Short reviews of all 10 phones I’ve owned since the year 2000.
Full show notes: https://www.thejaymo.net/2021/03/06/301-2109-the-phones-ive-known/
Permanently moved is a personal podcast 301 seconds in length, written and recorded by @thejaymo
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The Phones I’ve Known
I try to write for 40mins about ‘whatever’ every morning before I start work proper. Recently I decided to write about all the phones I’ve ever owned; describe them, and then see what I remembered about them without looking up the photo.
The text below is a semi-edited version of what emerged across two 40min writing sessions.
The audio version of this post above has much tighter editing as to come in under 1k words. I won’t be doing an expanded version of a podcast’s script again – it’s too much work. But this exercise has taught me a bit more about clarity and economy I suppose.
Ericsson T28 – 2000
It is the year 2000, I was about 15 years old.
I remember it was a frigid cold cold day on Margate Highstreet and my Mum took me to phones4u to get a phone ‘for emergencies’. The blowers above the door made the phone shop hot and unbearably stuffy. The phone shop man up-sold my mum and I came out with an Ericsson T28 flip phone with an eye watering contract with just 50 free text messages a month.
Over spending on this contract became a common source of friction between me and my parents who were paying the bill. A situation that I now feel remorse for.
The body of the phone was dark blue, almost verging on stone grey. It’s small dot matrix screen glowed with a pale turquoise blue light from the future.
Like all phones of the period it had a large black aerial at the top of the device that wore holes in the pockets of all my jeans and shorts.
The phone was so small, its screen would only show 2 lines of text. So absolutely useless for texting. It also didn’t support text chains from people with Nokias. Messages going over the break would also often come in out of order.
The back of the phone was completely flat with black removable battery housed inside a gun metal surround. The plastic of the phone’s keypad smelt of orange citrus when charging. I can still mentally conjure the sensation of its spring-loaded latch to release the ‘flip’.
This phone represents teenage me texting in the dark late at night, overwhelmed with anxiety and complex emotion.
Siemens SL42 – 2002
I was in 6th Form in 2002.
16 and 32mb MP3 players were just appearing on the market at the time. When I got the Siemens SL42, it was exciting and caused quite the stir in the common room.
As It was the first ever mobile phone with expandable memory and the first with an on board MP3 player.
Unfortunately, the proprietary headphones the phone required were for 17 year old me – out of my price range. So I never got a pair. the money I did have went on guitars, Warhammer, Star Wars toys and cigarettes and booze.
It was a funny little silver phone with an Orange backlight shaped like a soap bar. I din’t have any games and the menu buttons above the T9 input grid had a central D-Pad button with other controls like petals of a half open flower around it .
Much to my chagrin I spent the tail end of the Napster era with Mp3s, and an Mp3 player. But with no means of actually listening to them on the go
Sony Ericsson T105 – 2004
I went to a phone shop in St Lawrence, Thanet with my Dad after work one day at Ramsgate Leisure Centre. I told the guy I wanted something small and I came away with the greatest phone of all time.
El Classico as it is still known amongst my friends to this day.
Absolutely tiny. About the size of a credit cards long edge in height and about 2/3s its width. This phone would fit comfortably in the watch pocket of the mid 2005s bootcut jeans
A tiny small perfect object.
Square, and white with rubberized orange piping long its edge. Clear T9 buttons with orange text. A brilliant future blue screen backlight. The screen for its entire life had a smiley pixelated stickman staring out from what we would now call the ‘home screen’. Indestructible, a week of battery life, and displayed 4 rows of text on screen.
After I was done with it, my best friend used it for years, and later his yunger brother. El Classico.
Sony Ericsson W810i Black – 2006
My first phone with a camera and a full colour screen. The Sony Ericsson W810i a chunky black candybar with orange detailing.
I ordered for delivery from my friends desktop computer as I didn’t have one at the time.
It’s from this point onward that my Google photos timelines begins to be more populated. Grainy postage stamp images of nights out, moments, and memories from my early 20’s.
It also played MP3s the first truly smart phone I owned.
I remember having experimental Japanese rock band OOIOO’s 2006 album Taiga on this phone.
I also remember using the track Mammut from pagan noise band OVO’s album Miastenia as my 4.50am alarm clock, no wonder my GF at the time broke up with me.
I am incredibly grateful to this phone. I have moments from nearly half a life ago at my fingertips still.
Sony Ericsson W880i 2007
In 2007 it was time to upgrade. I got the W880i.
A Walkman Branded phone defined by its thinness. Again it was a black phone with orange detailing. The buttons had a raised nubbins that would leave a dent in your thumbs if you were texting for the first time.
This is the phone I listened to Burial’s Untrue on repeat on night busses all over London.
Its 2.0-megapixel camera was a significant upgrade over the 810i. The photos from this period of my life look fine on screen still today. It had a crappy 3G web browser, that for a long time was how I used Facebook and early Twitter. I didn’t have a computer at the time so this was my only access to the internet.
Its body was made of metal. One of the downsides of its thinness was that after a while it became permanently bent/curved from being in the pocket of my jeans all the time. Eventually the screen stopped working unless I pressed the phone down hard on a flat surface.
I used it this way for months.
HTC Magic – May 2009
In 2009 I got the second ever Android phone on release day the HTC magic.
It was medical grade white, shaped like a suppository. It also had (the now much missed) Android device chin. It also had a roller ball for fine mouse input like a BlackBerry that would blink different colours, depending on the type of notification.
The camera was another step up as it had an autofocus, but compared to that years iPhone it wasn’t anything special.
To be honest Android was an experimental hot mess back then and buggy as hell. The version I had shipped with an OS that was pre 1.6 doughnut. It was slow and a hunk of garbage.
But I loved it despite the battery life being terrible.
Here’s a pic of me with the phone shooting the pixelated garbage video below:
HTC Desire Z – November 2010
The HTC Desire Z. The perfect smart phone. I Fit perfectly in the hand, large but not too big. As thick as the W810i.
A design unsurpassed even in our current age of dull black chunks of glass.
This phone was amazing, perfect. It also had an optical mouse square replacing the rollerball on the magic.
The Desire Z had a full sized landscape QWERTY keyboard that would pop up and out on its patented Z Hinge.
Perfect. Wonderful phone.
I wrote a good chunk of my first ever NanoWriMo on this phone. I must have put at least 20,000 words in to a Google doc via my phone laying on my bed that first month. It also meant I began a daily diary.
New phone could now record 720p video and at the time I was a heavy QIK user and loved early live streaming experiments over 3G. Friends weddings, gigs all sorts.
Sadly, my Desire Z died by being dropped less than an inch to the ground. I had bent down to do up my shoelace whilst on holiday in Florence, Italy
RIP Desire Z. Your keyboard is much missed. <3
Samsung S4 – 2013
To replace the Desire Z I got a Samsung S4 in white in 2013. A solid phone for me that pulled its weight and met all the demands I put upon it.
Android was less crap by now and the camera was fine. I really don’t have that much to say about it.
HTC M9 – 2015
I got the HTC M9 delivered to work on launch day in 2015.
I was unhappy with it from the moment I took it out the box. It was the first phone I’ve owned that I thought was was too big.
It’s 5” screen made even bigger by the top and bottom bezels containing its speaker grills.
Honestly this phone was ok, it was shiny and new, faster and better than the Samsung S4. But very soon after I got it the phone’s USB PCB burnt out one night. I woke up one morning to the smell of electrical burning.
So I went back to my S4 for over a year. Like I said, the S4 met all the demands I put on it. Some time later I bought a replacement microboard on ebay. I took it the the guy on the highstreet and he had it all fixed up within the hour.
I used to play a tamagotchi like game called Hatchi on this phone. The first notification I got after turning it on after the repair was that lil malcolm had died. So sad.
I still use this phone on occasion for it’s decent camera. If I ever livestream making/painting Warhammer on twitch it’ll be in use as a second angle.
Pixel 3 – October 2018
In October of 2018 I got the Pixel 3 in black from the Google store. It is also the first phone I’ve ever bought out right. Having now moved to a sim only deal, every month I continue to use it means that it was a better and better deal.
I bought the Pixel 3 just for its camera. I used it all around Asia and Australia and it take some lovely photos. But having just bought a the Sony ZV1. I realise that smart phone cameras really aren’t as good as you think they are.
The Pixel 3 is probably the best Android phone over all in terms of software and hardware integration. But it looses all its points for being too big and not having a keyboard.
It’s interesting that the two main features that remember most about all these phones is the ability to play music and take photos.
With those things now well and truly solved the only thing I care about now is having physical keyboard.
Just make phones smaller and twice as thick for goodness sake!
Who cares about a folding screen, bring back buttons, give me a keyboard?
I lament the state of so called innovation in the squares of dark glass we have today.
RIP Desire Z. Love to El Classico.