Halfway through the Nokia 3310 and the sleek iPhones we have nowadays, there has been a generation of phones that were known for their high price and their, let’s say, particular looks.
Because who doesn’t want an ugly phone that costs thousands of Euros? Reminiscent of a wristwatch, their video explanation of its manufacture compares it to jewelry-making. Their website is equally bizarre. For a tiny screen and an awkward button layout reviews pointed out were not at all intuitive to use, this £35,000 is perhaps more gauche than ugly.
This, uh, enticing flip-phone is not currently on offer, “and not coming back” (oh, thank heavens), but was once sold from Chinavision. And no that’s not a Swastika, it’s a reverse Swastika, which is 100% different from the Nazi symbol in implications. Still, a bit disconcerting for Westerners. If you can get past the unintentional reminders of the Third Reich, the phone is, well, still not super appealing. A part of me does hope the Dalai Lama uses this phone, though.
Another experimental phone of the new millennium, China Electronics Corporation created this expensive, tiny phone in 2003—more than a decade ago. With multiple pixels and a 255 color display (and even a keypad attached to the wristband), this clunky piece of ‘90s-era James Bond tech really did once look futuristic to us.
Square phones just never did catch on. It’s hard to fault Motorola too hard for the Flipout, as it was at least an attempt at being innovative. It still comes across to our modern sensibilities as ugly as hell, clunky, and, well, kind of dumb. But good on them for at least trying.
If you wanted a phone that looked like a mix between a futuristic makeup case and a rotary phone, then boy does 2005 have a phone for you! The Serene was a joint venture between Samsung and another minimalist gadget company, Bang & Olufsen. And it wasn’t a total failure! The Serene’s successor, the Serenata, was announced two years later, and featured a slide-out speaker and focus on music. It’s not so much that the phone is ugly, but that it doesn’t look anything like a phone.
Another Samsung product created in partnership with the same company, the Serenata attempted to tone down the weirdness of the “experimental” Serene phone while still focusing on being a “music phone.” Unfortunately in the era of the scroll-wheel iPod and a year when the iPhone was just being hyped, the Serenata left consumers reminiscent of those generic, knock-off game systems like the Super Polystation 2, or the WiWi, rather than enticed to flock to this innovative (and ugly) phone.
A limited edition phone from Vertu, a company that is oddly enough now making Bently-branded phones and accessories once produced this abomination that would have been gauche even for a villain in a ‘90s Kung Fu movie. With a pair of huge diamonds, two emeralds, over 400 rubies, and a garish attached piece of cobra art that looks like something you’d buy at a mall kiosk, this incredibly expensive and incredibly stupid phone won Engadget’s title of “world’s ugliest phone” in 2006.
The Nokia 7600. The perfect phone if you’re looking for something that you will never truly be able to use, due to its bizarre shape and un-ergonomic keyboard. An eyebrow raiser and a ridicule-earner, this early noughties relic will boggle the minds of humans for years to come.
Not surprisingly, this boomerang-looking device from 2006 is nowhere to be found on the current Goldvish website, as they’re now trying to hawk similarly-pricey, but more standard black rectangle smartphones. The Goldvish Le Million was released in 2006 as the most expensive mobile phone ever, and is in the Guinness Book of World Records, being priced around £675,123.
Looking like something halfway between a container for birth control pills and a device to contact the galactic ruler Lord Xenu, it is difficult to explain why this device flubbed so hard without saying, well, just look at it.
How long until the fad of zany smartphone design takes off again? Perhaps a bendable touchscreen that folds around your torso? Something akin to Google Glass that you wear on your face? Or maybe we’ll jump straight to the iPhone neural implant. Whatever the future holds, the past sure holds some ugly phones.