Nate Lanxon over at Wired (UK) put forward his case for why the Nokia 3210 is the greatest mobile phone ever made. Many of his points about the 3210 certainly are valid and point to flaws in the current range of handsets by many manufacturers, Nokia included.
I personally don’t agree with Nate that those factors made the 3210 the world’s best handset. At the time when Nate was rocking a 3210 I was a dedicated Ericsson customer having first used an Ericsson EH 237 back in 1994. Their handsets had a superior build quality, usually based around a magnesium alloy chassis (apart from a PF768 I had in grey plastic) and an operating system that allowed you to modify your phone to your hearts content. I remember programming in The Prodigy’s No Good Start The Dance as my ringtone on an Ericsson I888 using a list of numbers I had found online.
The phones were also able to be accessorised with with high capacity batteries and offered early data connections via IrDA, ideal for my Palm PDA at the time. Ericsson also managed to do a decent vibration alert which served as an effective under-pillow alarm clock.
My last and best Ericsson phone was the T39. At 86 grams, the smallest lightest phone I have carried. It came with the slim and fat batteries, the fat battery providing a good weeks charge and was one of the first mainstream phones that allowed you to roam effortlessly. My previous I888 and T28 world handsets only allowed you to roam on 900 GSM networks in Europe and 1900 GSM in the US. Whilst it was small it didn’t skimp on features such as Bluetooth and voice-operated commands.
I would argue that for me the Ericsson T39 handset was the best mobile phone ever made. However I am willing to concede that at least one Nokia model could contest this. The merger between Ericsson and Sony brought about some mediocre product design: a trend that has continued to this day in terms of their industrial design if not their software on many of their models.
So I branched out to a Nokia 6310i. The Nokia 6310i has been popular with road warriors for a long time. It is robust, has a ridiculiously long battery life and was the acme of user experience design in the menu system. Because of its popularity, an eco-system has built up around accessories for the 6310i and refurbishment since Nokia no longer makes the phone.