In 1973, Motorola showed off a prototype of the world's first portable cellular telephone. That phone, which measured more than a foot long, weighed almost 2 pounds, and cost $3995, ultimately became commercial available in 1983. Known as the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, its battery could provide 1 hour of talk time, and its memory could store 30 phone numbers. It may not have been pretty, but it did let you talk while on the go--if you could lift it, that is.
$900, BellSouth/IBM Simon Personal Communicator
A cell phone with added PDA functions isn't news today. But in 1993, it was a novel idea. The Simon Personal Communicator, jointly marketed by IBM and BellSouth, was the first mobile phone to add PDA features. It was a phone, pager, calculator, address book, fax machine, and e-mail device in one package, albeit a 20-ounce package that cost $900.
$1000, Motorola StarTAC
This tiny, lightweight phone ushered in the concept that style was just as important, ultimately paving the way for today's sleek-looking phones like the Motorola Razr. This 3.1-ounce clamshell-style phone, which could easily be clipped to a belt, was the smallest and lightest of its time. In fact, it was smaller and lighter than many of today's teeny-tiny cell phones and it cost $1000 at that time.
$900, Nokia 6160
In the late 1990s, Nokia's candybar-style cell phones were all the rage. Sporting a monochrome display, an external antenna, and a boxy, 5.2-inch tall frame, the Nokia 6160 was the company's best-selling handset of the 1990s. It retailed for $900 back in 1998.
$475, Nokia 7110
Flash forward another year and we get the Nokia 7110, which was lusted after by many geeks who saw it used in The Matrix. This $500 phone was the first to bring mobile web browsing to the market. The Nokia 7110 was the first mobile phone to run Series 40 and to come with a WAP browser.
$180-$400, Handspring Treo 180
Back when Palm and Handspring were still rivals, Handspring made waves with the Treo 180. More PDA than phone, the Treo 180 came in two versions: one with a QWERTY keyboard for typing (pictured), and another (the Treo 180g) that used Graffiti text input instead. Like the Kyocera QCP6035, it featured a monochrome screen, but boasted 16MB of memory.
$500, BlackBerry 5810
Before the BlackBerry 5810 came along in early 2002, Research In Motion's devices were best known for their data capabilities: Push e-mail technology, Organizer features, and thumb keyboards. The 5810--the first BlackBerry to offer voice capabilities--changed that perception. This device added a GSM cell phone to the package, albeit one that required the use of a headset (it lacked both a speaker and a microphone).
$400, Sanyo SCP-5300
Today, most cell phones come with a built-in camera. But, just a few years ago, a camera phone was hard to come by. In 2002, Sanyo and Sprint debuted the Sanyo SCP-5300 PCS phone, which they claimed was the first mobile phone available in America with a built-in camera. (A camera phone from Sharp had been available in Japan for a few years.) At its highest resolution, it captured VGA (640 by 480) images--a far cry from today's 5-megapixel camera phones like the Nokia N95.
$350, Motorola Razr
It promised to bring together the best of two worlds: Apple's excellent iTunes music player and Motorola's cell phone design expertise. The Motorola Rokr, released in September 2005, was the first music phone to incorporate Apple's music software. It allowed users to transfer songs purchased from iTunes to the phone for listening on the go. Unfortunately, users found song transfers to be painfully slow, and many were stymied by the 100-song limit imposed on their music collections.
$199, BlackBerry Pearl
Research In Motion continued its efforts to shed its strictly-business image with the consumer-friendly Pearl. This phone, with its slim design and SureType keyboard, looked the part. It went further than the 7100t, however: the Pearl was the first BlackBerry to include a camera and an audio/video player. Combine these multimedia features with BlackBerry's excellent e-mail service, and you have one impressive device
After months of speculation and rumors, Apple confirmed the news in January: The company does indeed plan to launch a cell phone. The device, which is expected to be available from AT&T/Cingular in June, will feature an innovative design: it lacks a numeric keypad. Instead, it will feature a touch-sensitive screen. The iPhone will also reportedly include a 2-megapixel camera, the ability to sync your iTunes collection to the phone, and it will run Mac OS X.
$179, HTC Dream(G1)
HTC Dream, or G1, which brought Android to the market and kicked off the current smartphone battle that brings us better and better phones. Prices have finally dropped to $300 and $200 for high end phones. The HTC Dream is an Internet-enabled smartphone with an operating system designed by Google and hardware designed by HTC. It was the first phone on the market to use the Android mobile device platform.
$199, Samsung Epic Phone 4G
The Samsung Galaxy S is an Android smartphone that was announced by Samsung in March 2010. It features a 1 GHz ARM "Hummingbird" processor, 8–16 GB internal Flash memory, a 4-inch 480×800 pixel Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display, Wi-Fi connectivity, a 5-megapixel camera with a maximum resolution of 2560x1920 and, on select models, a front-facing 0.3 MP VGA camera (640x480). The base version of the phone, the GT-I9000, was quickly followed by variant models for the US carriers such