The Noughties was a time of seismic social and technological change.
It brought broadband into our homes, heralded public adoption of WiFi, saw the creation and emergence of social media, and established email as arguably the communication platform.
It was also a period of unprecedented smartphone evolution.
The Android and iOS ecosystems both debuted in the late Noughties, while 3G’s arrival in 2001 effectively kick-started mobile internet usage.
Indeed, none of the innovations during the 2010s came close to replicating the seismic shocks of the preceding decade. Evolution is never as memorable as revolution.
Even so, today’s smartphones are capable of functions their ancestors could only have dreamed of.
You won’t get far trying to play Minecraft on a BlackBerry, or asking your trusty Motorola Razr to download the Headspace app.
Yet as smartphones become simultaneously more powerful and more disposable, anyone over the age of 30 is likely to view retro mobile phones with nostalgia.
Which begs a question: if your Nokia 6233 is still operational (and many are), could you realistically use it every day without missing out on too many modern services?
Something old, something Bluetooth?
The extent to which you need a modern smartphone rather than an old or retro mobile phone depends on your need for high-speed mobile connectivity.
Pre-millennial handsets lack Bluetooth, phones from before 2008 won’t have app stores, while those manufactured before summer 2012 won’t be able to connect to 4G.
Millennial handsets should offer 3G compatibility, which is sufficient for basic web browsing, search engine checks and reading emails – though not downloading attachments.
Arguably more concerning is the lack of operating system updates on older handsets.
Android devices running 7.0 (Nougat) or earlier have had support and updates withdrawn by Google, leaving them susceptible to malware and security flaws.
Also, newer apps won’t work. App developers rarely engineer in backwards compatibility for an operating system that’s no longer being supported.
The merits of retro mobile phones
It’s important to note older handsets have a number of key advantages.
They’re cheap to buy, with little fear factor attached to dropping or losing them. You certainly don’t need to invest in bulky aftermarket cases to protect your investment.
Using an old device keeps it out of landfill – maximising the lifespan of internal components which contain hard-to-recycle materials.
Old phones tended to have far better battery life and standby time than modern handsets. The 2017-era Nokia 3310 can last an entire month without being charged.
Brandishing a BlackBerry or ringing someone on a Razr also makes various cultural statements, which may appeal.
And though it’s easy to forget in the age of quad-lens cameras and 5G connectivity, a mobile phone’s primary function is to make calls and distribute text messages.
A functioning retro handset will be perfectly capable of both these tasks, and plenty more besides.
If you can find a compatible charger, and don’t mind missing out on contemporary services, it could represent a good choice.