In 2003, the 3G revolution had begun in Europe after NTT DoCoMo launched the world’s first commercial UMTS network in Japan in October 2001. The new phones flaunted front-facing cameras and were poster-children for 3G’s most prominent feature: video calling. They were much larger than their 2G counterparts which were contantly getting smaller and thinner and the high prices commanded by service subscriptions was hard to swallow. Even Apple launched their first iPhone on 2G networks only.
The first brands to offer 3G devices in Europe were Motorola and NEC and were sold through Hutchinson’s “3” network. Motorola A830 was one of the first 3G phones launched by 3 alongside NEC e606 and e808. The A series was split between feature phones (A8xx) and Symbian UIQ smartphones (A9xx) and throughout 2003, each of the two lines already had two iterations.
Wanting to compete with Sony Ericsson’s P800 and P900 touchscreen models which were all the rage in the high-end, A920 and A925 also ran Symbian UIQ, but were much larger and had batteries which could barely keep them open thorough a whole day. Despite the fact that they were packed to the brim with features such as A-GPS, a rotating camera for photo shoots as well as video calling, their limited availability, weak battery and the fact that they were literal bricks contributed to their commercial performance being but a blip on the radar.
In 2004 though, Motorola tried to switch their strategy and the A1000 model was born. It got rid of the stubby external aerial, lost a great amount of weight and ditched the rotating VGA camera in favour of a main 1.3MP unit and a front VGA one. Its design was a preview of what was to become the standard smartphone design come the new generation, giving up the physical keyboard and relegating all function to the ample touchscreen.