Motorola phones through the years: The best and the worst, in pictures
(Pocket-lint) – The company behind the world’s first commercial handheld mobile phone has certainly come a long way over the decades. From brick phones big enough to tear your pocket to smartphones with rotating keyboards, Motorola has dabbled in everything.
Since 1983, when the Dynatac 8000x – aka the granddaddy of cellphones – burst onto the scene, Motorola has been making a wide range of mobile phones, messaging phones, clamshell phones, fashion phones, and smartphones.
Browsing through old pictures of Motorola devices, whether or not they were good products, is bound to open up a nostalgic floodgate for most people.
We’re taking a look back to show the most iconic, interesting and unusual Motorola devices from over the years. Which of these do you remember?
Motorola DynaTAC (1983)
You’ve seen this before. If you haven’t, you’re probably 12. It became the first cell phone to be offered commercially and is fondly remembered as an iconic part of the 1980s. When it released, it was also considered a symbol of wealth and futurism. Now it looks extremely archaic and almost comical, but this phone heralded the future of the modern smartphone.
Motorola MicroTac (1989)
The MicroTAC was the smallest and lightest phone available at the time and made headlines across the world. It was truly portable and ended up in just about every music video throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Motorola StarTAC (1996)
Ah, the “It” phone. The StarTAC was the successor of the MicroTAC, a semi-clamshell phone hat had been launched in 1989. The StarTAC was among the first mobile phones to gain widespread consumer adoption.
Motorola D160 (1997)
If you couldn’t afford the StarTAC in the 1990s, then you got the D160. It’s also remembered as being one of the first PAYG (pay-as-you-go) phones.
Motorola I1000 Plus (1998)
The i1000plus was the world’s first handset to combine a digital phone, two-way radio, alphanumeric pager, Internet microbrowser, e-mail, fax and two-way messaging.
Motorola Timeport (1999)
The Motorola Timeport is one of several candybar phones manufactured by Motorola. Its design included an organic electroluminescent display, which wasn’t fully colour but included classic greens, blues and reds of the time. The Timeport made its name by working on GSM 900MHz, 1800MHz and 1900MHz networks meaning it could work in the UK, most of Europe and the United States too. This phone was the executive’s phone of choice at the time.
Motorola V100 (1999)
Described as a personal communicator as well as a phone, the V100 propelled the two-way messaging craze. Vibration alerts, mono ringtones and a funky design made this one pretty popular.
Motorola Timeport P7389i (2000)
Motorola and Cisco Systems supplied the world’s first commercial GPRS cellular network to BT Cellnet in the UK. The Timeport P7389i then became the first GPRS cellular phone.
Motorola V70 (2002)
The V70 certainly sported a pretty cool look. This instantly recognisable design was considered a fashion phone back in its day. A swivelling circular monochrome panel with a neon backlight keypad and interchangeable frames made this a pretty snazzy device from Motorola. The Motorola V70 had a WAP browser, GPRS capabilities, a vibrating mode and voice dialling.
Motorola T720 (2002)
Often described as a cross between the StarTAC and V60 series, the T720 notably included customisation features. Owners were able to change the phone’s front and black plates to customise and personalise the look of their device.
Motorola C200 (2003)
This phone was pretty boring for its time, but its simple design and cheap price tag made it the company’s third highest-selling cellphone of all time. The Motorola C200 was so well built that some users were claiming to still be using this phone, with its original battery, as late as 2011.
Motorola A760 (2003)
The A760 was world’s first handset to combine a Linux operating system and Java technology with full PDA functionality. Highlights of this device included a digital camera, video player, MP3 player, speakerphone, multimedia messaging and even Bluetooth technology.
Motorola I730 (2003)
This phone spearheaded the PTT (push-to-talk) craze. It was a Nextel-operated device and became synonymous with the carrier. It also boasted a fancy display capable of supporting up to 65,000 colours. A classic flip phone loved by many.
Motorola RAZR (2004)
Back in 2004, we had plenty of good things to say about the Motorola RAZR. Its extremely thin design made it stand out from the competition, and this particular model is now often associated with the entire Razr series. A slim and metallic body spoke of the future of minimalistic smartphone design and saw this device being marketed as an exclusive fashion phone. The RAZR proved wildly successful and Motorola sold over 50 million units by 2006.
Motorola PEBL (2005)
The Motorola PEBL was a classic clam-shell mobile phone that could be snapped open with one hand and featured a highly polished metal finish and a cool (for the time) appearance. It supported the triband network, had a whopping 5 megabytes of memory and even sported a VGA camera.
Motorola ROKR E1 (2005)
The Motorola ROKR E1 saw Motorola pairing up with Apple to create a brand new device that would be the first phone to support iTunes syncing – the second one being the Apple iPhone in 2007. The Motorola ROKR E1 allowed users to take 100 tracks from their iTunes collection out and about with them. This paled in insignificance when compared with the Apple iPod and a slow transfer rate resulted in a lack of appeal and lacklustre sales.
Motorola Krzr K1 (2006)
As a clamshell/flip phone, the KRZR was longer but narrower than the Motorola Razr. The KRZR series kicked off with the K1. Motorola was trying to rejuvenate the success of the original RAZR with this new device that included a 2-megapixel camera, an MP3 player and a snazzy design. We thought it was certainly a safe upgrade from the RAZR, but hardly a radical and exciting departure.
Motorola Q (2006)
The Motorola Q was a non-touchscreen phone that ran Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone Edition OS. With the Motorola Q, the company was attempting to offer an alternative to BlackBerry that was incredibly popular with business folk of the time.
The Moto Q featured a QWERTY keyboard, integrated Bluetooth technology, EV-DO access, wireless sync for any time connectivity with email, calendar and contacts synchronisation as well as support for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Adobe Acrobat. But none of these features was enough to dethrone BlackBerry.
Motorola SLVR L6 (2006)
Known for its thin design, the L6 held the title of the thinnest mobile phone in the UK before the Samsung P300 came along. The Motorola SLVR L6 was ideal for the fashionista on a budget (as we put it in 2006). It had a few things going for it, but wasn’t without its flaws.
Motorola Rizr Z8 (2007)
The Motorola Rizr Z8 featured an incredibly funky design for the time. We enjoyed the tactile feel and the classic Motorola materials combined with the kick-slider design. While other phones of the time were focused on music, the Motorola Rizr Z8 was pitched as a video device. A screen that supported 16 million colours and 30fps were the other highlights, as were the HSDPA connectivity, stereo Bluetooth, 2-megapixel camera and an expandable microSD slot.
Motorola ROKR E8 (2008)
The Motorola Rokr E8 wanted to be everyone’s music player and that much was clear from the four-way music controls featured prominently on the design. At the time, we thought the music sounded great, but it wasn’t the most advanced phone on the market and other features had suffered in favour of music capabilities. Still, at least it had a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Motorola AURA (2008)
The Motorola Aura bore a striking similarity to the V70 from a few years previous. But this outlandish mobile represented an entry into the elite world of high-end mobile phones with a £1,400 price tag that puts even today’s flagships to shame. Made from stainless steel, the Motorola Aura also boasted moving cogs and a circular screen protected by a Swiss-made lens. This phone was well and truly about looks over functionality. No Wi-Fi, 3G or microSD card slot and certainly no apps to speak of, but it did look pretty special.
Motorola ZN5 (2008)
The Motorola ZN5 saw Motorola pushing hard to regain the glory days of the RAZR. This time Motorola collaborated with Kodak to release a device with a focus on photography. This candybar style phone included a 5-megapixel camera as well as optimisation for multimedia applications. We found the ZN5 to be a bit underwhelming at the time, but it’s certainly another of Motorola’s more interesting devices.
Motorola Droid (2009)
The Motorola Droid was a multimedia-enabled smartphone that ran Google’s Android operating system. The Droid launched with Android Eclair (Android 2.0) and helped kick off one of the most successful mobile franchises in the world. At the time, we thought the Motorola Droid was a fantastic device offering a state-of-the-art experience with flawless telephone reception to boot. It was launched as the Motorola Milestone in other regions.
Motorola Droid X (2010)
This device revamped the Droid series by ditching the huge, heavy design often associated with Droids in favour of a (at that time, anyway) slim design. Despite this, it was still large and hardly the prettiest device around, but it did include an 8-megapixel camera and excellent video capture too. The Droid X certainly had a lot going for it and ran on Android 2.2 with Swype pre-installed, which made it interesting after the ditching of the slide out keyboard.
Motorola MING A1680 (2011)
The Motorola Ming was a mobile phone sold in Hong Kong and China only. It was part of a series of devices with interesting specifications, this model included a transparent clamshell cover and stylus pen. Certainly quirky.
Motorola ATRIX 4G (2011)
After a high-profile debut at CES 2011, this device is ultimately remembered for its gimmicky laptop dock. Motorola’s focus was on a device that put a computer in your pocket and came with a range of accessories too. The Motorola ATRIX was likely the forefather of the current Moto Mods and showed that Motorola wasn’t afraid to innovate.
Motorola Droid Razr Maxx (2012)
Resurrecting the Razr series, the Maxx had a long-lasting battery life and impressive Smart Actions software. The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx once again saw Motorola trying to relive the hazy days of RAZR glory. This new device might not have had the same style as the original device, but what it did have was a smashing battery – which lasted for as much as two days. At the time, it was likely the best Android device to own, especially if you wanted it to last and last. The lack of Android 4 at launch had many upset though.
Motorola Droid 4 (2012)
A part of the Verizon Droid franchise, the Droid 4 is considered one of the last great QWERTY smartphones. It supposedly perfected the mobile keyboard with responsive, tactile, and strong keys.
Moto X (2013)
Motorola Moto X was Motorola’s first flagship after becoming a Google-owned company and as such, it was much anticipated and much sought after. It wasn’t really much of a flagship though, aimed more at the mass market and designed to appeal to everyone it didn’t have the bleeding edge specs many would hope for from a flagship device. It did, however, offer customisation options and some funky aesthetics thanks to Moto Maker.
Moto G (2013)
The Moto G launched in 2013 wanting to do something that other smartphones didn’t do – bring all that power to emerging markets. The Moto G started a trend, wanting to wipe-out feature phones and put Android in the pockets of those who previously couldn’t afford to own a smartphone. It kickstarted a great family of Moto phones that’s still running today – and in many cases, still offers a great experience at the affordable end of the market.
Nexus 6 (2014)
The Nexus 6 saw Motorola going large with a Nexus device that moved into the phablet territory. This phone had many saying it was “too big” but was also rejoiced for being a fantastic all-around smartphone running the latest version of Android that was always sure to appeal to true Android fans. The Nexus 6 followed the design of the Moto X and it looked really good for it too. We thought the Nexus 6 had plenty of power, good all-round performance and a solid build backed by an attractive design.
Moto z and Moto Mods (2016)
The Moto Z was all about mods – clip-on modules offering a variety of different highlights including speakers, improved cameras and much more. This certainly made the phone stand out, but also assumed you’d want to spend more money in order to accessorise your smartphone. The Moto Z wasn’t a flagship device, but it was certainly interesting – and Moto Mods continued well beyond the original phone.
Read the review: Motorola Moto Z review: A modular muddle
Motorola Razr (2019)
The Razr is back for 2019 and this time it’s a vision of the future. The 2004 icon has been reinvented with a folding display, seeing a familiar clamshell design that effectively lets you fold your phone in half and slip it into your pocket. It’s already attracting a lot of attention – as will the $1500 price. It’s going to be available in early 2020 on Verizon and EE in the UK, pre-orders are open.
Moto G9 Power
With the Moto G9 Power, Motorola went against the norm and added a whopping battery into its phone that other flagship phones would baulk at. We found this phone could easily go two days before needing a charge as a result. On its own, that’s one heck of a selling point,
Other highlights included a 64-megapixel camera and an affordable price tag too. It might not be as fancy as other phones, but we thought it was a great option if you wanted something capable of lasting and lasting.
Writing by Adrian Willings and Maggie Tillman.