Five mobile phone features no one cared about

According to a study by Intelligent Voice, 85% of iPhone owners have never used its Siri 'personal assistant'. But it isn't the first mobile phone gimmick to be ignored.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 22 Oct 2013

1. Any kind of voice control

Siri isn’t the only gimmicky voice-control to be shunned by the masses (although MT did derive a good five minutes’ amusement after it taught Siri to call it ‘My Lady of Darkness’). Phone designers, take note: shouting ‘CALL MUM. NO, NOT TOM – CALL. MUM.’ into one’s phone as one takes a stroll through the town is not a recipe for street cred. It’s a recipe for merciless mockery. MT is already limbering up its pointing-and-laughing finger in preparation for the launch of the voice-activated Google Glass.

2. Buttons around the side

In 2003 Nokia launched its inexplicable 7600, a kind of leaf-shaped phone with buttons arranged around the screen rather than below it. The phone was supposed to be a design statement: it was launched at that year’s 100% Design exhibition. But not only was it impossible to use, it was too square to hold comfortably to your ear. The designers had clearly recognised this: the phone was edged with rubber, making it nice and bouncy for all those times its owners dropped it…

3. The Facebook button

As if the kids needed any more encouragement to spend all their time on social media, in 2011 HTC launched its infuriatingly-named Salsa and Cha Cha models, which featured a button with the Facebook logo on it that glowed any time the phone thought they should be sharing something. Let’s be honest – Facebook is cultish enough as it is, without a gently pulsating light encouraging you to check it. Thankfully for the fabric of society, the phones didn’t really take off.

4. WAP

Wireless Application Protocol was first developed in 1997, and was included as standard in many mobile phones not long afterwards. Kudos to its developers: this was revolutionary stuff, a precursor to 3G. But at the time, it was glacially slow, and with the dancing gifs and midi files so beloved by 90s web developers, most websites weren’t built to work with mobile phones – particularly given their tiny screens. Still: almost 20 years later, mobile internet is marginally faster but just as frustrating. Some things never change…

5. Size

It might be all about wearable tech now, but during the 90s mobile phone manufacturers were engaged in a race to see who could build the smallest, lightest phone. The undoubted victor was Nokia, which launched the tiny 8210 in 1999 – a mobile phone designed exclusively for toddlers and pixies. Clearly, phones weren’t going to get any smaller, so manufacturers went off in search of something else to pursue. In the early noughties, Motorola launched the ‘ultra’ ‘thin’ RAZR flip phone.

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