When Did Cellphones Become Popular?

We all use cellphones at least every single day, sometimes more than we are supposed to. I know some of us probably cannot live without them. Today’s cellphone has very advanced features, making it possible to perform all kinds of functions. They have made it possible to contact anyone, anytime from anywhere, not to mention they allow for online services such as online banking and research on literally everything. With cellphone usage becoming so addictive, it even sounds absurd to imagine there was a time they did not exist. But actually, there was. Every technology begins with an invention and can take ages to become popular.

So, when did cellphones become popular? Cellphones became popular in the 2000s, which is when they became accessible to everyone. Before that, most people could not afford them. Even with money available, getting one was difficult. But in the early 2000s, cellphones became cheaper and were produced in large numbers.

Cellphones were invented a long time ago and most of today’s generation have only seen them be big as they are today. How many people actually know the history of the cellphone? Very few, I suppose. How old were you when you got your first cell phone? Our answer will differ depending on what age group we are in. Plus, other factors like your parent’s decisions, affordability, urgency, and popularity of phones at that time, also contributed to when you first had access to a cellphone. There is so much to learn about cellphones, also known as cellular phone, hand phone, mobile phone, or simply mobile or phone. Read on to find out!

When Cellphones Became Popular

Cellphones became popular in the early 2000s. They were in existence way before then, but only a minority of the world population had one. Back then, they did not have any of the features we know now; colours, vibration, caller identification, internet, camera, clock, calendar, games, nothing! At this point, who would have thought that someday phones would become ubiquitous? They were too rare for anyone to think that.

The first cellular phone call was made by Martin Cooper, a Motorola engineer in 1973. The call was to prove that Motorola had successfully devised a portable phone that was functional. And to say the least, the phone was really huge. Think of the size of a shoebox. On top of that, one could only talk for about 35 minutes and need to recharge it for 10 hours. Shocking, right?

The good news is progress was made and by 1983, cellphones were able to operate commercially as a much slimmer 16-ounce model. The problem was it was quite costly, between $3,500 and $4,000. This was a fortune back then and that is why very few people could afford the phone.

Before the 80s, cellphones were very expensive and only rich people could afford to own one. For instance, you would only find one cell phone in an entire company and it basically belonged to the top ranks. The cell phones were so big that they could not be kept in the pocket but carried in big purses or briefcases.

They later gained some popularity in the 90s but those who had them mostly used them for work. Although personal cell phones were available, very few people had them. People mostly used beepers instead. Manufacturers were able to reduce the size of a cellphone that it was now able to fit into a pocket, especially that of coats. The first smartphone was made in 1992 by IBM and it was called ‘the Simon Personal Communicator’. With this phone, one could make calls, store contacts, and create task lists. It was sold at a retail price of around $900 and over 50,000 units were sold.

Heading towards the year 2000, cell phones were becoming popular among adults. They could now fit into pants pockets. Nokia was the leading manufacturer, slimming down the size of the models to offer portability. Everyone was now able to access cell phones and a majority could afford to secure one. It was not until late 2000 when kids started having cell phones as well. The way the product evolved on the 2000s was very rapid and their business market grew just as rapidly. Features such as email, calendar, internet, and games were introduced, making phones even more popular.

Even though smartphones had become popular all around the world, early phones known as feature phones were still sold at the lower ends of the market. Currently, they are used mainly as an accompaniment to a smartphone since they are more durable. Cellphones have continued to advance in technology, with them being turned into minicomputers recently. They have increased capabilities thanks to the more enhanced features that make them stand out from the former generation of phones.

What Is The Future of Cellphones?

It was just the other day when smartphones were introduced and now phones with buttons have become unpopular. This is evidence that cellphones are advancing so rapidly that there is no time to slow down and dwell on one design. Based on this trend, it seems that almost anything we can imagine will be possible in the future. New technology keeps being invented, and cellphone manufacturers are so quick to incorporate it. It is as though there is no end to the invention.

Experts anticipate that most of the phone software and hardware will be moved to the cloud in the future. Smartphones will completely dominate the market and regular button cellphones will become extinct. The future cell phone will be made to appeal to our emotional senses. It will be able to synchronize with our biological reflexes such thought processes, eye movement, cultural preferences, and kinesthetic. They are expected to be very closely embedded in our daily lives even more than they already are.

Some futurologists predict that the future cell phone will become the remote control of our lives. There will be phones with flexible frames, biodegradable phones, solar phones, human companion phones, and other forms of artificial intelligence. Actually, smartphones might disappear and Artificial Intelligence gadgets take over, performing all the functions of phones.

Why the term cellular?

Cellphone is a short form of cellular phone. The term cellular in phone technology was introduced by engineers W. Rae Young and H. Ring. They made a diagram of a network of wireless towers into something they called a cellular layout. Cellular was the chosen word since every tower on its map resembled a biological cell. Thereafter, all the phones that used this wireless network were referred to as cellular phones. So cellular refers to the type of network connection, not the type of phone. However, many people just use the two terms synonymously due to lack of this kind of knowledge.

To explain this further, a mobile phone that operates using cellular network is a cellphone. Some people, however, consider the term cellular phone a misnomer since it insinuates that the phone is cellular while it is not, the network is. The phone is a mobile phone because it is not connected to any wires. Maybe they only support cellular network and not cellular phone. What do you think? The term cellular also refers to all cell-based gadgets associated with PCS, 2G, 3G, and 4G AMPS. Phones that use satellite network are not cellphones but simply mobile phones. Do you get the difference now?

Which Are The Most Popular Cellphones Right Now?

The cellphone market is relentlessly competitive. Manufacturers are always trying to outdo each other, making the cellphone technology advance rapidly. It is almost impossible to keep up with the trend since there is always a new phone model, better than the previous ones. For some time now, Apple and Samsung have remained to be the most popular cellphone brands. They have the most expensive and most advanced cellphones in the world. This makes them the perfect choice for customers who want to maintain a certain social standard and those who want to keep up with the newest trends.

For this reason, iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phones are highly regarded. People who own these phones are considered rich and classy. While these two phone manufacturers are the most popular, I wouldn’t say they are the top-selling as well. Most people own phones made by Techno, Nokia, and Huawei brands as they much more affordable. Life’s Good (LG), Google, and Motorola phones are right behind them.


About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.