What does your first phone say about you?
Motorola Razr? Oh, babe
Before our phones became fluid extensions of limb and brain, they were curious – almost foreign – objects. They were exciting. You would get a Vodaphone catalogue from the shopping centre and pore over the specifications – because phones did different things back then. Some of them had Bluetooth, and some of them had radios. Some of them had WAP – which you think was the internet and panicked when you opened it because you worried it was going to drain all your pay as you go credit.
Now we all have the same two phones – show me a friendship group that runs off a handset that isn’t the iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy – so our phones don’t say much at all about who we are. But in the olden days, they were important signals of our very identities.
This is what your first phone says about you.
You remember when your Dad took you to get your 3310. He spent just that little too long talking to Kevin, the customer service assistant, about which was the best pay as you go bundle. But once you had it in your hand, those 40 tense minutes spent in the Phones4U at Bluewater, wearing a rictus grin and carefully not snapping at Dad so he wouldn’t renege on his promise, were worth it.
You can still feel the weight of it in your hand; the velvety buttons that crunched as your fingers whipped across the keypad getting a high score on Snake. You liked feeling its sturdiness in your blazer pocket, and you liked getting new covers for it (that purple one with the yellow cartoon-y blooms, a Man United one, the silver one with that red graffiti writing). You worried about the simple things in life (GCSE coursework, whether you were going to make the 2nd XI, fingering) and very little about the larger architecture of your life. Because you were the same as every other teenager and for a few fleeting years, life really was that simple.
You were an early adopter – and by nature, you are a little too eager to please. You thought you wanted a phone but this was a displaced, misdirected focus for what you really wanted, which was more friends and a slightly better social life. As you sat in the “den” at someone’s house on Friday night, listening to the Kooks’ Inside In/Inside Out and sharing a single Bacardi Breezer between five, you imagined that there was probably a better party going on elsewhere. There was, there still is, and you’re still not getting invited to it.
Your parents just wanted you to “get home from school safely”.
Motorola Razr (pink)
You were basic before there was a word for it. You liked the OC, you liked those ra-ra skirts that Summer Roberts wore, you liked gel pens. You liked doing three clicks and shaking your head, you liked bitching about other girls. You spent lunchtimes sitting in the changing rooms, or in a French classroom (you were meant to be outside), giggling loudly.
You pretended you didn’t care about anything, though you cried when you failed a trigonometry test and when your mum wouldn’t let you bleach your hair like Paris and Nicole from the Simple Life. Your dad was a bit afraid of you, for about four years.
Girls: “I want the same phone that the pink girls have but I’m scared they’ll say I’m copying so I’ll get it in silver.”
One of them still said you were copying.
Boys: “I want the same phone that the pink girls have so the pink girls will talk to me, but obviously can’t get it in pink.”
Someone snapped it in half in the playground. The person who did it is texting one of the pink girls every evening.
The LG Chocolate was available in four colours, though unless you had the white one you were no one. For teenagers in the noughties, this – like drinking coffee – was an indicator of sophistication. LG was “aspirational”. It had a pixel camera, a semi-touch screen, just enough storage to listen to JT’s FutureSex/Lovesounds. But furthermore, it solidified your image as a sleek, understated, unknowable person. You had depth, and you earned respect with every noiseless slide. Good job, too, as the handset set your parents back £300 that Christmas.
Oh yeah, you were also rich.
You’re now a Geography teacher.
And suddenly, like that moment in Pleasantville, the world is rendered in glorious technicolour. You had one of the earliest colour phones ever to exist – and boy, did that make you feel like a big dog, a pioneer, one of life’s winners. You spent double periods Bluetooth-ing ringtones to your mates.
But in reality, of course, it was a slightly disappointing handset – just like life is a slightly disappointing proposition.
You modelled your hair on Beckham’s, you bought Richard Blackwood’s album and you still sort of miss Turkey Twizzlers. You cannot distinguish between tacky and kitsch, and incline naturally towards the former anyway.
You changed your covers constantly – Pepsi Max, Atomic Kitten, Real Madrid, Moschino and M&Ms. Female owners spritzed themselves with Versace Blue Jean, boys went for CK.
You went to private school.
You went to private school and watched Gossip Girl. Private school wasn’t like Gossip Girl. xoxo
Sony Ericsson Walkman
Your parents weaned you on Fleetwood Mac; you have all the Now CDs. You think of your life in terms of songs, and since your mid-teens, you have been the type of person who is “in charge of the playlist”, which you fill with floor-clearing whoppers. You go to festivals “for the music”.
The Walkman signalled that you were and always will be all about the music. You sat on the bus with the headphone cable snaking out of your coat pocket – now, you still listen to music at all opportunities. You still buy some “to support artists” and you have an old iPod in your room as an ornament. Your friends think you’re a twat.
You like Pusheen. You like cartoon T-shirts. You like street food. You like street style blogs. You like ping pong. You like big headphones. You like satchel bags and Converse. You like colour. You like listicles. You like GIFs. You like apps.
The first iPhone
You had an iPhone before they were cool. Because you weren’t cool. At that point, Apple was an eccentric proposition – perhaps you had an American dad. You definitely had a rich dad.