Last Updated: 12 Jul 2016

Pah! – kids of today will only have been born in 2000 and they don’t know what they were missing out on. Who needs smartphones when you had such a world of possibilities in the new millennium? Lest we forget, here’s a trip down memory lane if you owned a mobile phone in the year 2000.

1. A company called Nokia ruled the roost

Yep, kids of today will have little memory of Nokia dominating the market but in 1997 Nokia was just beginning to rule the world. Nokia produced some iconic handsets, including the 8310 which is apparently the modern drug dealers phone of choice.

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2. ‘Colour screens’ was a concept only known to silkscreen printers

Colour screens were but a novelty back on 2000. Most phones has a few lines of text and all in glorious black and white. Most of us just sat and looked at text messages on mobile screens for years. I know, amazing.

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3. Epic battery life was an actual reality

Much like Galadriel proclaiming that for several millennia the Ring of Power ‘passed out of all knowledge’ the same can be said for our memories of amazing battery life. The lack of wi-fi and apps like Facebook constantly pinging the network and draining your battery meant that a phone’s battery life was measured in days not hours. Whereas extra long battery life is sought after and often seen as the holy grail of modern mobile phones, truth is that we likely passed the nadir of battery existence some 15 years ago.


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4. Small was cool

Whereas there seems to be an insatiable desire for bigger and bigger phones in the form of the Nexus 6 and iPhone 6/6s Plus, the turn of the millennium was the complete opposite, where the trend seemed to move towards teeny-weeny little phones. Things just started getting really silly with phones like the Nokia 8210 that became a rave hit due to its Lilliputian size, but it also had the build quality of a 1970’s Communist bloc manufactured Trabant.


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5. Phones only made calls and sent text messages

We kid you not. There was once a time when people actually used to call each other on their mobile phones. Of course, the humble SMS was also riding high as an alternative means of communication, even if it cost 10p (15 cents) per text. If you wanted to keep a diary or do email you had a PDA (ahhhh Palm Pilot) or you have a CD player for your music or even a Diskman if you were really cutting edge. Watching TV and video was unfortunately confined to the latest 32 inch TV you likely had at home.  For maps you used a thing on this substance called paper. We know it’s all rather strange, but in 2000 most of the things you use your phone for now were done by some other device you owned. Just take a look at the Radio Shack advert below in which every single thing is now done by a mobile phone.


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6. Polyphonic ringtones were the very height of sound sophistication

At the turn of the millennium, it was all about the ringtone graduating from a monotone series of beeps (listen to them in all their glory here) to the multi-track funk known as polyphonic ringtones. This then spawned an entire industry of companies trying to sell you ringtones on some terribly exorbitant monthly subscription. Don’t just take our word on it – rock out to the polyphonic tones in this video.

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7. Clamshells were cool … the US

What’s a clamshell? We hear you ask. A clamshell was a phone that you had to flip open and shut to use. People would impressively terminate calls by slapping them shut with extra force to make a clear point. They never really took off with the Brits, but the Americans lapped them up for years and years, especially in the beloved TV show 24 which had people ‘patching’ through schematics to Jack’s cellphone and the entire cast running around expending most of their energy slamming their phones open and shut. Jack’s macho posturing ensured that he naturally slammed his shut the hardest.

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8. You had to use the keypad to use your phone

In the year 2000 all phones had this plastic collection of numbered keys under the screen called a ‘keypad’. Strangest of all, your mobile phone screen was just used for showing you stuff. You couldn’t touch it…….well you could but it would just make a strange LCD smudge and then hopefully return to normal.

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9. Mobile business was all about the Blackberry

Buy! Buy! sell! sell! If you were serious about business then you were serious about getting email no matter where you were, even whilst sitting on your sunbed on vacation. If modern angst about the excessively invasive nature of work email had any point of origin, then it surely must be with the good old Blackberry. It had executives so hooked on its simple ability to ‘push’ emails (which all our phones do now) at any time of the day that it spawned the moniker ‘crackberry’. All we’ve done now is add layer upon layer of angst to email on our modern mobiles in the form of chat and social media, truly ensuring that it’s not just business people checking for emails every few minutes.


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10. Snake was the height of mobile gaming sophistication

We may be gorging ourselves at the table of mobile game goodness that currently presents itself – with even the lowest handset able to enjoy a decent game of Candy Crush, but back in 2000 the height of gaming glory had you guiding a black line, sorry we mean a ‘snake’, round the screen gobbling up pixels and trying not to bump into your ever-increasing body. The only real reason that Snake was so big was that it was embedded by Nokia on pretty much all of its handsets. It was either that or reading a book on the train.


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