Mobile phones used to be clumsy and inconvenient gadgets. Some might argue that they are now stupid, but they were also dumb in the mid-1990s: most flip phones couldn’t do anything more than make a phone call. That would have been all right if they looked cool, but instead of phones like the Nokia 2120, the polite way to put it was, well, practical. For the gadget, we are staring at today, something that has changed: the Motorola StarTAC.
The Motorola StarTAC phone, launched in 1996, was all that other phones weren’t: elegant, lightweight, and trendy. It was the smallest, lightest mobile phone in the world, described by the company as a “wearable first flip phone.” It was compact enough to fit in a bag, and the clamshell-style had more than a superficial similarity to the Star Trek communicators. Instead of an irritating ringer, it was the first handset to offer a silent vibrate mode.
In other words, it was a gadget that you didn’t like being seen with. The success continued later in the year as a version of the Motorola startac that operated on the then-new GSM phone standard was introduced by Motorola startac, which eliminated the complicated issue of intercepting and capturing your phone calls.
An LCD screen that replaced the calculator-style monitor on the original model and the ability to transmit data at a blistering speed of 9600 bits per second were both applied to these updated versions. The Motorola startac was well received by consumers. They forgave the slimline battery’s rather weak battery life (Motorola estimated 60 minutes of talking time, but that was rather optimistic) because it looked cool. You could add a second battery to the back if you needed more chat time (a feature that I wish modern cell phones still had).
With TV commercials featuring the phone mysteriously concealed in a supermodel’s bikini and endorsements from Chinese pop stars, it became a late 1990s status icon. In movies such as 8mm (starring Nicholas Cage) and Jackie Brown, it even shows up, a sure indication that a gadget is reaching legendary status.
In fact, when you flicked it, I remember the pleasing sprouting noise that the extended antenna produced. This antenna was also a little flimsy, as a 2002 CNet analysis pointed out: when stretched, it would quickly pop off. Needless to say, this was my phone’s final destiny, and I had to repair it after my antenna broke from an unnecessarily intense sproinging session.
With revised models incorporating exotic attributes such as a color screen and improved battery life over the years, the motorola startac brand survived a surprisingly long time.
But in the early 2000s, when consumers switched to phones that offered more features at the expense of scales, such as Motorola StarTAC own RAZR, which had two wide color displays and a camera, the name started to disappear.
The Motorola StarTAC III, which premiered in South Korea in 2007, was the brand’s last hurrah. Motorola discontinued the brand because it was not a major seller. Search giant Google acquired the cell phone division of Motorola in 2012 and is now preparing to use the venture to announce a new flagship Android phone.
History Of Motorola StarTAC
A year back, the Motorola StarTAC was available on Orange for £129.99 as the MR501 bargain-basement edition. The MR501 was dubbed the ‘ideal phone for budget posers’ by Cellphone. It looked like StarTAC, but there was a lack of consistency and characteristics.
The last fling of the Motorola StarTAC was the supreme symbol of luxury at StarTAC, the StarTAC 130. The StarTAC 130 looks every bit as costly with gold lettering set against a matt black backdrop as it was. This phone was fitted to top-of-the-line Jaguar cars in a specially branded version. The attractiveness of the StarTAC persisted into the new century. It has made it to the list of the 100 best gadgets of all time in Time Magazine.
- StarTAC 85, the 1996 original
- StarTAC 70, the cheaper 1997 edition
- StarTAC 85
- StarTAC Lite, an even lighter 1997 edition,
- StarTAC 110, StarTAC 130 colour edition
- MR501, a low-cost variant
- MR701, a more mature StarTAC
An estimated 60 million Motorola StarTAC phones sold worldwide are still not bad. Motorola deserves praise for designing a concept that makes mobile phones more available to the general population rather than the wealthy. And the StarTAC is far from dead: Lekki, a maverick architecture firm in Finland, is marketing refurbished StarTACs in a range of colors.
The yellow model would cost you €170 (about $220), but there is always a chance to bathe by buying a phone that defined the notion of a mobile phone that you were not embarrassed to use in public in the hipstery glow of retro happiness.
What impressions do you have of the Motorola StarTAC?
First flip phone – Motorola StarTAC
It was the smallest and lightest cell phone in the world when Motorola StarTAC unveiled the StarTAC in 1996. Not just that, the entire definition of what a cell phone could look like was redefined. A hint of things to come was its neat, clamshell-style. But the most staggering thing about the StarTAC at the time of its launch was its price, an eye-watering £ 1400, making it by far the most expensive cell phone of its day.
Motorola promoted the StarTAC alongside an American Express Gold Card in the United Kingdom. Side by side, two of the most coveted artifacts of the period. It was the trick of an old man to make your dream of the two with the same breath, as small and as attractive as the Gold Card. The StarTAC had that indefinable feeling of consistency, perhaps like no other handset, that could put it alongside some of the most coveted possessions money can purchase.
However, the StarTAC valuation could not last in such a fast-changing environment.
Rival items from Sony and Ericsson forced the price down, unlike such style classics as the Mont Blanc Pen or the American Express card. A year later, the StarTAC 70, a much less expensive version of the original StarTAC, was selling for £200, and the original, the StarTAC 85, was selling for £300. It was also one of the most costly phones at the moment, even at these prices.