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

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

As early as 2002, Nokia, then the world’s largest manufacturer, launched a model called the Nokia 7650, the first with a built-in camera. I know it might be right with some marginal manufacturers like Kyocera or Sharp, who were really the first to launch phones with a built-in camera, but everyone knows that these were experiments that never happen, or whether anyone took them. seriously.

Nokia was at the peak 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 business model was the aforementioned Nokia 7650, which brought a VGA camera on the back, a screen that supported 4096 colors, but also a fairly unconventional overall design for the time being. The 7650 was a slippery cell phone. The numeric keypad could be opened and closed by a simple device.

In addition to the striking design, it brought support for the WAV audio format, so you could install your own soundtrack as a song or put some interesting sound for an incoming text message.

Personally, I was one of the first owners of this device in the world. When I say that, I’m not exaggerating, because in 2002, the penetration of the mobile phone into the population was incomparably lower than it is today. Back then, the Nokia 3310 and Ericsson T10 were the most commonly seen models seen on the streets, in offices, and on coffee tables, while administrators, and those who felt that way, were in possession of the Ericsson T68 or some other expensive phone. .

The Nokia 7650 was striking, both because of its unusual shape and a fairly large color screen at the time. This 2.1-inch screen was visibly larger than that of the Ericsson T68, and because of the 4096 supported colors, it also brought an incomparably better screen. So good that the photos on it looked real and the background images were amazing.

The camera had a VGA resolution sensor, which means that the photos taken with it were 640 x 480 pixels large. From today’s perspective, this seems a bit backward, but at the time it was pushing the boundaries. 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. Admittedly, digital cameras weren’t much better then, at least not for using photos online.

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

Unfortunately, this camera was unable to record video, but this was soon made possible by the hard work of developers who began developing applications for this device. In addition to being branded as the first commercial camera phone, the Nokia 7650 was also the founder of Symbian, an operating system that soon evolved into a great ecosystem. There were no app stores like today, but various online services specialized in selling mobile apps on their websites.

Symbian may not have been the first mobile operating system to allow applications to be installed, but it was much 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 great descendants, such as the 6600, 7680 and the mega-popular N-series.

Anyway, the Nokia 7650 certainly deserves a place in the history of technology, engraved in gold letters, and we will remember it as the creator of cameras in mobile phones without which we could not imagine today’s world.

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