27th April 2014
A few months ago we looked at what we considered
to be the ten
biggest handset disasters of all time. Well, there's no shortage
of devices that failed in the market, either because they were ill-conceived,
weird or just too far ahead of their time.
Nokia N9 / N950 (2011)
Nokia's one-and-only commercially available MeeGo
handset, the Nokia
N9 is actually a pretty desirable bit of kit
with a well-regarded operating system and a highly influential
hardware design that was copied by Nokia's Lumia range
and helped to popularise brightly-coloured plastics.
Also available to developers only was the Nokia
N950, a handset that is quite rare and is highly
The N9 represents Nokia's utter failure to come up
with a home-grown rival to the iPhone. Coming two years
after its predecessor, the N900, the N9 was too late
to make a difference, partly because of a foolish decision
to try to merge
platforms with Intel. It was obvious even before
launch that the N9 was going
to be doomed, and even before it was launched in
a few minor markets the project was killed, and Nokia
went with the Windows platform instead. The bottom
line? The world doesn't need another mobile phone OS,
no matter how good it is.
Buyer's guide: N950s are available from time-to-time,
but are expensive.. prices range from €700 all the way
up to €2300. Strictly speaking, they are all property
of Nokia and were sent to developers only. The
Nokia N9 is more commonly available for between €260
to €330 depending on model.
Nokia 7700 / 7710 (2003 / 2004)
Nokia's first attempt at a touchscreen for was the
Nokia 7700 which
was a strikingly designed device, but it was far too
big to be practical and features Nokia's infamous "side
talking" system where you had to speak into side
of the phone rather than the front. The 7700 was also
crippled by a lack of memory, so that particular device
was cancelled and replaced with the slimmed down and
slightly upgraded Nokia
The 7710 lacked
the essentials of 3G and WiFi, and consumers weren't
really interested in touchscreen phones anyway. Instead
of sticking with it, Nokia ditched the idea of touchscreen
smartphones.. which was to prove a mistake.
Buyer's guide: the Nokia 7700 is one of the
rarest Nokias around with prices starting at about €700,
but they are so rarely available that one could cost
much more. The 7710 is a lot cheaper but still uncommon,
at around €20 to €150 depending on condition.
Nokia N-Gage (2003)
A handheld gaming console from Nokia, the Nokia
N-Gage should have been a winner. But Nokia
got it badly wrong - it was too bulky to use as a phone,
too limited to be used for games - so it was never very
popular. An attempt to improve the platform with the
QD wasn't much of a success either.
Buyer's guide: there seems to be quite a lively
trade in the N-Gage and cartridge games. Prices range
from €10 or less to €30 for the handset itself.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play (2011)
The lack of success for the N-Gage meant that there
were no other high-profile phone/games console hybrids
until 2011, with the launch of the Sony
Ericsson Xperia Play. Where the N-Gage was underpowered,
the Xperia Play was much more powerful (although hardly
high-end). Despite this, the Xperia Play wasn't a success
and no attempt was made to revive the format.
Buyer's guide: officially the Xperia Play
is stuck with Android 2.3 although there are some custom
ROMs available with later versions. It is an inexpensive
device on the second-hand market, typically coming in
at €40 or less.
Sony Ericsson Vivaz (2010)
Sony Ericsson's Symbian swansong, the Sony
Ericsson Vivaz featured a pretty unpleasant
resistive touchscreen when almost everything else had
moved to superior capacitive displays. The handset might
have done better in 2008 than 2010.
The Vivaz and its sibing the Vivaz
Pro were commercial failures, and Sony Ericsson
never made another Symbian handset after that.
Buyer's guide: there are not many of these
on the market, but those that are tend to be very cheap
Sony Ericsson P1i (2007)
Sony Ericsson was a pioneer with Symbian touchscreen
devices, but the Sony
Ericsson P1i represented a step in the wrong
direction for their P-Series of smartphones.
Although in many ways it was superior to the original
Apple iPhone launched at roughly the same time, the
small stylus-drive screen and physical QWERTY keyboard
were not the sort of things that consumers wanted.
Buyer's guide: a quirky and quite interesting
device, it also falls into the "rare but cheap"
category of handsets that can be hard to find,
but come in at less than €50 or so.
Samsung i8510 (2008)
In 2008 Symbian was by far the best-selling smartphone
platform around, even though the iPhone was coming into
its second generation. In order to try to get a slice
of the pie that was dominated by Nokia, Samsung released the
i8510 (also known as the INNOV8).
A well-designed, well-engineered device with a good
feature set it seemed like an attractive proposition,
but it turned out that customers preferred their Nokias
to be made by Nokia after all.
Buyer's guide: like the Vivaz, this probably
only appeals to collectors of non-Nokia Symbian devices,
and it is another uncommon but inexpensive handset coming
in at less than €30.
Nokia N97 (2009)
It should have been a winner - a touchscreen phone
like the Nokia 5800 combined with a QWERTY keyboard
like the Nokia Communicator, and a feature set that
looked great on paper. But the Nokia
N97 was slow, buggy and had several design
flaws that made consumers unhappy. Most of these were
fixed with the rather better N97
Mini launched later in the year. But keyboards
were on the way out anyway, and in retrospect the entire
concept was not likely to be a winner.
Buyer's guide: The N97 (in mini and non-mini
versions) sells for around €25 to €50.
Nokia X7 (2011)
Symbian had already been given its death sentence
by the time the Nokia
X7 was announced which led to a speedy collapse
of that product line. The coffin-like design of the
X7 didn't help either, although as with all late
Symbian devices it is actually a pretty good phone.
Consumers don't like buying into a dead end product,
and the X7 was certainly one of those.
Buyer's guide: Resale values are quite high,
expect to pay between €60 to €120 for an unlocked version.
Nokia 5000 (2008)
With a product number like this, you would expect
5000 to be something special. A good-looking
and inexpensive device, one of the key features was
that it had an MP3 player. But with no expandable memory
and just 12MB of internal storage, you could probably
only fit in about three tracks which was a bit useless.
And you also had to be careful about how many photos
you took with the 1.3 megapixel camera too. Adding a
microSD slot would have transformed the product, as
it was it was almost completely useless.
Buyer's guide: if you collect chocolate
teapots then the Nokia 5000 might be the phone for
you. Good ones can be had for next to nothing.