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 unfriendlythings anyone could think of and it really tells you about where phones were headed in the early 2000s.

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.

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.

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.