Skip navigation

The first cell phone and the origins of the modern mobile

The first cell phone - The Motorola DynaTAC 8000x

Answering all your questions on the first cell phone ever

We’ve come a very long way from the first cell phone. 

The modern mobile phone allows us to take professional quality photos, livestream content from anywhere and is all about swipes and taps instead of buttons. We take these features for granted, even though they’re actually quite recent technological advancements. 

A person playing a mobile game on their modern mobile

That’s why we thought it’d be interesting to open up the history books and take a look at the very first mobile phone ever and some of the key milestones that got us to where we are today. 

What was the first cell phone ever made?

The first commercial cell phone was the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x. It saw commercial release in the US in 1983.

When was the first cell phone invented?

April 3, 1973 is the date most commonly associated with the invention of the first cell phone. This was also the date of the first publicly recorded cell phone call in history. 

That said, it’s worth noting that cell phones were being worked on as early as the 1940s. These early iterations aren’t really what we would consider mobile phones by today’s standards, however, and were more like two-way radios.

Who invented the first cell phone? 

The first mobile phone was invented by Motorola, and a team led by Dr Martin Cooper and John F. Mitchell. 

Motorola was not the only organization working on the concept at the time, but they beat Dr. Joel Engel and his team at AT&T to the punch and made history. 

When was the first cell phone call made? 

As mentioned above, the first cell phone call was made on April 3, 1973. 

Martin Cooper made the first cell phone call ever, on the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, to Dr. Joel Engel of AT&T. 

Cooper reports himself as saying “Joel, I’m calling you from a real cellular telephone. A portable handheld telephone.” He was apparently met with silence on the other end of the line. Maybe Dr. Engel was speechless… or maybe there were still a few bugs to work out.

How much did the first cell phone ever made cost? 

When it hit the market in 1983, the first cell phone ever made cost $3,995. That’s somewhere around $10,000 in today’s money. 

A shot of someone's hands holding around 10 $100 bills, as they're sat on the floor. You'd need a lot more than this to afford the first cell phone.

Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

How much did the first cell phone weigh? 

A lot by today’s standards. Nothing by the standard of the day. The Motorola DynaTAC 8000x weighed about 2.5 pounds (1.1kg) and stood about 9 inches (23cm) tall. Its battery allowed for about 30 minutes of call time or about six hours in standby.

Any questions on the first mobile phone? 

That just about covers the most common questions on the first mobile phone but if you’re curious or if we’ve missed something, feel free to drop a comment below.

Now let’s take a look at how we got from the DynaTac 8000x to the modern mobile. Brace yourself, ’cause you’re about to read a whole lot of “firsts.”

What was the first cell phone with a camera? 

The first cell phone with a camera was the Samsung SCH-V2000. The phone was capable of taking 20 photos but couldn’t send them anywhere. Rather, it had to connect to a computer to access the photos.

Because of this limitation, many people point to the Sharp J-SH04 as the first camera phone. The J-SH04 was not the first cell phone with a camera but it was the first with the ability to send photos.

Both phones were released, in Asia, in 2000. Over 20 years ago. These phones certainly took us one step closer to the modern mobile phone.

What was the first smartphone?

The first smartphone was the Simon Personal Communicator (SPC), created by IBM in 1994. 

This rather bulky device boasted a touchscreen, email capabilities and came with a number of built-in functions (we didn’t call them apps in those days) like a calculator.

What was the first flip cell phone?

The StarTAC is widely credited as the first flip cell phone, created by Motorola in 1996. 

Technically though, the NEC TZ-804 was the first flip cell phone. Created in 1991, this device was perhaps a little before its time and has been all but lost to history.  

What was the first phone with Internet access? 

The Nokia 9000, first released in 1996, was the first phone with Internet access. Back then, WAP (wireless access protocol) had a very different meaning than it does today.

Otherwise known as the “Communicator” this phone folded like a modern day laptop and boasted a full QWERTY keyboard. 

What was the first Samsung cell phone? 

The first Samsung cell phone was the Samsung SH-100, released in 1988. 

It wasn’t Samsung’s first foray though; the Samsung SC-1000 predated the SH-100 but was made for in-car use only. 

What was the first Nokia cell phone?

The first Nokia phone cell phone was the Nokia 1011, launched in 1992.

This was the world’s first mass produced GSM phone and one that kicked off a long era of Nokia mobile devices.

What was the first iPhone ever? 

The first iPhone ever was simply called iPhone, and it was released in 2007. 

While other phones had called themselves “smart,” it was the first smartphone as we think of it today.

What did we miss?

So there you have it, a look at the first cell phone and some of the key developments that got us to where we are today. What did we miss? What did we get wrong? Any questions we can answer? Let us know in the comments below.

A little shameless self promotion

If you’re curious about how to get the most out of your own cell phone, you should check out Ting Mobile’s fantastic plans.

Ting Mobile plans start at just $10/month and top out at $55. Unlimited plans start at just $45/month.

You also don’t need to worry about coverage, as we use the exact same network infrastructure as some of the nation’s largest mobile carriers.

A map of the united states with illustrated people on either side, speaking to each other on the phone

You can bring your own phone to Ting Mobile. Not the DynaTAC 8000x, but just about any VoLTE-capable phone will work.