Flashback: 20 years ago the Nokia 7650, the first camera phone, was launched

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of a device that completely changed the mobile phone industry and determined the direction of future smartphone development.

In 2002, Nokia, then the largest manufacturer in the world, launched a model called the Nokia 7650, the first with an integrated camera. I know, maybe nitpick with some fringe manufacturers like Kyocera or Sharp, who, truth be told, were really the first to launch phones with a built-in camera, but everyone knows these are experiences that don’t happen. never materialized, nor has anyone ever taken them seriously.

Nokia was at the height of its power at the time, so it was the first to launch a camera that would go into mass production and be available worldwide.

The first such commercial model was the mentioned Nokia 7650, which brought a VGA camera on the back, a display supporting 4096 colors, but also a rather unconventional overall design for its time. The 7650 was a slider cell phone. The number pad can be opened and closed with a simple mechanism.

Apart from the eye-catching design, it has supported WAV audio format, so you can install your own ringtone as song or put interesting sound for incoming text message.

Personally, I was one of the first owners of this device in the world. In saying this, I am not exaggerating because, in 2002, the penetration of mobile telephony in the population was incomparably lower than today. At the time, the Nokia 3310 and Ericsson T10 were the models most commonly seen on the streets, in offices and on coffee tables, while managers and those who resented it were in possession of the Ericsson T68 or another expensive phone. .

The Nokia 7650 attracted attention, both with its unusual shape and with its rather large color display at the time. That 2.1-inch screen was visibly larger than the Ericsson T68, and with 4096 colors supported, it also offered an incomparably better display. So good that the photos looked real and the background images looked great.

The camera had a VGA resolution sensor which means the photos taken with it were 640 x 480 pixels. From today’s perspective it seems rather retrograde, but back then it was pushing the envelope. Since there were no social networks yet, the photos taken with this camera could normally be used on websites and forums, and the participants in the discussions would not have imagined that the photos were taken with a mobile phone. . Truth be told, digital cameras back then weren’t much better either, at least not for the purpose of using photos online.

The photo of my cat, taken with the Nokia 7650 in 2002

Unfortunately, this camera could not record video, but it was soon made possible thanks to the hard work of developers who started developing applications for this device. Apart from being marked as the first commercial camera phone, the Nokia 7650 was also the founder of Symbian, an operating system that quickly grew into a large ecosystem. There were no app stores like today, but various web services had specialized in selling mobile software on their sites.

Symbian may not have been the first mobile phone operating system to allow the installation of applications, but it was far more popular than any other that existed, such as Microsoft’s PocketPC, PalmOS or BlackBerry.

Symbian as such was successful and for many years represented a paradigm in the world of smartphones, until the advent of the iPhone and then Android. This era was also marked by its many excellent successors, such as the 6600, 7680 and the very popular N series.

Be that as it may, the Nokia 7650 certainly deserves a place in the history of technology, engraved in gold letters, and we will remember it as the originator of cameras on mobile phones, without which we could not not imagine the world today.

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