The Evolution of Smartphones from the First Smartphone Ever to Modern Day Smartphones

by Alex Burnstein
9 minutes read
The First Smartphone Ever

Smartphones have become the essential need of almost everyone in today’s technology driven world. The smartphone revolution completely changed our lifestyles. Handheld smartphones devices have had a revolutionary impact on our lives and the way we interact with each other. Contrary to popular belief, smartphones have existed way before they became a mainstream commodity. Ironically, some people still believe that the iPhone 2G was the first smartphone ever made.

But what most people are not aware of is the fact that the first smartphone ever was built in 1992 by IBM(International Business Machines). Since smartphones are a subject of fascination for many around the world; the phone geeks at TFN decided to hit the smartphone history archive to bring our readers with some fascinating facts about the evolution of smartphones.

What was the First Smartphone Ever Produced ?

Being an avid phone geek myself , this question has crossed my mind many times and i’m assuming it has crossed yours too.Upon research i discovered that the first smartphone ever produced dates back to 1992, which is quite surprising.Enter the IBM Simon Personal Computer the ‘very first smartphone’.

IBM – Simon Personal Communicator

IBM’s Simon was the first ever handheld device that too with a touchscreen and in the year 1994. The phone was assembled by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. BellSouth Cellular Corp. and engineered by IBM (International Business Machines Corp.). The Prototype of the phone called “Angler” was showcased on November 23, 1992 at the COMDEX computer and technology trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States.

The First Smartphone Release Date:

The IBM Simon Personal Computer was released in United States between August 1994 and Feburary 1995, selling 50,000 units and the first PDA with telephonic features. The price of the device was $899 USD, with a service contract and $1099 without a contract and later the price was dropped to $599 with two year contract.

For a device for that age it was packed with pretty neat features. The phone not only allowed making and receiving phone calls but also facsimiles, emails, cellular pages, calendar, address book, notepad and several other applications such as maps, stocks and news. However, with the battery lasting only an hour and flip phones quickly gaining popularity for their compact size, the device was soon discontinued but is considered the “First Smartphone Ever” based on its features.

The First Smartphone Features:

The phone provided its users the ability to making and receiving phone calls, fax, emails, cellular pages, calender, address book, notepad, appointment scheduler, calculator, world time clock, electronic notepad, handwritten annotations and a standard predictive stylus input screen keyboard.


The phone came with two nickle-cadmium batteries, charging base and a leather cover for protection.

The phone also came with some optional accessories such as PCMCIA pager card by Motorola, an RS232 adapter cable for linking the device to your PC to access files from there and an RJ11 adapter cable which allowed you to make voice and data calls over plain ordinary telephone service lines.


CPU: NEC V30HL, 16MHz, 16-bit

Memory: 1 MB

Storage: 1 MB NOR Flash, 2 MB by Stacker

Operating System: Datalight ROM-DOS

Battery: 7.5V Ni-Cad

Display: 4.5″ x 1.4″, 160 x 293 pixels CGA monochrome backlit LCD

Data Inputs: Microphone, Touchscreen with stylus

Connectivity: 2400-bps Hayes compatible modem

Weight: 510 grams

The release of the IBM SIMON Personal Computer sparked a new hype for smartphone development.Shortly after the release of the IBM Simon Personal Computer; Hewlett Packard released the second smartphone device known as the OmniGo 700LX/HP 200LX

Hewlett-Packard OmniGo 700LX/HP 200LX

The Hewlett-Packard PDA, the OmniGo 700LX later modified to HP 200LX was released in August 1994. The hand-held was commonly called Palmtop PC. The phone was compatible with MS-Dos while offering a full QWERTY keyboard, monochromatic display a serial port and PCMCIA expansion slot, hence earning the name “Palmtop PC.”

The built-in software suite includes Lotus spreadsheet, a calendar, phone book, Lotus Mail, multi-purpose calculator, and a terminal. The suite is accessible through the device’s ROM. It also has the capability of running the Microsoft Windows 3.0, by adding a large compact flash and a serial mouse.


OS: MS-Dos 5.0

CPU: Hornet 7.91 MHz (overclockable to 15.8 MHz)

Memory: 1,2,4 MB RAM

Storage: SRAM, ATA Flash, Compact Flash. 2 GB with third-party driver.

Display: CGA 640 x 200 monochrome

Battery: 2x AA size Ni-Cad removable and rechargeable batteries, optional AC adapter with up to 30-40 hours of run-time on 2x AA batteries.


After the release of the Hewlett-Packard OmniGo 700LX/HP 200LX in 1994, the smartphone market experienced a period of dormancy until the year 2000 when Ericsson launched the R380

Ericsson R380:

Ericsson R380 was released in November 2000 and regarded as  the first proper smartphone device by many . This phone was appointed as the most important advances in science and technology by Popular Science magazine in 1999.

The device featured a black and white touchscreen with a stylus which was partially covered by a flip-able keypad and ran the EPOC 5.1 Symbian Operating System, becoming the first Symbian device ever. This phone was priced around $700.


Display: Monochrome

Memory: No card slots, holds up to 99 contacts

Battery: Removable NiMH battery, 150h standby time and 4h talk time

Another smartphone of the early 2000’s that created a big hype was the Danger Hiptop.

Danger Hiptop:

The widely popular phone during the early 2000s, the Danger Hiptop was designed by Flextronics and were in partnership with T-Mobile and as such was later re-branded as T-Mobile Sidekick with several other versions being released as well.

The phone was sold by T-Mobile in the U.S, UK, Germany and Austria but was discontinued due to the popularity of its competitor, BlackBerry.


OS: Danger OS

Display: 240 x 160 pixels

Battery: 60h Stand-by time, 4h talk time

Connectivity: USB, Infrared


The first BlackBerry device was introduced in 1999, the RIM 850 and 857. It was in 2002 that it commonly became to be known as BlackBerry after they released their first smartphone.

BlackBerry focused more towards the business aspect and usage due to which they gained a significant market share by focusing on the push email and emails in general along with support for text messaging , internet faxing and web browsing.

Originally, BlackBerry had the same monochromatic display and with the advancement in technology, its newer models got the colored display. Similarly, the navigation system which was previously achieved by a scroll wheel mounted on the right side of the device, was changed after the 8700 series to a 4-way scrolling trackball, adopted first in the Pearl series.

At its peak, Blackberry had 85million subscribers worldwide till 2013 and fell to 23million in March 2016 due to market dominance by Apple’s Iphone and Android devices.


Outside of the U.S, Nokia gained dominance in European market by releasing its Symbian OS based smartphones. The company focused on the business aspect through the popular Eseries phone, which were similar to Blackberry’s phone. Later, the company launched consumer based series of phone with focus on entertainment, the Nseries. The Nseries was dominant till 2010 with Symbian being the most used OS of the time.


The series was announced on October 12, 2005, with the release of E60, E61 and E70. Then in year 2006, announced E50 to the series by specifically calling it a “business device” rather than a “smartphone.”

Nokia E60 Specifications:

CPU: 220 MHz Dual ARM 9

OS: Symbian OS 9.1, Series 60 UI

Memory: 64 MB, 64 MB RAM

Display: 2.1 inch, 352 x 416 pixels, 16M colors

Battery: Li-Ion 970 mAh battery, Stand-by 290h, Talk time 6h 40m

Features: SMS, MMS, Email, Instant Messaging, Document Viewer, Organizer, Printing


The multimedia high-speed devices launched by Nokia in 2005 with the release of the popular N70. Since this was an entertainment based series so it had features like Digital multimedia, music playback, gaming, internet and photo/video capturing, editing and viewing.

N70 Specifications:

CPU: 220 MHz

OS: Symbian OS 8.1a, Series 60 UI

Memory: 22MB, 64MB expandable

Battery: Removable Li-Ion 970 mAh batter, 265h stand-by, 3h 30min talk time

Features: SMS, MMS, Email, Instant Messaging, Web Browsing WAP 2.0, Photo Editor, Xpress-on covers

Apple iPhone 2G:

In 2007, with the launch of Apple’s very first iPhone the phone market was revolutionized with the features and capabilities it brought to the table.

From the conventional keypads and QWERTY keyboards, Apple took it to next levels by presenting a large capacitive touchscreen with on-screen QWERTY keyboard and supportive multi-touch gestures.

Due to the large size of the screen, the phone featured a web browser designed to fully rendered web pages, multimedia functionality and Google Maps, which made the device more than just a phone or PDA.

The did receive criticism for not supporting 3G network and installation of third-party applications. However, it was the most popular phone of 2007 with people waiting in long queues outside the Apple store just to get their hands on one.

2007 iPhone 1 Specifications:

CPU: 412 MHz ARM 11



Display: TFT Capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 3.5” Corning Gorilla Glass, 320 x 480 pixels

Storage: 4/8/16

Battery: Stand-by 250h, Talk time 8h, Music play 24h

Features: Accelerometer and Proximity sensors, SMS (threaded view), Email, Safari browser, Google maps, TV-out, predictive text input

What was The First Android Phone Ever Produced?

After Apple made a loud noise with the launch of their iPhone and iOS operating system, it opened doors for another OS platform now more popular, called the Android.

HTC was the first company to make use of Android OS for their phone the HTC Dream making it the very first android smartphone. The Android OS became a strong competitor to an already dominated market by Symbian, Blackberry OS and the iOS. Due to it being linux based open source OS it offered numerous amounts of customization integrated with Google’s services and is currently the most used OS worldwide.

HTC Dream The First Android Smartphone:

The phone offered a slider QWERTY keyboard with touchscreen and trackball trackball navigation.


OS: Android OS 1.4 (Donut)

CPU: 528 MHz Qualcomm ARM 11

GPU: Adreno 130

Display: TFT Capacitive touchscreen, 65K colors, 3.2 inch, 320 x 480 pixels

Storage: 256MB internal, expandable to 16 GB

RAM: 192 MB

Battery: 1150 mAh non-removable Li-Ion, Stand-by 406h, Talk time 5h 20min

Features: Accelerometer, compass, SMS, MMS, Email, Instant Messaging, HTML browsing

Final Words

So fellow tech geeks this was a brief look into the history and evolution of smartphones. We hope you are better informed about smartphones than you were before reading this article. Let us know in the comment section what was the first phone/smartphone you bought and when? And at what age did you get your first phone?

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