There are other websites that have tried to catalog the history of computers and phones. I love oldcomputers.net, and the library on phonearena.com is still eminently searchable. The new museum doesn’t appear to have many models after 2013, and as I’ve reflected on before, most of the phones since then are in a very similar, black slab style.
I’ve seen some interesting phones in my time. Phones with lipstick on them. Phones for cosmetics. Phones that resembled Shrek’s. Now, the astonishing Mobile Phone Museum, a virtual display from a team led by analyst Ben Wood, brings together all of history’s strangest phones, presenting more than 2,000 phones and many of their stories. I’ve seen Verizon’s and Samsung’s museums; what sets this one apart is the presentation. Each phone has been meticulously documented by Wood and his non-profit team, giving the impression that you can see and touch it. This is a far cry from the product photography we used to do back in the day. The museum is based in the United Kingdom, however it has a global library.
You’re inevitably going to find some phones not represented here. I remember the Firefly, a tiny lozenge for children, or and the horrifying Motorola Backflip with its rear-mounted touch pane, for instance. I think the collection is a bit slanted toward models available in the UK, although it’s still accepting donations.
But it’s full of rich and weird history; before they were just camera-festooned portals into cloud services, phones used to be more fun. There are several curated collections on the site; the most fun one is “Ugliest Phones,” where you get to read the disastrous story of Sierra Wireless’s Voq smartphone, for instance. Some other good stories from the site: There are other good folks doing great retro phone content, too. I’d point you to Dieter Bohn’s new documentary on smartphone innovator Handspring, and YouTuber Michael Fisher’s ongoing series of videos where he refurbishes and walks through the history of bizarre, older devices.
PCMag.com’s lead mobile analyst, Sascha Segan, has reviewed hundreds of smartphones, tablets and other gadgets in more than 9 years with PCMag. He’s the head of our Fastest Mobile Networks project, one of the hosts of the daily PCMag Live Web show and speaks frequently in mass media on cell-phone-related issues. His commentary has appeared on ABC, the BBC, the CBC, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, and in newspapers from San Antonio, Texas to Edmonton, Alberta. Segan is also a multiple award-winning travel writer, having contributed to the Frommer’s series of travel guides and Web sites for more than a decade. Other than his home town of New York, his favorite.
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