The Bestselling Mobile Phones of the Last 20 Years – The Top Seller Might Just Surprise You!

by Dan Forster - , Last Updated on September 17, 2015, Industry News

When most people think of mobile phones, Apple comes to mind, but did you know that the top selling phone of all time was actually the humble little Nokia? How did this phone we laugh at when we find it stuck in the junk drawer beat the stylish Apple iPhone in total unit sales? Let’s find out how many times Nokia pulled it off.

The Bestselling Mobile Phones of the Last 20 Years

Embed this resource on your site:

The Bestselling Mobile Phones of the Last 20 Years

1996 – Motorola StarTAC

Motorola StarTAC

Motorola StarTAC

60 million units sold, it:

  • Was the first clamshell design phone
  • Was one of the first mobile phones to:
  • Offer a display screen
  • Have vibrate alert along with a ringtone
  • Used an optional lithium-ion battery instead of NiMH

1998 – Nokia 5110

Nokia 5110

Nokia 5110

39 million units sold, it:

  • Was the most popular model for some time after its initial launch
  • Based on the same platform as the Nokia 6610, created for businesses [7]
  • Was rugged with an excellent battery life
  • One of first phones to feature the infamous game, Snake

1999 – Nokia 3210

Nokia 3210

Nokia 3210

160 million units sold, it:

  • Was one of the first phones with an antennae
  • Had great battery power and life
  • Had swappable covers in many colours
  • Still had limited features

2000 – Nokia 3310

Nokia 3310

Nokia 3310

126 million units sold, it:

  • Was sleeker and more compact than the brick phones of the day
  • Offered a greenlit 84×48 monochrome display, making easy to see in bright light
  • Came with a clock, stopwatch, timer, calculator and currency converter
  • Had a phonebook that held 250 contacts

2003 – Nokia 1100

Nokia 1100

Nokia 1100

250 million units sold, it:

  • Lacked a camera and a colour display
  • Was highly affordable and durable
  • Remains the best selling mobile phone of all time
  • Nokia wants to relaunch it in 2016

2004 – Nokia 2600

Nokia 2600

Nokia 2600


135 million units sold, it:

  • Included a colour display
  • Had polyphonic ringtones
  • Offered one of the first set of desktop tools
  • Lacked a camera or bluetooth capabilities

2005 – Nokia 1110

Nokia 1110

Nokia 1110


250 million units sold, it:

  • Was a successor to the 1100
  • Came with three games, Snake Xenzia, Dice Games and Pocket Carrom
  • Had the ability to send text messages
  • Still didn’t have a camera or colour display

2006 – Nokia 1600

Nokia 1600

Nokia 1600


130 million units sold, it:

  • Was a successor to the 1100
  • Came with three games, Snake Xenzia, Dice Games and Pocket Carrom
  • Had the ability to send text messages
  • Still didn’t have a camera or colour display

Nokia 1200

Nokia 1200

Nokia 1200


150 million units sold, it:

  • Included a 1.5-inch monochrome display [8]
  • Provided a dust-resistant keypad
  • Offered a battery lasting a full five days
  • Was one of the first cellphones to include a built-in flashlight

2008 – Apple iPhone 3G

Apple iPhone 3G

Apple iPhone 3G


35 million units sold, it:

  • Offered new features, like support for 3G networks and third party apps
  • Had expanded email features and improved call quality
  • Delivered a superior video and music experience
  • Lacked the features of the most basic cellphones and battery life was bad

2009 – Apple iPhone 3GS

Apple iPhone 3GS

Apple iPhone 3GS


35 million units sold, it:

  • Was faster than previous models
  • Had an extended battery life
  • Still had problems with 3G reception and call quality
  • Didn’t make the same leap as the 3G did from first generation models

2010 – Nokia 5230

Nokia 5230

Nokia 5230


150 million units sold, it:

  • Offered voice guided navigation and free maps
  • Had excellent call quality at an affordable price
  • Lacked wi-fi and a capacitive touch screen
  • Didn’t include a flash for the camera

2011 – Apple iPhone 4S

Apple iPhone 4S

Apple iPhone 4S


60 million units sold, it:

  • Comes with a clear 3.5 inch screen
  • Has enhanced wireless speeds and increased storage capacity
  • Still has battery life problems

2012 – Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy S III


40 million units sold, it:

  • Excellent battery life and quad core speed
  • Sports a 4.8 inch screen with AMOLED HD:
  • Three subpixels for every pixel – red, green and blue
  • Cleaner whites and improved contrast ratios
  • Launched at a huge event in London during the 2012 Olympics
  • Nestled in a plastic-feeling polycarbonate case with a strangely-rounded design

2013 – Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4
40 million sold, it:

  • Works as a TV/DVR Remote
  • Includes a microSD storage slot
  • Launched at the 2013 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona
  • Power button turns on unexpectedly and some camera modes are wonky

2014 – Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus


74.5 million units sold, it:

  • Was the most advanced iPhone to date, selling about 34,000 units per hour [16]
  • Had an improved camera, motion-tracking chip and fingerprint sensor
  • Has hardware and software that work together seamlessly
  • Not much of an upgrade in design from the iPhone 5 [15]

2015 – Apple iPhone 6 Vs. Samsung Galaxy S6

Apple iPhone 6 Vs. Samsung Galaxy S6

Apple iPhone 6 Vs. Samsung Galaxy S6


Although 2015 is only half over, it’s likely the iPhone 6 will be the best seller of the year, but only time will tell. The Samsung Galaxy S6 is a close contender. We’ll be updating this post once the year is out.

Sources

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_mobile_phones  

[2]http://www.phonearena.com/news/Nokia-1100-handset-being-tested-for-2016-phone-carries-quad-core-MediaTek-chip-Android-5.0_id66801

[3]http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_1110-1187.php

[4]http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-05/21/the-nokia-3210-was-the-greatest-phone-ever-made

[5]http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/05/the-evolution-of-cell-phone-design-between-1983-2009/

[6]http://www.techradar.com/us/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/nokia-s-3310-the-greatest-phone-of-all-time-1287636

[7]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_5110

[8]http://3tobeat.com/best-selling-mobile-phones-ever/

[9]http://www.cnet.com/products/apple-iphone-3g/

[10]http://www.cnet.com/search/?query=Apple+iPhone+3GS

[11]http://www.cnet.com/products/nokia-5230-nuron/

[12]http://www.cnet.com/products/apple-iphone-6/

[13]http://www.techradar.com/us/reviews/phones/mobile-phones/samsung-galaxy-s3-1078667/review

[14]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/picture-galleries/9818080/The-20-bestselling-mobile-phones-of-all-time.html?frame=2458961

[15]http://www.cnet.com/products/apple-iphone-5s/

[16]http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/27/technology/apple-iphone-earnings/?iid=EL

[17]http://www.cnet.com/topics/phones/best-phones/

[18]http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/03/technology/mobile/apple-iphone-top-smartphone/