go “notchless,” which is a trend that won’t take off until Apple does it. Probably.
Of course, all phones today look alike. Which makes you awfully glad, because if it hadn’t been for the coming of smartphones, manufacturers could have made phones that were even uglier. Not that I know how they’d do that.