South Africa’s most popular mobile phones: 1994 to 2014

Vodacom launched its first commercial mobile services on 1 June 1994, with an initial 36,000 active customers on the network.

These customers were proud to show off their new mobile phones, which included devices like the Alcatel HB100, Ericsson GH198, Motorola 7200, Siemens S3, and Nokia 2110 (see the first mobile phones sold in South Africa).

Over the years the mobile phone industry evolved, and smartphones started to overtake traditional feature phones as the most popular choice among consumers.

As part of its 20 year anniversary, Vodacom released a list of the popular phones on its network from 1994 to 2014.

It should be noted that the popularity of the phones are not based on sales figures alone, but also on factors like hype and desirability.

1994 – Motorola MicroTAC

The Motorola MicroTAC introduced the flip design into the mobile phone market, with the mouthpiece folded over the keypad. It was one of the smallest and lightest cellular phones available at the time.

Motorola MicroTAC
Motorola MicroTAC

1995 – Nokia 909

The Nokia 909 was introduced in South Africa shortly after the first commercial mobile services were launched. The phone weighed 193 grams, and supported talk time of up to 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Nokia 990
Nokia 990

1996 – Ericsson GH688

The Ericsson GH688 was launched in 1996, and was considered a very light phone weighing only 160 grams. The phone featured a 3 x 12 character display, and offered talk time of up to 240 minutes.

Ericsson GH688
Ericsson GH688

1997 – Ericsson T10

The Ericsson T10 was a flip phone which weighed only 135 grams. It sported a monochrome graphic screen with a 101 x 33 pixel resolution, and offered up to 4 hours talk time.

Ericsson T10
Ericsson T10

1998 – Nokia 5110

The Nokia 5110 was announced in 1998, and featured a monochrome graphic screen with 5 lines of text. It weighed 170 grams, offered 3 games (Memory, Snake, Logic) and supported between 3 hours and 5 hours of talk time.

Nokia 5110
Nokia 5110

1999 – Motorola Timeport

The Motorola Timeport weighed in at 140 grams, and offered users a 5 line monochrome graphic screen. It supported up to 210 minutes talk time, and offered WAP browsing.

Motorola Timeport
Motorola Timeport

2000 – Nokia 3210

The Nokia 3210 was announced in 2000, and offered users downloadable monophonic ringtones. The phone weighed 151 grams, and had a 5 line monochrome graphic screen.

Nokia 3210
Nokia 3210

2001 – Nokia 3310

Initially released in the year 2000, the Nokia 3310 went on to be one of the most successful mobile phones ever. It weighed 133 grams, and offered over 4 hours talk time. It also sported user exchangeable front and back covers.

Nokia 3310
Nokia 3310

2002 – Nokia 3510i

The Nokia 3510i was announced in 2002, and delighted users with vibration alerts and downloadable polyphonic and monophonic ringtones. It weighed 106 grams, and featured a 96 x 65 pixels colour screen. It supported SMS and MMS messaging, and WAP browsing.

Nokia 3510i
Nokia 3510i

2003 – Nokia 6600

The Nokia 6600 was launched in 2003, and at the time was the most advanced product ever launched by Nokia. It featured the Symbian OS-based Nokia Series 60 platform, had a VGA camera, extended storage by memory card, a music player, a video player, and Bluetooth connectivity.

Nokia 6600
Nokia 6600

2004 – Motorola Razr V3

The Motorola Razr was developed in 2003 and launched in 2004. The phone was one of the most popular mobile devices ever with sales of 130 million units. The phone featured a TFT, 256K colour display, offered many games, and weighed only 95 grams.

Motorola Razr V3
Motorola Razr V3

2005 – Samsung E250

The Samsung E250 offered a 128 x 160 pixel TFT screen, a microSD card slot, and SMS, EMS, MMS, e-mail and WAP support. The phone weighed only 80 grams, and included an FM radio and voice memos.

Samsung E250
Samsung E250

2006 – LG Chocolate

The LG Chocolate was a slider cellphone with a 176 x 220 pixel screen and touch-sensitive navigation keys with backlights. It came in black, white, pink and wine colours, and weighed 83 grams. It had a 1.3 MP camera and an LED flash.

LG Chocolate
LG Chocolate

2007 – Motorola SLVR

The Motorola Slvr was designed to be very thin and lightweight, and at only 96 grams and 11.5mm thick it clearly succeeded. It featured a 176 x 220 pixel colour screen, a VGA camera, and came in black, silver and pink.

Motorola SLVR
Motorola SLVR

2008 – LG KS-360

The LG KS-360 was released in 2008, and was marketed in some regions as the LG Webslider and LG Neon. The phone featured a full QWERTY keyboard and a 2.4 inch colour screen, and was aimed at users who focussed on text messaging and social networking.

LG KS-360
LG KS-360

2009 – Samsung Omnia

The Samsung Omnia was launched in 2008, and featured a 3.2 inch TFT screen and a 5.0-megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash. It shipped with the Windows Mobile Professional (6.1) mobile operating system.

Samsung Omnia
Samsung Omnia

2010 – Apple iPhone 4

The Apple iPhone 4 was the smartphone to be seen with in 2010. It featured 640 x 960 pixels, 3.5 inch touch screen, and offered up to 32GB storage. The iPhone 4 offered HSPA connectivity, and had a 5MP camera.

iPhone 4
iPhone 4

2011 – Samsung GALAXY S II

The Samsung Galaxy S II was an Android based smartphone, with a 4.3 inch gorilla glass touch screen. The phone featured HSDPA connectivity, an 8MP primary camera, a 2MP front camera, and up to 32GB storage.

Samsung Galaxy S2
Samsung Galaxy S2

2012 – Samsung GALAXY Note II

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is an Android phablet smartphone, with a 5.5 inch AMOLED touch screen with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels. The phone featured 2GB RAM, up to 64GB storage, an 8MP primary camera and a 2MP secondary camera.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Samsung Galaxy Note 2

2013 – Nokia Lumia

The Nokia Lumia 925 is a smartphone which runs Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system. The phone’s 2000 mAh battery offers up to 18.3 hours of talk time in 2G and up to 12.8 hours of talk time in 3G. The phone features a 4.5 inch AMOLED screen, and an 8MP camera with Carl Zeiss optics.

Nokia Lumia 925 press shot multicolour front and back
Nokia Lumia 925

2014 – Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung’s Android based Galaxy S5 smartphone was unveiled in February 2014, and features a 5.1 inch Super AMOLED display. It also sports a fingerprint sensor, a 16MP primary camera and a 2MP secondary camera. It has a Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400 CPU and ships with up to 32GB storage.

Samsung Galaxy S5 press shot
Samsung Galaxy S5

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South Africa’s most popular mobile phones: 1994 to 2014