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Do you remember your first phone? We look back on our early mobiles

Pile of smartphones
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Maxx-Studio)

Forget the iPhone 12 Pro Max, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro, and come take a trip down memory lane with the TechRadar team, as we look back and remember our first mobile phones.

We'd love to hear about your first phones too, so tweet us @TechRadar and use the hashtag #MyFirstPhone to tell us all about your first handset.

So from Siemens, Ericsson, Samsung and Motorola, through to a whole host of Nokias, these are the TechRadar team's first phones.

Motorola T180

John McCann, Global Managing Editor

Motorola T180

Launched in 2000, the Motorola T180 was my first mobile phone. I remember walking with my dad to the phone store round the corner from my house to pick it out. It was a birthday gift, but I was given a strict budget which put the Nokia 3310 - the phone I really wanted - off limits, so I had to settle for this little “volt blue” (as Moto called it) beauty. There were no games, but I did have 11 ringtones to choose from and a battery that lasted DAYS. A year later, I would go on to nab a 3310 and marvel in the delights of Snake.

Nokia 5110

Gareth Beavis, Global Editor in Chief

Nokia 5110

This phone from 1998 was a hand-me-down from my Dad, who upgraded to the simply-breathtaking Nokia 7110, with a scroll wheel and 'massive' screen. While dejected about how 'old' mine was, the 5110 was a brilliant phone for texting, playing Snake (the original and best version) and - in the late '90s - still marvelling at the notion of something that allowed you to take calls on the go. I 'improved' it with a chrome front plate, yellow power button and an antenna that crackled with light any time a text message or phone call was on its way in… in fact, I still wish that last feature was on new smartphones now. 

Nokia 3310

Cat Ellis, Fitness and Wellbeing Editor

Nokia 3310

Like many millennials, my first phone was this near-indestructible brick of a handset that could survive all the knocks and drops a clumsy teenager could inflict. Its original X-Press On cover was soon replaced with one featuring (what I believed to be) a rather cool glow-in-the-dark tribal pattern, and I spent many hours painstakingly programming in custom ringtones one note at a time to recreate tinny monophonic versions of Westlife's greatest hits. I may have also sent my parents the occasional text message, but that wasn't really the point. It was a phone and, like boy bands and tribal tattoos, phones were cool. 

Motorola D460

Carrie-Ann Skinner, Homes Editor

Motorola D460

In 1998 my parents decided I was ready for my first mobile phone - the Motorola D460. As I was still in education, my dad was footing the bill, which meant it wasn't the Nokia 3110 I coveted so badly, and I was going to be in serious trouble if I exceeded the 15-minute monthly call allowance. It was a brick of a phone, and the telescopic aerial was so flimsy, I was scared of breaking it, but it was all mine. It was even better once my best friend got a mobile phone on the same network so we were able to send the occasional text message to each other, too. 

Nokia 3210

Mark Wilson, Cameras Editor

Nokia 3210

While I'd like to say my first phone was the Nokia N80 (which had a mind-blowing 480p video camera), that stunner actually came after my original 'mobile': the reliable and almost shamefully dull Nokia 3210. In my defence, this was in 1999 just before phones became way more interesting, and I was a poor university student. Back then, phones also didn't really have to do a lot more than deliver the revolutionary concept of letting you text someone in the room next door. But the 3210 did also bring big benefits to my uni life beyond Snake: it was basically apocalypse-proof and had a battery that seemed to last for an entire semester.    

Nokia N73

Daryl Baxter, Software & Downloads Writer

Nokia N73

It was 2006, and during Sixth Form (Freshman year) it was decided that it would be best for me to have a phone. Even back then, I wanted something that could do more than call and text. The N73 had an FM radio, a web browser, a RealPlayer app and an MP3 player. It had it all. Even games in color. I remember it having a great 'slide-on' feature for the camera, so once the lens was exposed, it would launch straight into the camera app. It was useful, it had a great battery, and it took 2MP shots with ease.

Nokia 3315

Sharmishta Sarkar, Senior Editor (APAC) 

Nokia 3315

The circumstances under which I got my first mobile phone was, well, trying to say the least. My parents were in a serious car crash and I was in another part of the country. While they were well looked after till I got to them, we realized it was best I had a phone with me at all times. It was 2003. Growing up in India, mobiles were a luxury item in the early 2000s that cost too much to justify, but needs must. And so a silver Nokia 3315 came into my life – traveling through the jungles of South India while I chased monkeys (yes, I was a primatologist for a brief period in my life), until 2008 when I moved over to the rather sleek Nokia N76 that had a color display and EDGE support! 

Siemens A50

Matt Hanson, Senior Computing Editor

Siemens A50

When I left for university in 2002, one of my parents (I forget which) got me a Siemens A50 so that I can keep in contact with them (didn't happen) and they could check that I survived (which, remarkably, did happen, despite my diet of microwavable lasagnas, frozen roast dinners and vodka, and is why I'm not writing this as a ghost). I don't remember much about the phone, but it did have some fancy monochrome animations and a few rubbish games. I also set my voice mail message to a five minute recording of one of my housemates giggling, which confused and upset my grandparents. It had a tiny screen with a resolution of 101 x 64 pixels, a far cry from the huge screen of the phone I use at the moment (the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, which remains an awesome phone years after its release, and has meant I have no desire to upgrade any time soon). One thing that I do miss about it is its frankly ridiculous 250 hour stand-by time. Only having to charge your phone every couple of days is sadly a thing of the past, it seems. 

Ericsson T10

Stephen Lambrechts, Senior Journalist – Phones and Entertainment (APAC)

Ericsson T10

My first phone was an Ericsson T10. It was a very funky purple flip phone and I treasured it immensely (I had typed the Ghostbusters theme song in as its ringtone, after all). Less than a week into owning it, I made the mistake of leaving it on a counter at a friend's house. Within ten minutes of being there, his very naughty (but still lovable) doggo had snatched the phone from said counter and used it as a chew toy. Though the antenna was absolutely destroyed, unscrewing and replacing it was thankfully very easy. The rest of the phone, however, sported a number of indentations, scratches and chew marks until the end of its days. Lesson learned! 

Nokia 3310

Henry St Ledger, Home Cinema Editor

Nokia 3310

Like some other TechRadar staffers, my smartphone journey began with the original Nokia 3310: a sturdy, basic brick phone with a stamp-sized screen and hard plastic casing. At the age of 13, though, it was incredible to suddenly be able to contact any and everyone at the touch of a button – not that I really called anyone, having a 13 year old's attention span and often leaving the phone in a drawer for several days. I did, however, get very good at Snake. The best part of the 3310 may have been the transparent case that came with it, allowing me to cut up a Simpsons comic for some cartoon bling surrounding the screen on all sides. (Again, 13.) 

Samsung Tocco Lite

Hamish Hector, Staff Writer 

Samsung Tocco Lite

I'd finally moved up to 'big school' and  my parents decided I could be trusted with my own, brand new phone. The Tocco Lite was this amazing device at first, the touch screen felt like a huge upgrade over the old flip phones I'd been allowed to borrow before. Now all I can really remember is how terrible that screen was; typing on it took ages yet the moment it was in my pocket it'd text all my contacts with random strings of characters and symbols. My mate once thought I was possessed after getting a few of those messages. 

Sony Ericsson Satio

Jess Weatherbed, Computing Writer

Sony Ericsson Satio

While I recall using a few of my parents hand-me-downs at school, the first mobile I actually owned that was my own from new was the Sony Ericsson Satio – the perfect companion for a young teenager who couldn't afford an iPhone. In fact, I thought it was considerably better than Apple's offering at the time, featuring an in-built MP3 player to play my favorite tunes (mostly a horrid mix of Scooter, Cascada and Slipknot) and a whopping 12MP camera. My selfie game was absolutely unrivaled, which was genuinely what sold little-Jess on the device. That is, of course, until it promptly went through the washing machine three weeks after my parents bought it for me. I was swiftly relegated back to using my mum's old Nokia 3310 until I could be trusted again. 

Motorola T180

Samuel Roberts, Senior Entertainment Editor

Motorola T180

Like John, this was my first phone, and I can still remember exactly how its squishy buttons felt under my thumb 20 years later. I didn't know much about phones at the time, and assumed that all of them came with Snake – which was the hot game on all playgrounds at the time. When I learned that it didn't, I was gently devastated, and would have to insist on playing Snake on my friends' phones to ensure I didn't feel like I missed out. I had the black version of the T180, and was so bored at the time that I'm pretty sure I wasted an entire Sunday re-recording my voicemail message for laughs. No one ever called, of course. I was 13. 

Samsung SPH-M2500

Gerald Lynch, Executive Editor

Samsung SPH-M2500

While the iPod was just a twinkle in Steve Jobs' eye, let alone the iPhone, Samsung was already exploring the potential of letting you house music on your mobile phone. With a whopping 32MB of of memory and an integrated MP3 player, the Samsung SPH-M2500 was blazing a trail letting you take your digital tunes on the go with you. Letting you put maybe eight or nine (eight or nine!) tracks on the device at any one time, you'd be lucky to fit a highly-compressed album on the handset, let alone your entire collection. But it was still a forward-thinking inclusion, and one that would become standard in years to come. The trouble was, despite being launched in 1999, I got the SPH-M2500 as a hand-me-down a good few years later. So while the cool kids were jamming an iPod full of thousands of songs, I was left with a crippled battery and the painstaking task of juggling my favorite dozen songs for the week ahead. Good times.

Motorola CDMA phone

Désiré Athow, Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Question Mark

My first phone was a CDMA model from Motorola. I don't recollect the actual series but given that it was around 1995 and in an African country, good luck finding it! It had a tiny monochrome screen, mushy buttons and was a candybar model. It was built like a tank though and would take a few hits and bumps over its short lifetime before. Calls were expensive back then - 1000 talk time minutes would cost around a month's salary - so it was used primarily for texting. No games, no video calls, life was simpler back then. 

LG C1100

Tom Bedford, Staff Writer

LG C1100

It feels like only last month I last wrote about my first ever phone, the LG C1100 - and that's because it was, when I wrote a eulogy for it after LG Mobile bit the dust. I look back at it fondly, though I also remember being really desperate to upgrade to a smartphone, so maybe it wasn't as good as I remember - I wish I could find the charger to find out. Oh well, I still love flip phones. 

Axel Metz, Staff Writer

LG Cookie

The LG Cookie – what can I say? The coolest bit of kit on the high school circuit back in 2010, Cookie owners were the envy of every flip-phone-toting, physical keyboard-clicking student during my formative years. Of course, in hindsight, the Cookie wasn't all that spectacular. In fact, LG used it to target the entry-level touchscreen market by keeping the cost of the device as low as possible. That scrimping resulted in a 3-inch, 240 x 400 pixel touchscreen powered by an ARM9E CPU with a clock rate of 175 MHz. It also had a 3.15 MP camera capable of capturing videos at 12 frame/s, and no flash option. Pretty impressive, right? No, not really, but the LG Cookie still occupies a space in the fond memories of millennials the world over. It may as well be renamed the LG Culture.

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